Our first real snowshoe of the year. Yup. It’s February and we haven’t been out yet this year. Quite shocking :-) Andrew convinced us and Merewyn that the weather forecast promised us a nice day and that the Coquihalla was the place to go. We opted to stick to something we knew, and headed for the Needle Peak area.
We parked up just after 10 am and were ready to leave by a little after 10.30 am. We crossed under the highway and picked up the trail to Needle Peak. The snow was firm and for the most part grip was not a problem. We plodded our way through the crusty snow, steadily uphill following ski tracks and the orange trail markers. It was probably not the best trail for Maria to start the year on, as it quickly got quite steep, but we took it easy. Our progress wasn’t rapid; no one was in a hurry. It was just a pleasure to be out in the snow again.
After about an hour we cleared the trees and got our first views back over the road towards the magnificent Yak Peak. A thin cap of cloud drifted over the summit and down gullies on the south flank. Blue sky behind it enhanced its beauty. Unfortunately, that was the only blue sky to be had. Thick cloud was drifting in from the west and was beginning to cover up Needle Peak. However, we hadn’t really set our sights on getting to the peak, but had wondered about getting up onto the Flatiron area like we did last July.
We continued our way up and emerged onto the north ridge. The snow at this elevation was much nicer and we were all glad we’d made the effort to get here. We followed the ridge up and down, gradually gaining more elevation and soaking up the views of the steep northern slopes of Needle Peak. All together a quite leisurely affair.
Three hours after setting out we found ourselves a nice lunch spot on a local peak on the ridge looking straight over at Needle Peak, with a few trees at our back to cut out the cold wind. The hot chocolate was definitely welcome! We finished lunch, looked at the time and the distance we still had to go to see anything significantly different from what we could see now and decided that this would be a good enough turn around point. The clouds were now well entrenched and had covered Yak Peak as well.
Now for the fun part. We slid and glissaded at every opportunity on our descent and generally enjoyed being out in the snow. All too soon we were back in the trees and retraced our steps back to the car (relying on Merewyn’s GPS track from the morning to guide us at a couple of points. It took us less than two hours to descend.
We stopped in Hope for afternoon coffee at the Blue Moose and Maria and I were somehow convinced to pose outside the tourist information centre, poking our faces through a gap in some local artwork… An easy drive home and another fine day out in the mountains was over.
Distance: about 7 km
Elevation gain: about 500 m
Photos on Flickr