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Our adventure began a few weeks back when we were originally scheduled to do this hike. Unfortunately back then the weather turned foul after a summer of draught conditions. So we canceled the trip and waited a few weeks for a better day. Well it arrived and off we went. Unfortunately with the delay Brett wasn’t able to join us on this adventure. Ralph arrived at my home just before 7am and we quickly loaded up the truck and started out for mountains.
As per the normal sequence of those drug addicted members of society our first stop was to the local drug dispensary for a fresh cup of the hot beverage that keeps society moving along in a generally functional state. Once loaded up we continued along to the next stop to feed the truck before getting onto the highway for a fast trip to Hope and then the Summit of the Coquihalla. It went smoothly except for a short slow patch near the end of our drive for road construction. The only excitement along the trip to this point was when Ralph was reviewing the computer to find our exit point off the highway – he tried to zoom in on the location but managed to terminate the mapping software while we were barreling down the road at 120km and rapidly approaching our exit. We now had to find the exit the hard way – with our memory and eyes. Fortunately we found the side road in time to exit and once off the highway we got the software restarted so we could follow the right backroads to the trail head.
We drove in to the Falls Lake parking area and there we spotted a narrow rough road heading north. It looked a bit over-grown but we stopped and engaged our 4x4 system and then set off onto the gravel road. It quickly began a steep climb up the slope which was good but it was also extremely rough with a stream having ripped out large chucks of the road bed. We managed to pick our way across and soon were past the worst and driving higher up on the slope looking for a fork. We found it and started up that road which was almost as rough but also very steep so progress was slow until we reached the top where the gas line right-of-way was. Here we parked and looked 30 meters down the clearing to see the trail-head.
Once parked we quickly got our gear organized and then set off for the trail. Though the road was very rough we still preferred it to having to walk the 300m elevation gain section of the slope to the start of the trail proper. The initial section of the trail is fairly steep as it winds its way through an alpine forest. Fortunately the trees offered shade and kept us cool in the growing heat. The trail was well trodden and ease to follow, it was also well marked with new reflectors placed on trees. Soon we were up to the ridge line and the climb got much more gradual. The fall colours were starting up here with the blueberry leaves coloured bright red. The ash was yellow and with the deep green of the spruce, and a small hint of white wild flowers the slopes quite spectacular to view.
We continued our way along the trail as it followed the ridge to the summit of Zoa. At one point we met two hikers come back from the summit. The one chap almost walked into me, he was so involved in his conversation with his buddy that he really wasn’t watching the trail! We stopped and chatted for a while he does rock climbing and several other more challenging adventures in the hills. This hike was an easy check out hike for him. After a rest we continued along the trail and eventually reached a view of the peak and the what appear to be steep trail to the summit. Though it looked quite challenging from the distance the final climb wasn’t too bad and we were soon following the trail as it led past the actual summit for a better viewpoint on the shoulder. We left the trail and made for the actual summit. It was in a lovely settling with trees scattered around it giving us a shaded spot to set up and operate from for our Summits on the Air activation of the summit. First we unloaded and ate lunch to regain our strength after the hike. I got my 2m antenna assembled and put out a call to the Sumas Mountain repeater. I was able to reach it in a spotty fashion with contacts fading in and out. I tried a number of locations to see which would reach it more reliably eventually settling on a spot a few meters to the SE of the summit. I heard Carolyn (VA7CDA) make a call to me but I wasn’t able to respond for her to hear me. A bit later Bill (VE7WNO) called and him I was able to talk with. Over the next hour I managed two more simplex conversations including with a hiker doing a SOTA activation on a peak in the U.S.
Meanwhile Ralph had strung up his 20m wire vertical antenna and was making contacts throughout the region. He found it hard to break in initially but once he got the first contact they piled up quickly. In the end we had 13 contacts logged. The summit was now officially activated for the first time. Eventually we had had enough sitting around playing radio and felt it was time to pack up and head home. The breeze had picked up a bit and with the heat of the early afternoon the day was proving to be ideal hiking weather. Before heading back we continued a bit further along the trail to view the western views of the next summits in our group – Guanaco and Vicuna. They are impressive to view but look a bit challenging to climb.
The return hike went smoothly with us making very good time even with numerous stops to gather up some photos and just enjoy the location. Soon we were down through the steep section and walking along the right-of-way backup the short distance to the truck. It was great being back and getting the pack off my back. I changed in to some fresher clothes and then we started back down the washed out road. It took only a few minutes to get to the paved parking lot and then on to the highway. Our next stop was in Hope with my favourite Bistro in Hope – The Blue Moose. Loading up on coffee we were now ready for the final leg and drive home. Feeling good about the day’s achievement we had fond memories of the hike and were already planning our next adventure.