This weekend started with a celebration of the upcoming wedding of my friend Joël. The bachelor party ran through Saturday and then we camped at Cultus Lake. I took the opportunity to go skinny dipping at a provincial park at 3 am. Then I slept under the stars. It was too beautiful a night to use a tent.
The next morning it took me a bit to shake out the cobwebs. I think some creatures had entered my head while I slept and began performing high intensity radioactivity research because my skull ached as the sun rose. Water helped.
I set off on my own at 11 am in search of my next adventure. I took the motorbike north on hwy 1 and my eyes danced along the mountain ridgeline. I pulled off the road near Bridal Veil Falls. I explored the few residential streets not quite knowing what I was looking for. I found a sign indicating the start of bridal veil falls forest service road and another sign beneath it that lit me up with a grin. “Warning: no phone service, no vehicle service, unmaintained road.” I was home.
I steered the bike up the dirt road for about half a kilometer and then found a good place to pull it off to the side. Not knowing how activly the road was used by others I didn’t want to leave any of my camping gear or motorcycle gear at the bike without it being difficult to walk off with. I had a small lock to secure my helmet and left the small bag with most of my food behind but everything else got loaded into/onto my back pack. Sleeping bag, mat, woollies, bike tools, leather pants, leather jacket, a few snacks and some water. I had a gps with me to keep track of my path in case I decided to veer off the beaten track.
Not more than 500 m from where I had parked the bike I found a trail leading off the road. It was unmarked but well trodden and well maintained. It would periodically come to a place with a beautiful water fall but from that point onwards the trail would lose about 50% of its “well trodden” and “well maintained” attributes. Here is a short video at one of the first such places and a photo at one of the later ones.
Eventually the trail was almost non-existent and of course my gps totally crapped out. Someone had recently hiked this same way and by slowing down considerably I was able to find their tracks: scraped moss on a rock, broken branches, displaced earth, etc. I was reassured I was on their track every once in a while when I would discover a bit of pink ribbon they had tied. The problem was they had tied it to mark the route they needed to descend which meant that the ribbon was rarely visible for my assent (ie. tied to a branch on the uphill side of a tree). It was very slow route finding with lots of time spent looking back to build a mental picture for the return trip.
At last I reached a bit of a shelf in the slope. A look at the time showed I was mere minutes from my self-imposed turn-around-time of 3 pm. I dropped my bag to mark the spot on the shelf where I should begin my descent and then trotted along it to see if the trail got better or worse. It got structurally better but less comfortable. I was savagely attacked by a horde of stinging nettles. My legs became an ugly mess of red welts and streaks that then seemed to attract small flies who would add to the punishment by biting in the same spots. (I swear they must have had disproportionately large teeth too.) Next time I will wear gaiters. I shouldered my backpack, shut out the pain, and began the trip down.
I don’t take well to being teased by mountains in this way. I am eager to return without 25 lbs of useless gear and with proper navigational tools.