2009-04-25 50 -118

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Sat 25 Apr 2009 in Mabel Lake, British Columbia:
50.4809778, -118.3527699

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Near the trailhead of Monashee Provincial Park.




The route I will need to drive is the same used to get to the primary trailhead of Monashee Provincial Park (a park with no road access). The elevation stays under 900m (should be under the current snow line) and should be well-maintained.

The road happens to end exactly at the base of mountain I will need to climb, a trek of two and half kilometers and a rise of 800m with no trail.


The Drive[edit]

Highway 6 was a pleasure to drive as always. Sugar Lake Road was clear like I expected. I didn't see any vehicles in either direction until I got to the hydroelectric dam. There were military officers there, which was alarming, but they didn't indicate I should stop, so I continued through.

When I reached the turnoff for Monashee Provincial Park, my heart sank. It was covered in deep snow--not what I expected. I was surprised that one road was so well maintained, while the one for the park was not.

I had left earlier than usual, but it would not help when I was this far back. I decided to make the best of it.

Hike to the Bridge[edit]

From my planning, I knew the bridge wasn't far, but I didn't have a GPS waypoint for it. The snow was pretty similar to the deeper snow I spent three recent expeditions hiking in. I even have a special stride now that helps against sinking. This was also the first time I had waterproofing treatment on my leather boots. Ahead I brazenly went.

The mere kilometer to get there had me tired already. The concrete bridge was completely dry and provided a nice place to sit and relax. At the time I smugly thought that it was a barrier to snowmobiles, giving extra merit to my hiking (I was later told this isn't true). There were vague snowmobile tracks on the other side, obviously very old.

I checked my maps and realized Rainbow Falls was doable, and I had sufficient daylight left. I started to think of excuses why I shouldn't, then kicked my own ass and headed into the snow.

Hike to the Falls[edit]

Evidence of a rich variety of wildlife was everywhere. There were giant moose tracks going a meter down in the snow, the ever-present deer, droppings from carnivorous birds, trees fallen by beavers, and lots more. The only one that didn't delight me was a set of large feline tracks. I'm not sure which of the three local predators they belonged to, but they were big enough to be taken as a threat.

I reached Rainbow Falls with already wet boots. The wax helped, beading the water in some spots but not others (needs another treatment). The snow was unrelenting and wet, so leaving the road into the forest was actually a relief. There were no signs at this point, but one simply had to follow the roar of the falls before hitting a path of sorts.

There were two viewing platforms, one of which was damaged by fallen trees that no one had yet touched. The mist coming off the falls made it difficult to photograph, so I would wait for the breeze to shift then run up and get a shot or two--no time for careful adjustments.

Getting there this time of year was something special. The mounds of snow and soft ground around the platforms were undisturbed. This was also the closest point on my trek to the coordinates: kilometers away, yet totally worth it.


A 10.03km round-trip hike primarily on unused snow-covered roads, reaching within 6.61km of the coordinates. No significant change in altitude.

2009-04-25 ge tracklog.jpg

Lessons Learned[edit]

  • Even popular areas have periods of relative inaccessibility.
  • As with forest service roads, park access roads are not always maintained year-round.
  • My boots need more wax.


  • Pushed myself a little harder.