With cooler temperatures and light drizzle in the forecast four of us gathered at the “old Forbidden Plateau Ski hill” trailhead under overcast skies. After a few minutes spent catching up and discussing the day’s plan we headed downhill, replete with the expected commentary about starting a hike downhill, to pick up the trail to Boston Creek.
Lucky or what? My fifth time snowshoeing in the last 2 months and each time the trees have been adorned with snow! Some years, you might never get that, as the snow melts off or is pelted off with untimely rains.
This time, we had snow on the trees right from the parking lot, and although the skies were clear when we set out at 9:45, cloud moved in, limiting our view from the summit.
The plan was to summit Mount Allan Brooks, but the weather had other ideas. On our start up the road to Raven Lodge, the snow on the road was so slippery that a long line of cars had formed not far from the lower chain up area—forget that noise! We detoured to Mount Becher, perhaps a bit far from our original destination, but the road was plowed and the snow just as fresh.
It was late January. I’d been signed up for a winter snowshoe ascent of Mt Becher with the Island Mountain Ramblers for a while, but the weather had not been easy to predict of late. In the end, it had to be postponed for a week, but with a forecast of light snow and afternoon clearing, the trip was a go for Groundhog Day. Well, I’m no meteorologist, but that sounded good to me. I’ve only seen that movie about twelve times by now!
As our trip leader John was later heard to say “In Saskatoon, you know, we never really worried about the groundhog seeing his shadow. Six more weeks of winter didn’t sound too bad at all!” But I digress, despite the torrential rains of the previous Friday, it was time for us to gear up and head for the hills!
There were seven of us altogether: Fearless leader John, Mo, Karen, Sylvie, Goody, and I left Nanaimo at 730 am. We met Kristy on the mountain a little later on. As we drove up Highway 19, the sun and skies put on a bit of show, once we got north of Qualicum. I remember musing that it might just be the best light of the day, and that there had to be a storm behind it. Sure enough, when we reached the turnoff to Piercy Road, it had begun to snow lightly, and by the time we’d parked near the site of the old Forbidden Lodge, it was snowing harder and the wind had picked up considerably.
Three of the five people on this hike had never participated in a club trip before. Kerry drove from Nanaimo, Dave (Mitch) and I from Qualicum Beach, Sarah drove from Tahsis via Campbell River to pick up Elliott.
We started trudging up the unpleasant remnants of the ski resort around 10:30 and after a few brief pauses arrived at the top at 12:30 where we had lunch.
It grew more overcast during the ascent and clouds obscured the views at the top. We were surprised by the number of folks on the trip, particularly those families with small children. Many dogs also.
Descending the resort caused a few butts to unexpectedly kiss the earth. Would I do the hike again? No, except possibly in winter on snowshoes– should we have a good snow year.
Five members met up at the Wood Mountain parking lot for a snowshoe to Mt Becher in the sunshine.
We departed at 9:45 am mostly following the summer route. There was only one other person on the trail whom we played leapfrog with up to the summit. We arrived at the summit around 12:30 pm where we experienced the rarity of no wind and clear views of the surrounding mountains all to ourselves.
After a short lunch break, we headed back along the same route, where we encountered several groups of people on snowshoes and backcountry skiers as well as their dogs. We arrived back to the vehicles at 3:00 pm.
We started at Wood Mountain parking lot. We traveled past the ruins of the old ski hill to the border of Strathcona park. From there we followed the trail and took the route signed as Drabble and lamountainie, skirting under the cliffs of Mount Becher.
The outing started out as a rather soggy affair, but before long the rain ceased and the sun came out, albeit only for a short time. So, we had no views, but the fall colours were wonderful and a good time was had by all. The trail up to Boston Ridge is wellmarked, for the most part, although finding the trail down to Boston Creek from the road at the trailhead took a little doing.
Adventure is ephemeral. For many, a real sense of adventure comes in a novel experience, such as discovering a new place or a new activity. For me, adventure comes in taking chances.
On Sunday March 5th, the adventure was in risking poor weather on a hike up Mount Becher, and navigating in questionable conditions. Mount Becher is a common location for those seeking easy access to a backcountry experience. Depending on the season and conditions, it offers hiking, snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, ice climbing, ridge walking, and more. On occasion, I’ve even found snowmobilers using the old ski runs!
The trailhead is the old Forbidden Plateau ski resort, also referred to as Wood Mountain. From Highway 19, follow Piercy Road to Forbidden Plateau Road (less than five minutes down the road). Forbidden Plateau Road is usually in good condition, often accessible by city car, because it’s plowed in the winter. This explains why, on a sunny day, I frequently find 15 or more vehicles parked in the lot.
Total Distance: 11.4 km
Starting Elevation: 690 m
Maximum Elevation: 1391 m
Total Elevation Gain: 770 m
Total time: 6 h 30 m
Upon arriving at the parking lot, we discovered that the recent snow that dumped 50cm on nearby Mount Washington had delivered only rain to the Forbidden Plateau area. It was almost bare; looking up the hill, I could see a lot of exposed rock and gravel leading up to the old shed. I wasn’t surprised, as winter is coming to a close. I abandoned the hope of testing my sled on some steeper terrain, and strapped the snowshoes onto my backpack.