Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Forbidden Plateau Traverse

*Notice the wrapped wrist ... tried to keep the tendonitis at bay...didn't work so well:(

Sunday evening I realized that Brad and I had no plans for Monday. No work. No committments. No road trips. No races. No fishing plans:). No responsibilities. Nothing.

So I attacked this rare opportunity and planned a nice hike for Monday...a jaunt in the park of sorts...the jaunt being 23kms and the park being Strathcona Provincial Park:)))))

Brad wouldn't let me go alone so he agreed to join me on my mission to scope out the traverse from Mt. Washington (Paradise Meadows) to Mt. Becher (Forbidden Plateau). Yuki came along and that made it a real old fashioned family outing. But 6 fantastic hours later we were all dog tired!

View from the face of Forbidden Plateau...6hours and ready to get to the river!

Here are the details:
Forbidden Plateau Traverse: 23kms 6hours hiking at a fast pace with zero breaks.
The route can be completed from either direction with pro's and con's for each:
Washington to Forbidden: Overall elevation loss is greater (ie more downhill than up), the view of the Valley at the finish (as well as a downhill leg) is outstanding, and Nymph Falls awaits your aching legs for a cool soak in the river.
Forbidden to Washington: Pub and beer at the end. That is the only benefit as you will do more climbing if you go this way.
Logistics: Challenging- as you need 2 place a vehicle at either end and drive up and down a couple of times.
Water: Bring lots. We each went through 2 litres (ie ran out) although there are some great water sources along the way right now these might dry up as the summer progresses.
Hazards: This is back country travel. There are no roads, no phones, no nice people to call if you need help (no cell coverage) and no other way out once you commit to the traverse. You are in serious timber and remote alpine terrain. Although the terrain is not technical there are always rocks and roots that invite a rolled ankle and small situations turn into big emergencies in remote areas. Our marine radio picked up the Coast Gaurd- I highly recommend you bring one along if you are going into the back country.

A dip in an alpine lake. One of many swims for Yuki.

The route:
Starts flat and is very easy travel in Paradise meadows. Boardwalk and smooth packed trail are literally a walk in the park. Once you bail off the main route to Kwai Lake and other popular destinations then the trail becomes a little more rugged with rocks and creeks and other obstacles. After Murray Meadows...you leave the maintained trails and enter the traverse trail. Instantly you will see the difference! More like a game track then a park trail, the narrow single track winds through mud and mucky swampy meadows, crosses creeks and rivers, enters thick first growth forest (along Panther Lake) and then opens up to follow some amazing alpine terrain.

Yuki making a river crossing (his favorite thing)

Brad making a river crossing...not his (or my) favorite thing!

Views are few and far between as you are either in the forest or surrounded by hillsides during most of the route. Just past Panther Lake you will get a great vantage point of the Beaufort range, including Albert Edward and the Comox Glacier. After this point you will notice a subtle loss in elevation...then more...then more...then you will realize you are going to have to climb back up at some point! This is where the suprise began for us- although we knew there was a gain in elevation at the end of the route, we did not expect as much climbing as there was. (Shoulda counted those contour lines:). Although it is not a huge climb, you do gain significant elevation over a short time. And as you will have been travelling so quickly on the flats for so long, this change in terrain will slow you down. Just when you think you must be getting close...you aren't! And there is another climb for ya. Luckily this part of the route is in the shade of an amazing 1st growth forest (no stumps here!) and you will be distracted from the heavy breathing by these great giants.

Run it? Yes, you can definately run most of the trail to Panther lake and then down to Mackenzie Lake. But after that you are trekking big time. Next time I would jog the 'park' trails to make up some time on the flats with fresh legs.

Bike it? No freakin way. That is a long way to drag your bike for a downhill cruise on Forbidden. But leave your bike in the bush for a post-hike 2 Sheiks downhill ride...now that is a plan!

Here are the maps:

As always, go with a buddy, go prepared and be smart & safe. Expect the unexpected!

1 comment:

Yan, Kim & Nicholas Sénéchal said...

Hey! Great to hear you did it. I just noticed today that the brace I left you is still in our shed...at the very back. I think Yan cut the grass after I left it there and before he left to fly out to meet us and probably never noticed it as he jammed things back into the shed (ie. 2 kiddie pools). Did you go looking for it? How is the rest? Sorry about that!