I know I was supposed to post more pictures from my trip to Macau and Hong Kong, but those can be put up quickly at any time!
Summer is in full bloom and I just completed my first over-nighter of the season!
Just as a brief intro, Burke Mountain is located in Coquitlam, BC and is home to many mountain biking trails as well as the Pinecone-Burke Provincial Park, More info can be found here: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/pinecone/ HOWEVER, as a disclaimer, the maps and info on this website is fairly if not highly outdated. It is as if BC parks gave up on this park.
We first parked at the top of Harper Road, just across the orange gate to access the trails. Apart from a no campfires sign there is almost no indication that this is a provincial park, partially due to the construction that is going on.
Shortly after heading up the road, we met a fork, I pulled out my phone with pre-downloaded maps from Backcountry Navigator, and was approached by a couple who greeted us. We chatted briefly and they asked us where we were headed and they gave us directions on how to approach the Burke Summit Trail we were also warned of high waters that would result in the trail being impassable. We decided to proceed with their directions anyways and see where it would take us until we hit the first landmark, a green gate. They told us to head on the left trail of the gate but something seemed off. Left went down the mountain and right went up, again I consulted with my maps and chose to ignore their directions. LESSON #1: Local knowledge is NOT always good knowledge. We carried onwards towards the summit and came upon another lone hiker who said that we were on the right route and also consulted us on how to continue on to Munro Lake.
Upon reaching the summit we had to decide whether to follow this man’s advice or to ignore it! We quickly scouted out our first option and choose to take the advice and head back down the mountain slightly. We saw a turn off that was not the turn off suggested by the man and decided to take it hoping to cut some time off our detour. Thanks to years of orienteering experience we were fortunate enough to cut directly into the old ski village on the mountain. Lesson #2: Pack a friggen compass!
As we continued on, the trail lead us to a bunch of mixed flagging tape that eventually lead us to a big orange signs with a canoe and Munro Lake written on it, so on we went. The straight line distance from the village is not all that far, but we quickly found out that distance is all relative.
Our “trail” slowly became less of a trail and more of a constant bushwack; however, it was very well marked, like VERY WELL MARKED! There were signs that Rescue Teams have been in the area and that did not surprise us one bit. We carried on with this deadfall covered trail for 4 hours until we reached the lake. During the whole hike my shins were being knackered and I kept saying that I would throw on my gaiters and never did. By the time we reached the lake it was too late and my shins were a mess. Lesson #3: Just stop and make use of the gear you have, you will likely not regret it!
Upon reaching the lake our first priority was shade, as the heat was only about to get worse and we really didn’t feel like being cooked alive. With a little bit of MacGyverism, we were able to erect a temporary sun shade to keep us out of direct exposure. Hiking poles, string and tarp resulted in the perfect fix. This, I feel, is the perfect example of why you standardize what you pack! You never know when certain bits and pieces become potentially life saving!
After dealing the sun we started up the stove had dinner and began settling in for the night. As the day went on we realized that the heat was a bit too much to bear and that the only thing we could do was rest. As a result, we used the Geigerrig hydration bladders we had filled with filtered lake water (via MSR Hyperflow) as a cold pillow and took a short nap. When the sun eventually stopped it’s assault, we tried to spend a bit of time outside. It was fairly unfortunate that the mosquitoes and bugs decided that we would not be spending any time outside exploring and called it a night. Tent up, sleep it out!
The return trip was more of the same, bushwack, bushwack, bushwack… and back to the truck we went. Glad we got off the mountain and happy we did the trip.
Would I recommend this hike to anyone? No…… Maybe…..
If you are like me and have a slight accident in your pants every time you lose the trail. Definitely NO! As well marked as the trail is, there is essentially no trail, no well worn path to comfort you. As a result of all the debris and downed trees, the flagging tape is just a guide and you will end up losing track of it many many times trying to find a detour around all the downed trees. The explanation I can think of is that God came to this trail, and toppled every 4th “big” tree and laid it directly over the trail. Just go check out the village and head home, there is nothing else for you there. I guess after ending the summer last year with such epic hikes, this one seemed much more of a downer in comparison.
If there is one thing I learned from this trip, It was to trust my instincts. It was my (our) instincts that got us out of trouble and help us make it to our final destination, yes people do have good insight, but at the end of the day, you know your skill level and abilities better than anyone else. When I didn’t listen to my gut, that was when I regretted it the most (gaiters!). We noticed that on many occasions, many things came naturally to us from years of backcountry experience. When we lost the trail marker, automatically we could set up a rendezvous point (last know marker) and conduct a search of the area. When we came upon a fork, we followed known destination bearings and followed our instincts instead of “poor” local knowledge… I’m sure all of these individuals meant well, but at the end of the day, mother nature as well as humans are constantly changing the terrain. You need to depend on yourself to get you where you want to go!