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The weather since our earlier hike has been warmer and we had several good days for snow to melt. The white stuff around the yard was mostly gone, so I was hopeful the trail on Farrer would be easier to navigate. This trip I packed some grips and some heavier crampons just in case. Unfortunately Ralph was unable to join me for this hike so I was on my own for the adventure.
As before, I set out at 9:30 and made for Starbucks and then the highway. It was a lovely day, better than the previous time and I was looking forward to a pleasant hike in the trees and sun. As I got into the town of Anmore I started to see larger patches of snow and at the park it was still piled up fairly deep along the edge of the road. Things really didn’t look much different. I found a parking spot near my previous one and there I got my gear on and some grips for my boots. I then made for the trail and the sign warning of icy conditions.
The lower trail was still covered in snow but with the grips I made fast time as there was no worry about slipping. I soon was at the bridge where I noticed that the ice on the lake was showing patches of open water where previously it was solid. Over the bridge and onto the Diez Vistas Trail, it was still covered in patchy snow and some ice on the initial climb but once past that short section the trail was much clearer of snow than last time. I made quick time along the trail into the upper area where I encountered some snow once again. Soon I was at the powerline gap. It having taken me only 50 minutes to get here compared to well over an hour last time.
The next section of steeper trail was also clear of snow and it allowed me to continue at a fast pace up the slope and before overly long I was at the spot that turned us back last time. Today there was only bare trail in the area! So nice, as I could continue up without worry. I did start to encounter some small patches of ice on the trail but it was easy to navigate and soon I was to the first view point. This is really not one of the 10 views but it is still a great sight out towards Indian Arm and Vancouver. I took a few minutes to rest and chat with a few others who were enjoying the view.
Well, enough of the view it was time to find the summit and set up for some radio work. I started up the steep section of trail above the viewpoint and soon encountered hard packed snow on the trail, this continued for the rest of my time along the upper ridge. The grips definitely helped along this section. I quickly reached the top ridge line and the location SOTA marks as the summit. I wanted to locate the point that Google Earth marks as the summit so I continued along the trail towards that spot. As I approached the location I noticed that it was actually in a dip but to my left was a higher mound so to it I made my way.
Once off the packed trail I was pushing through a foot of deep snow and climbing up a short mound. At the top the snow as deep but it packed down easily so I made a small area of packed snow and there I set down my pack and spread out my tarp. I had arrived. It was 12:15, only 1:45 since I left the car. I had 45 minutes before my scheduled start time so I decided to take a rest and eat lunch before setting up my radio. Once I had finished lunch I started pulling out the radio parts and assembled the antenna and soon I was on the air. It was only 12:40 so I was still early but it was close enough.
I put out a few calls and soon had Ken from the White Rock club in my log along with Carolyn and Ralph. As 1pm arrived I made contact with another SOTA chap on Hollyburn Mountain and I had a summit-to-summit (S2S) in the log. That was followed by my fellow SOTA friend in Victoria who climbed a small summit just to work us with an S2S as well. I continued making a few more contacts but I was having a hard time with reception so it was a struggle. I did make a third S2S with a person in the Olympic Peninsula! So 3 S2S on one activation was quite something. As I was closing down I turned off my high power amp and suddenly I could hear stations much better! It seems that it was interfering with my reception. So annoying, I need to use a better system next time.
Once packed up I decided to continue along the trail to the first of the official viewpoints which offers a spectacular view of the fjord and Vancouver beyond. It was worth the effort to come this far. I then turned back and when I got to the fork where there is a loop to an eastern viewpoint that I hadn’t walked before I decided to explore that trail as well. The view here is of Buntzen Lake itself but it is partially overgrown and the view not very good. As I left the viewpoint I found the trail hard to find and it took checking with my map to relocate it for the rest of the way back to the main trail. Once on the main trail I made quick time back down it to the powerline gap where I took a breather before continuing on. The sun was warm and bright and the air warm so it was a pleasant spot to rest at.
Once rested I started for the car along the same route I ascended. I was back to the car in 45 minutes having had no issues on the decent. It was a good day out and I quite enjoyed the hike. Though I had a very successful activation of the summit, my gear needs further work to get it where it needs to be. It just always seems to have some issue, but I guess that is what makes amateur radio interesting.