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Photo courtesy of Dave Norona
A few years ago as a New Year’s resolution I promised myself that on every full moon I would do something special. Well, as our group loaded up our packs and headed off into the bush a euphoric feeling came over my body — I knew we were in for an epic.
Winter hiking can be dangerous. You must be prepared to carry lots of gear to handle all the situations that you may encounter. ice axe, crampons, snowshoes, and extra clothing is just some of the stuff that is mandatory! Here’s why:
Leaving the comfort of our cars behind, we made our way up through Lynn Headwaters and followed the icy path toward Norvan Falls. As darkness settled in, our headlamps became our best friend to guide us through the forest floor. Reaching Norvan Falls we stopped briefly for a quick drink out of the refreshing creek before crossing the cable bridge into Hanes Valley.
The Hanes Valley is one of my favourite hikes as it offers amazing vistas in an open valley surrounded by mountainous terrain. The trail is definitely tough and the huge amount of snow made it even tougher. Our snowshoes kept us afloat as we meandered through the forest floor with our headlamps lighting up the reflective markers that showed us the way. As we reached Hanes Valley the tight trees disappeared and we were rewarded with brilliant clear skies with the full moon peering over the mountains at us. It was here that I surprised the group as I pulled out a firelog from my pack. I set it on some broken branches and soon we were enjoying our surroundings with a warm fire.
After gorging on bread, cheese and warm drinks, we loaded back up and made our way up the tough climb to the base of Crown Mountain.
There had been numerous avalanches through this valley and our pace was slowed by the huge debris and uneven terrain we had to negotiate. As we neared the top, ice axes and crampons were necessary to ascend the steep icy slopes.
This was the worst I had seen Hanes Valley in the 30 or so times I had been through over the last 10 years.
Our group worked in unison to make sure everyone was comfortable and safe. The tough terrain continued as we ascended further up the backside of Goat Mountain and again our crampons saved us, as it was impossible to make even a dent in the snow pack.
Atop the final climb on Dam Mountain we rejoiced in our efforts with some more chocolate before hammering down the snowcat road to the bar in the Grouse Mountain Chalet.
Kahtoola Flexable Crampons
Description: If you plan on winter hiking, then crampons should be a part of your mandatory gear. These Kahtoola’s are super light and can be used with runners, day hikers or mountain boots. Contoured heel cup, tool-free length adjustment and 10 sharp points to grab the snow and ice. Price range: $139
Where to find it: www.kahtoola.com
Mountain Hardwear Women’s Sub Zero Jacket
Description: With the right gear you can go anywhere and be warm and comfortable. The sub zero jacket is designed to keep you warm thanks to its 650-fill goose down. At 652 grams it is super light and packs up into your pack with ease. Price range: $279
Where to find it: www.mountainhardwear.com
Thermos Vacuum Bottle
Description: Keep your favourite drink or soup warm and handy on any outdoor hike with the Thermos Vacuum Bottle. Made of lightweight, durable stainless steel, twist and pour stopper and plastic lined drink cup.
Price range: $12-16
Where to find it: www.thermos.com
Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe
Description: An ice axe is one of the essentials you must carry if you are hiking into the backcountry during the winter. The Raven Pro is a super light axe with a one-piece stainless steel head and aluminum body. It has an ergonomic hand platform for comfort and is available in 60-, 65-, or 70-centimetre lengths.
Price range: $120
Where to find it: www.dakine.com