5th March – 2017
Hindsight is always a great thing. Big Cedar and Kennedy Falls are so close to home yet I hadn’t even heard of the trail let alone been on it. With the trail being as fun as it was, I couldn’t believe that we had waiting this long to check it out.
I think in the past I had been put off by the Lynn Canyon area as the last time I was there it was far more of a walk than a hike so wrongly assumed the trails around there were going to be ‘rubbish’. However I was happily proven wrong by this one. When it’s just the house (Sam, Arno and I) we usually shave off a couple hours from the estimated time the trail is given. This isn’t out of rushing, but more conservative estimates! With this being ‘intermediate’ and only 10k I didn’t think we would need the full 5 hours recommended.
Joining us on our trip was Rou Gui and her friend Caroline. We’d never been hiking together so not knowing what their definition of “hike” was, we thought we’d play it safe with Big Cedar and Kennedy Falls as it’s classed as ‘Intermediate’ and is only 10k.
It turned out the be harder than any of us had expected. Some of this was because it out of the ruggedness of the trail, the weather and the lack of trail markers. The other reason being the footwear of our new hiking buddies.
With a forecast of snow, we all wrapped up warm and were ready for what lay ahead. The trail head car park was closed so we parked at the bottom of a hill, but this did mean that the snow was looking pristine aside from a couple of mountain bike trails.
The trail starts off easy enough. Flat with obvious trail, despite the snow doing a good job at covering up where we had to go. We came to a fork in the trail which didn’t really give any clear direction to which was the right way, we decided to go ‘right’; soon enough there were the questions of “are we on the right trail?”. Throughout the whole way out to Kennedy Falls we went off trail but with a keen eye for the coloured ribbons, the footprints of someone who was ahead of us (it’s difficult not to get confused as to which are yours, that’s for sure) and a check on my trail app we made our way at a steady pace.
Although we were probably covering twice as much ground as we needed to if we had known the route, we were making good time. We had seemingly got to the Big Cedar that was in the trail description far before the estimated time of 1.5 hours. We were in full confidence that we would be there and back within the 5 hours. Although we were certainly at one of the Old cedar, it wasn’t THE Cedar. This came over an hour later.
We had slowed down between this point at the falls. There was far more snow than we had anticipated and so it was either icy or feet thick. This was fine for us that had suitable footwear, but for Caroline this was an issue. With the lack of grip on her boots, she was slipping and sliding all over the place. So where we were steadily walking down small hills and climbing down the rugged trail, Caroline was having to go down on her bum. This was not ideal (especially for her bum) but probably the right decision given the situation. There were some narrow logs which needed crossing that falling off wouldn’t be too fun.
So what started out as a casual hike for us became more of an adventure as time went on. It was snowing as we were going on, there were numerous creeks for us to tip toe over (OK, I walked straight through as I had waterproof boots) and we were having to figure out where we were going without getting lost. There were logs to climb over, logs to crawl under, and even a nice little rope to help us down a steeper part.
But for all this, even if some were more prepared than others, it was beautiful. It was silent in the forest and then there was the sound of flowing water at the creeks. The creeks provided us with an opening the forest that looked down into Lynn Canyon, and then the eerie view looking up through the forest that would end up going to Mt Fromme it was overall a perfect place to be on a Snowy Monday.
Once we finally got to Kennedy Falls we were very happy. The first thing I thought was “I bet this will be great in Summer”! The falls were absolutely gorgeous and with the sound that goes along with it made me feel like I was in heaven. A cold heaven. We stuck around for maybe 15 minutes. I had some lunch (Quinoa Special), had a well deserved drink and took some photos.
I think we all would have liked to have stayed a lot longer (for the rest and the beauty) but as soon as we stop the cold creeps in. So once we are ready we start to make our way back. It was far quicker getting back to where we had come from. We were familiar with the trail so we recognised most of where had just been so we took far fewer detours. We also had our tracks to follow however they had already started to disappear as the snow was getting heavier as the afternoon went on.
Caroline struggled with the rest of the way back. It was slow going as her shoes really didn’t help her one bit. Every step had the potential for a calamitous fall, so on the flats she was going very steady indeed, and on anything of an incline she was literally on her hands and knees crawling. This was going to make the way back even more tiring than just hiking. We all kept within shouting / sight distance though so we remained together for the most part. We know this is just common sense but this came to life a little more when Caroline slipped off one of those logs that we used as a bridge. It had plenty of snow pack on top but there was also softer snow which was resting on neighbouring bushes. The bush clearly wasn’t going to hold anyone, so when she trod on it she just went down. It was awkward because she couldn’t push up on anything and her feet were still on the log so her head was pointing downwards. I am sure she would have been able to get out but at this point I had in my head that it was going to be a long way home. I was picturing the scenario – 4 foreign nationals (English, Belgian, French and Venezuelan) with inappropriate footwear and ‘gear’ getting lost in the snowy trails of North Van.
Alas, soon enough we were at the first Big Cedar and that meant one thing, nearly back to the start. In all, we had been our for about 6 hours, so we were all very pleased to sit down in a warm car and blast on that heating. 35 minutes later we would be back at home with a hot cup of Joe and ready to put our feet up.
Moral of the story? Wear. Good. Shoes!