So what do you do on the second day of Spring, when you’ve already spent the first day out snowshoeing? That’s right: you go do it all again :-) This time we stayed a little closer to home and opted for the gentle slopes of Black Mountain. Not so black at this time of year of course.
We parked up in Cypress Bowl as usual, picked up our bright green trail passes and took off along the new Baden-Powell trail up to Black Mountain. We did this route on a zero-visibility day back in January with Wanderung. Today it was almost sunny. Well, the sun was almost making an appearance. This has a downside as it melts the snow off the trees, as Maria found out within a hundred yards of starting! Lovely way to start a hike… As before we followed the trail as it wound its way up alongside the ski runs, eventually turning away into the forest for some peace and quiet.
We reached the summit area within about 45 minutes or so (much quicker than yesterday’s trudge) and headed off to the North Summit to get a good view of the Lions and Howe Sound. And they were indeed great views. Then it was over to the South Summit for more views of well, all around really. Continuing on and down off the summit we decided to try heading out to Eagle Bluffs since we hadn’t been out that way for a couple of years and we’d been wanting to do it again for quite some time. At first we couldn’t work out where the trail went, as there was no sign of anyone taking the `official’ route. We explored a bit further and found that others had gone before us, and they had taken the short cut straight across one of the Cougar Lakes. In summer, these lakes are an absolute mud- and bog-fest. With free biting flies and mosquitoes just for fun! In winter, the lakes are serene open spaces, picture postcard scenes of fresh snow and trees. Looks even better on a sunny day too!
So we followed the footsteps, and were pleased to notice that the route did appear to follow the summer trail quite closely as we saw the occasional orange trail marker on a tree. Over another lake or two and through stands of small conifers, dripping with snow-encrusted icicles. Of course, the trail heads downhill towards the bluffs, ensuring we’d have a little climb back up after lunch (always fun – not). Soon we reached the bluffs and emerged from the shelter of the trees into a bitterly-cold wind. Well, we’d come for the views so we made damn sure we were going to enjoy those views! We eased our way down over the thin snow (the rocks were exposed in places as the wind blew away the snow), did our best to savour the views before hunkering down behind a big snow-drift next to a tree for some shelter. We shivered our way through lunch, at least between sips of hot tea. As with yesterday’s hike, getting moving again was dictated by the need to warm up, and so reluctantly we headed back into the trees, and plodded our way back up towards Black Mountain.
We rejoined the summit loop trail, continuing on round in an anti-clockwise manner (doing yet more uphill in the process!) and before long found ourselves at the junction to head back down the hill. Between leaving a handful of skiers on the North summit, and rejoining the trail down, we had had the entire place to ourselves. No one else around. Amazingly peaceful, and so close to a busy ski resort. One part of the descent near a ski run is a wide open slope which is just irresistible…
Not as sunny as we had expected, but a great little hike all the same. Definitely one to re-repeat.
Distance: about 10 km
Elevation gain: 350 m
Photos on Flickr