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It has been a slow start to the year for my hiking and activating summits in the Summits-on-the-Air program. I had hoped to have already completed a number in Victoria but with the virus lurking about that trip was cancelled leaving me with the snow-covered monsters at home. I don’t really like trying to subdue a snow monster, so I was left with the small mounds in my backyard! So, when things came together to hike Vedder I jumped at the chance. Today my son Nick came along and together we enjoyed the fresh air of the hike.
In planning for the hike, I had been watching the snow cams for Cypress and Seymour. They still showed a lot of snow at the 900m point and since Vedder is just over 900m I was afraid that there may be snow on the route. Fortunately, it was dry and warm with no snow to be seen. We left the house around 8:45 and soon were making our way along the roads, the traditional stop at Starbucks was skipped as it was likely closed, and we arrived to top up the fuel in short order. I noticed that the brakes seemed a bit smelly but didn’t seem overly hot, so a bit of concern but not a showstopper yet. It has been many months since the truck was out on the road so it may just need a bit of ‘breaking in’.
Once gas was loaded, we were off to the mountain. Nick was driving this portion of the trip; I would take over on the final part along the forestry road. Soon it was my turn and I was starting up the forestry road where I immediately noticed how crowded it was! SUV’s and 4x4s were parked bumper-to-bumper along the road! It seems that there were a lot of people out riding bikes and ATVs today and this was one of the few places not closed off. I snaked my way between the lines of cars and eventually made my way past the bulk of the parked vehicles. A bit more ascending and we arrived at the spur to the trailhead and turned onto it, the road seemed a bit more rutted and washed out but still very drivable. At the end I was stopped short of my preferred parking spot by 5 other vehicles already parked there. So, it looked like the trail would have more people than normal as well./p>
Well having parked behind another truck we got out and started getting our hiking gear on. After a few minutes we were off along the trail. The start of the trail now has some nice rock filled steps to get one over the deep cross ditches and berms placed to keep the atvs out. The next section of trail is along the old road and it was an easy walk up to the trail. The road seemed to be cleared and the trail wide and pleasant to use. There is obviously quite a bit of maintenance done on the trail. Soon we were onto the proper trail as it meandered its way through the trees leading to the ridge walk. This section of trail rises quickly from the road and then takes a short drop before climbing again. Well, right at the bottom of the dip I hear Ralph calling me on the radio. I try responding but being in the dip blocked my signal from the repeater. I hurried along a bit to get to the ridge so I could call back but once I did get there he wasn’t responding.
We were now about 25 minutes into the hike and Nick was already feeling exhausted and wanted to eat his energy supplement. I held him off saying we needed to wait until around the hour point, but a short rest was welcome. After the break we continued along the trail doing a few ascents and descent portions before reaching a longer steep climb. Near the top of this rise we had been hiking for just shy of an hour and so I felt it was time to take a longer break and eat some nutrients. By now a few groups had passed us and though we were in solitude most of the time the number of groups passing in both directions were higher than I had seen before.
We soon passed the north viewpoint, but a couple were standing there and so Nick kept hiking, I stopped in and gathered a few photos before catching up to Nick. The pair of girls at the viewpoint eventually passed us on the trail as we rested at the rocky viewpoint looking south at Cultus Lake. Once we had rested at the second viewpoint, we continued along making reasonable time to the sub-peak just before the decent to the small lakes below the true summit. The descent to the lake is quite annoying when one is trying to go up. Down to the lake, across the board walk, and past another pair of small ponds - we were now staring at the final steep portion of the hike. Another brief rest and up we trudged. This is at least an interesting section. The small bridge hanging off the rock face was still solid, and we crossed over it to the first of two rope sections. The rope was better anchored this time and it made the short span quick and easy to climb.
The second rope is longer, and it was now anchored at both ends making it also a bit easier to use than last time. The final short path above the ropes went quickly and soon I was dropping my gear to get a good rest at the summit. It sure felt good taking that pack off and just sitting and quietly thinking about getting a good rest before redoing the effort on the return. I decided to eat a few morsels of lunch before setting up my radio. Done with my sandwich I set up the antenna and this time I carefully pointed it due west as that was the direction my research on the maps at home had shown was the way to Vancouver. Finishing off the rest of the setup I put out a call. I immediately heard my friend Ken and across the strait Gabor. I worked Ken and then completed a Summit-to-summit call with Gabor. Over the next 45 minutes I completed 16 contacts and had nice chats with a few people.
While on the summit a number of other groups came and went, they, having reached the summit, had no reason to linger once rested and briefly enjoying the view of the Colombia Valley below. Doing SOTA does make time on the summit so much more interesting and fun. One group in particular was quite interested in what I was up to and Nick chatted with them while I operated.
Well, it may be a nice spot, but one still had to return home. So we reluctantly decided to start back. I packed up my gear and then started back along the trail. I stopped to gather a few more photos from the summit area and then it was off down the ropes and bridge and soon we were back on the boardwalk crossing the lake. Next was the long rise to the sub-peak. We were still reasonably fresh at its start and so this section started off quite well, by the end we were getting much slower. We pushed on to the rocky viewpoint and there we took a longer rest before continuing. The rest of the return trail went well, and we encountered several groups heading in plus a few zipping past us on the way out.
Finally, the truck came into view and the group we chatted with on the summit were already back having passed us on the trail. They were enjoying a cool refresher. We opened the truck and I extracted my feet from the boots, it sure felt good to give them a bit of freedom! After a good long drink of cool water, we were ready for the return to home having completed our activation of the summit with 16 contacts. Now I can start planning for the next summit.