A couple of days after Christmas and we’re clamouring to get out and do some exercise. We polled Andrew and Merewyn and I suggested Brothers Creek to go look at some waterfalls, thinking of the nice cascades we’d seen on previous hikes there. Surely the rain over the holiday weekend would have topped up the creeks to make for nice waterfalls…
We wound our way up the hill through the mansions of West Vancouver to the trailhead on Chartwell Drive. We passed a house with an enormous light display in its garden and decided we should stop on the way back if it was dark enough to see the lights in all their glory. We pulled on our boots and headed up the old road. We soon reached the turnoff up the hill, but continued on for a few yards to see a couple of alleged points of interest. The first was a modest view of an old dam on one of the creeks (not that impressive); the second was the creek itself and some small cascades. Pretty enough but not really exciting.
Back on track, we turned uphill and passed through a gate with forbidding warning signs that we should only venture at our own risk blah, blah, blah. We plodded steadily uphill in light rain, stopping briefly to photograph an old truck. It was dull and misty, but the surrounding greenery looked bright in the low light. We turned the corner and reached an intersection, a helpful tree festooned with old signs pointing out destinations in all directions. We ducked under the trees heading for Brothers Creek and noticed that the rain looked a little different, a little whiter. Yup: it was now snowing :-)
We passed under the powerlines, the snow a light dusting in the open air, and back into the trees to pick up the Baden-Powell trail for a few metres before peeling off left to follow Brothers Creek on river right. We climbed up through the heavy tree cover and the snow turned from patchy to frequent to constant. Fortunately the trail was easy to follow, and by the time we reached the bridge where the Crossover Trail joined, the new snow was up to 20 cm deep.
Higher up we began encountering the large cedars: my favourite part of the trail :-) The snow was now continuous and the trees were nicely coated in a fresh layer of white. There’s a small grove of trees I always take a photo of and was pleased to note that the snow made the big trees stand out much more clearly than usual. The mist added a bit of atmosphere.
A short distance further up the hill we came to the little double waterfall. I was really hoping that the recent rain had swelled this into the kind of torrent I’d seen with Andrew a couple of years earlier. Unfortunately it wasn’t and it looked like a dirty brown little waterfall next to the pristine snow. Andrew and I edge down the slope a little to get a better view, easier said than done with thigh-deep soft snow. I gave up on the idea of making my way down to the creek, and we rejoined Maria and Merewyn to continue our wander.
A few minutes further and we crossed Brothers Creek, stopping to get a few photos. The view upstream was particularly nice, the rocks in the creek wearing white caps, the trees draped with a few cm of snow. Here the snow was perhaps 30 cm deep, but much of that was fairly firm compacted snow from previous snowfall. I say fairly firm because occasionally one of us would break through the crust, risking a turned ankle. Still, our progress was quite rapid as we began our descent.
More big cedars on this stretch and again I was delighted by the fact that they were so easy to see. A km or so down the road, the snow ended, we left the old-growth forest behind and suddenly we felt like we had plunged into darkness. The snow had really brightened up the forest higher up, and now we just stepped out to cover the ground as quickly as possible. We passed the lone picnic table at the intersection with the Crossover Trail, which must be one of the worst locations ever to have a picnic, even in summer.
Down and more downhill and we rejoined the B-P trail, turning right to head back towards Brothers Creek. This was a mistake: the light was fading rapidly, and suddenly we were heading uphill again! A long kilometre later and we reached the creek. I had wanted to bring us back this way to get a view of the second set of cascades on the creek. And they were in good flow (much better than when we saw them in August 2007) but really I should have made us go look at them before heading up the creek earlier in the day, rather than adding a thankless uphill slog towards the end of the hike. Then we could have got away with a boring 1 km walk back to the car along the road: after our uphill diversion we were still over a mile from the car!
We retraced our steps and reached the car in deep gloaming, headlamps not quite necessary yet… However, now that it was dark, it did mean we got to see the Christmas light display in all its glory!
Still one of my favourite non-summit hikes.
Distance: 8 km
Elevation gain: 350 m
Photos on Flickr