Sunday, August 04, 2013

Running trails in Strathcona Provincial Park and Forbidden Plateau

Two weeks in a row now the pleasant summer weather has made it possible for Louis Nadeau and I to run the trails of Strathcona Provincial Park and Forbidden Plateau.
The first Saturday we attempted to run from Forbidden Plateau to Raven Lodge, Mount Washington. We met-up at Mount Washington, Raven Lodge, around 7 a.m. arriving in separate cars, left one vehicle there, before driving together back to highway 19, towards the top of Forbidden Plateau where our run would begin.

The Forbidden Plateau side the trail wasn't very well marked out or maintained. Once onto the north side of the mountain, we found the switchback trails winding down had many fallen trees across it that we had to scramble over to continue.

But much of the trail from Forbidden Plateau was runnable. We power hiked the steeper inclines. 8km in, the trail seemed to vanish. We followed what we thought was the continuation of the trail (more like a deer trail) to Douglas Lake, where we found a rustic cabin which was unlocked and luckily had a supply of filtered water I could use to refill my camel pack.
After a while of going in circles we found a trail leading north that eventually lead us out of the park to a series of logging roads. We could see Forbidden Plateau at some points as we ran the logging roads. Exposed to the sun, things heated up quickly. We took breaks in the shade to have a power gel or to take in salt capsules.
When the steep logging road came to an end we found ourselves in a clearing surrounded by tree stumps and rotting logs. Walking to the edge of a nearby bog we continued heading west, knowing that Paradise Meadows was in that direction. We could see on Louis' I-phone map we were just off to the east of the park. No signs of a trail appeared. We came to a larger lake with an old campfire that gave us hope, but how did people get there? We decided to follow a narrow stream with a good flow of water and hiked higher. At one point I splashed my face and cupped my hands to drink water from a small falls before climbing up it. Refreshed, I soon saw signs of civilization - an old rusty cart wheel lying on the river stone, and then we heard a voice, a lady, she was standing on a bridge, saying, "Are you lost?"
I think we were somewhere near Lady Lake. With a very runnable trail to now follow we got into stride and made it back to the parking area near Raven Lodge in good time. Overall the 28kms took us 6 hours and twenty nine minutes. We had almost 4000 feet in elevation gain, much of that probably from the steep logging roads we had to go up and down.

This Saturday we met at the Raven Lodge parking area on Mount Washington, same time. Louis brought his son Dom along for the run. Dom was a B.C. provincial cross country running finalist last year, and is also a top road racer on the island for his age category. We asked him to take it easy on us old goats.
The trail was much simpler to follow than the week before, with many runnable sections. It became more technical as we came to the foot of Mount Albert Edward. Steep sections there, we had to be careful on, due to loose footing. Sometimes we were down on all fours scrambling up roots and boulders. We were inside the clouds, and couldn't see very far once past 5000 feet. There were fewer trees and it seemed harder to catch our breath

When we reached the summit I found a patch of snow and made a snow angel, cooling off the quads. We took some photos and refilled our camel packs with ice. I made a Gatorade slushy.
On the way down we met up with many hikers with heavy backpacks, taking advantage of the long weekend. Seeing that we were running, they politely stepped to the side of the path and let us pass. I thought I came across a bear when a black nose came around one corner, but it belonged to a large Labrador dog, thankfully. We were very tired by this point in the run so I wouldn't have been able to do much if it was a real bear.
Dom was waiting for us in the shade when we got back to the Raven Lodge parking lot. The 25km run took us old goats 6 hours and 22 minutes with 3000 feet in elevation gain.

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