Canada Expedition: Days 2, 3 and 4 – Over a Volcano

Day two of our expedition was tough.
The conditions really weren’t great right from the morning on – fog, wind and quite heavy snowfall made moving forward (and my job of navigating through unmarked terrain) rather tedious, and it didn’t help that our original route was impassable, leading us to trek cross-country relying entirely on our map. This did end up taking us up the very steep side of a mountain, though the view through the thick snowfall of a partly frozen-over lake to which we had lunch right afterwards sort of repaid our efforts. Upon investigating Google Maps, I have found that the lake we saw is likely called mimulus lake.

From then we largely descended into a broadening valley, though the increasingly terrible weather conditions made it difficult to see where we were heading or where the valley ended. This, combined with its absence from my map, made for quite a surprise when we suddenly reached an impasse: a river blocked our way. Though it sure looked cool, it wasn’t very beneficial to us getting closer to our next campsite – and we were already running behind schedule. Thankfully, we found a small makeshift bridge a good bit upstream from where we were.

After crossing the river, the almost moonlike environment we were moving through only got stranger: on the hill ahead of us, there were patches without snow, and the snow and rain that fell onto it evaporated, leaving small puffs of fog behind. A pretty cool way to see that the area you are hiking through is, in fact, volcanic, and that the hill ahead of you is the aptly named cinder cone – which is, well, a cinder cone volcano.
Sadly, due to the low-hanging clouds, we were neither able to see the cinder cone, nor the probably much more impressive Black Tusk Mountain to our left.

Eventually, after a long and arduous march through the snow, we reached our campsite for the night. Again, we spent the night camping on top of several meters of snow.

The next day was a day which we had been anticipating ever since putting on our snowshoes: the day we would descend far enough into the valley to be able to take them off again.
Initially, though, it was a steep descent over snow-covered slopes, and the snow made it difficult to find the hiking trail we were trying to follow. Being responsible for navigation, I went out scouting – when suddenly, beneath me the snow started sliding and I rolled a good five meters into a ditch before a very kind tree stopped my involuntary detour. Thankfully, I only got a couple blue spots and a cut or two.

Eventually, after descending through a steeper and steeper valley and truly beautiful forest (now without snowshoes), we had made it back into temperate climate. At the (geographically) lowest point of the day, we crossed the wild Cheakamus River – a moment during which I think we all felt like true adventurers.

We set up camp for the night next to the stunningly picturesque Cheakamus Lake.

The next day we headed down to our final campsite, just outside of Whistler – a roughly 20km journey, which we covered by mountain bike. It was my first time going down the side of a mountain on a mountain bike, and I thoroughly enjoyed it (despite being covered in mud afterwards), however the rest of the journey was less enjoyable as some bike paths which we thought existed did not in fact exist and the pouring rain and general tiredness did not help our overall situation. Eventually we did get to our campsite and set up our tents in the pouring rain, ready to get a good night’s sleep – at this point, we would sleep through anything.

 

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