2012-04-03 49 -123
Not far from Hollyburn Lodge, just outside of the snowshoe trail boundary at Cypress Nordic area.
- Rhonda will go after work. Probably last chance to use the snowshoes this season!
- Robyn will meet Rhonda at the SeaBus terminal, with her skis.
Leave work. Get car, jacket, and snowshoes from home. Drive to Cypress. Walk to hashpoint.
Alternately ski to Hollyburn Lodge, walk to hashpoint.
Robyn put on her ski boots, picked up her skis and rode the bus that goes by the end of her street until the SkyTrain station, then took the Skytrain downtown to the SeaBus. There were happy-seeming people on the Skytrain when she got on with her skis, so she talked to them. They turned out to be laughing at her because of her skis. They were not from Vancouver, so didn't realize the fanatical enthusiasm with which Vancouverites combine their recreational pursuits and public transit. Seeing public transit packed with skiers and snowboarders on their way to the mountain is not unusual. Seeing people on public transit with inflatable boats is not unheard of. The tourists were on their way to the hockey game downtown.
Robyn reached the SeaBus in plenty of time to upgrade her transit ticket for the trip across, but Rhonda wasn't there three minutes before the sailing, so Robyn kept looking up the ramp to see if she was there yet. She arrived with two minutes to spare before the sailing, which was plenty of time. She still had to wait to get on because it was rush hour and crowded.
I checked the location in the morning before work, then emailed Robyn and posted the page with my basic plans. Through the work day I snuck some emailed planning in with Robyn, found out from Wijnland that Cypress stopped selling tickets at 5:30 because the cross country and snowshoe area closes at 7:00, revised some of the plans, then stealthily crept out of the office at 4 in my bright orange cycling shirt. Rather than cycling home, however, I sped toward Waterfront Station, the seabus, and Robyn, where we had planned to meet to catch the 4:15 seabus. As I jogged toward the waiting area, I saw Robyn and her skis looking up the ramp toward me.
On the other side of the Burrard Inlet, Robyn walked up the hill to Rhonda's place while Rhonda biked, in order to shorten the turnaround time to the mountain. We loaded Robyn's skis and Rhonda's snowshoes into the car, and started driving up the switchbacks, leaving the rain and heading up into the snow. While buying tickets for access to the trails leading to the hashpoint, Rhonda realized she'd forgotten gloves, toque, and GPS. Fortunately it wasn't all that cold and Robyn had her GPS.
The trails are open until seven, but trail pass sales end at five-thirty. Rhonda and Robyn had to take separate routes, because skiers aren't allowed on the snowshoe trails and vice versa.
Robyn put on her skis and skied up the trail to Hollyburn. There was a lot of new snow, making it more like walking up a hill with skis on than really skiing, but it was fun and there was almost no one around. Rhonda's parallel snowshoe trail wasn't visible through the trees, but Hollyburn Lodge, a wooden ski lodge that has been on this mountain for eighty-six years (that's a really long time in western Canada) soon was, and after Robyn had skied once around the outside of the lodge Rhonda appeared out of the snowshoe trail.
Rhonda put on her snowshoes and hiked off into the trees, following the green-painted bamboo that marked the trail to Hollyburn. All the new snow meant that the trail wasn't completely compacted by previous snowshoers. She wandered off the trail a few times just because you can do that with snowshoes. It was hovering right around freezing, and as predicted on the way up, Rhonda got really hot in her warm alpine ski outfit. About halfway through the hike to Hollyburn Lodge, she took off the jacket and carried it, finishing that segment of the hike in a short-sleeved cycling shirt. After a while she heard Robyn's voice calling her. Hollyburn Lodge!
It was now 150 metres to the geohash, straight into an area of trees and snow that didn't forbid entry by skiers or snowshoers. It was not a groomed trail, but it was not too steep and not too dense with trees for easy passage by both a snowshoer and a skier. Sometimes Robyn had to go sideways to go up or down a slope, but it was almost as if a trail had been prepared for us right to the geohash. Along the way, Robyn wondered if it would be easier to hike through the woods without really long sticks attached to her feet, but since Rhonda was sinking about 5cm into the snow with every step even in fairly large snowshoes, we decided that the skis were probably more of a help than a hindrance, even in the trees.
The hashpoint itself was under a tree. Of course, everything in the area was under one tree or another.
Robyn took off her skis to do the GPS dance under the hash tree, and promptly sank ankle-deep in the snow in an area where Rhonda's snowshoes weren't sinking at all.
We took pictures, talked about how anti-climactically easy the hash had been, noticed a house not far away, and then just about when we were going to head back the way we came, we noticed a person walking toward us from the house. Had we accidentally walked into somebody's private property by accident? Robyn called out to the new person, "are you a geohasher?" because that's what she asks everybody she sees near a geohash.
"This is hard without snowshoes," was the reply.
Wijnland left work a little early to drive up to cypress and arrived just after 5.30 but could still get a ticket and onto the trails. On arrival I saw Rhonda's car and therefore moved as fast as possible to try and meet R&R at the hashpoint. I took again a different route, as without any snowshoes/skis I was not allowed on their trails. Luckily there was also an alternative hiking route to the hollyburn lodge. The route took me up to 150m from my destination, and a smaller path leading to a group of huts 'higs hideout' if I remember well 30m from the destination. The last meters I could already hear R&R and I had to plough knee deep trough the snow. Success!
 All together
All three of us gathered under the hashtree and took more pictures, left a marker in the snow, talked a bit, then it started snowing. We decided to head back along the trail Robyn and Rhonda had used back to Hollyburn Lodge. Robyn led the way, back on her skis, and Wijnland followed last. After falling down several times and getting stuck in snow past his knees or higher where Robyn and Rhonda floated above the snow on their skis and snowshoes, Wijnland announced that he would be taking his original hiking route in to get back out. We agreed to meet again in the parking lot, and Wijnland turned back to the trail he'd used. At Hollyburn Lodge, Robyn and Rhonda split up again to go on their respective trails, and we all went separately back to the entrance of the park much the way we'd made our way to the hashpoint.
Rhonda was the last to arrive at the parking lot, because she stopped to take more pictures of the scenery, and to read the signs on the trail. Did you know that ravens will call wolves to a kill they find, so that the wolves will do the hard work of opening up the animal so they can eat more easily?
| Rhonda, Robyn and Wijnland earned the Admit One Achievement
| Rhonda, Robyn and Wijnland earned the Land geohash achievement