Black Mountain snowshoe, 6 Jan 2008

At last – snow in 2008! Well, 6 days in is hardly a long time to wait but we had been planning to bring in the New Year in the snow (except that didn’t happen). The forecast was miserable bordering on terrible but at least it would be snowing on the mountains. A group of eight of us hooked up through Wanderung and headed for Black Mountain in Cypress Bowl. After a short time waiting around aimlessly we all convened on the trail head, picked up our bright green trail passes and headed off on a new adventure.

Wait, a new adventure? Well, sort of. The winter route up Black Mountain has changed due to the Olympic construction, and the first I knew of it was when one of the others asked me if I had been up there since they had established the new route. Umm, no. But no matter as it was marked with poles, and signposts telling us which way to head. So instead of turning left behind the rental shed, we carried on as if heading for Yew Lake, past the base of the Eagle chair-lift before beginning our uphill climb. Visibility was non-existent and it was hard to see where the next pole was at times, but steady progress was made. As ever, with fresh snowfall the place was a magical winter wonderland, with snow-laden trees and rounded snow pillows all around.

Black Mountain snowshoe, 6 Jan 2008

The new route was steeper and it felt a bit of a slog at times, as we paused every now and then to catch our collective breath. Up, and up some more but within the space of an hour we reached the Black Mountain loop sign. Hmm which way: left or right? We went right, coming to Cabin Lake almost immediately and then back through the trees up to the south summit of Black Mountain. Up here the wind blew the snow hard into our faces, which were now stinging. We stopped long enough for a snack and a group photo before continuing on around the loop.

Before long we realized our mistake as we had opted for the shorter leg of the loop, even having to climb some more to get back to where we started! But who could really complain at the scenery and the beautiful deep, soft snow. Just as our lungs were giving out, we reached the beginning of the loop and headed back down the mountain. Now for some fun! Cutting switchbacks in the summer is a real no-no as the risk of damage to the trail is very high. But in the snow, it doesn’t matter so we took great sliding strides down the slopes, occasionally tripping over and going face first into the snow. We found a couple of good slopes to slide on and wiled away some time yoyo-ing up and down. Especially as Tania had brought her magic carpet. Yeah! Woohoo! That made for some serious fun :-)

Black Mountain snowshoe, 6 Jan 2008

Well, once we had tracked out that slope (and had enough of getting snow up our backs!) we continued on down, back to the cars and down to West Van for a hot lunch at the Bakehouse.

Still a nice trail, but not as gentle as it used to be and of course it now misses out all those nice little lakes. Next time I’ll be tempted to retrace the old route for a while, especially now that no one else will be taking it. Oh, and I’ll be sure to turn left at the start of the loop!

Distance: about 6 km? (used to be about 7 km)
Elevation gain: 300 m
Photos on Flickr

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