A Snowy Hike on the Howe Sound Crest Trail

By Jane | April 26, 2015

It was a sunny spring morning in Vancouver, so when we hopped in the car to go hiking, I never expected our trail would look like this.

Surprise, there's snow on the ground.

Surprise, there’s snow on the ground.

We pulled into the parking lot at Cypress Mountain Ski Area, one of Vancouver’s local ski hills, which has been bare almost the entire ski season, to find almost 5 inches of fresh snow on the ground. It’s almost May, but the unseasonably cold weather this week (which is not what I was hoping for when I planned a biking and camping trip) has allowed a layer of new snow to stick.

Hiking in Vancouver’s mountains is always a thrill, but hiking through snow gives an added sense of grandeur to the whole affair.

Our boots were some of the first that had passed this way today and we were soon trudging along a forested path ankle deep in white.

Wet and snowy feet at Cypress Mountain.

Wet and snowy feet at Cypress Mountain.

The dogs were almost as excited about the snow as I was.

Heidi, a white fluff-ball, pretended to be an arctic fox, burying her nose in the snow to completely disguise herself, and leaping out at us in a surprise attack each time we passed. Cleo, who was designed more for sand dunes than snow drifts, picked her way daintily through the snow like a Manhattan sophisticate navigating a mud puddle in her Manolos.

Hiking the Howe Sound Crest Trail.

Hiking the Howe Sound Crest Trail.

The Howe Sound Crest Trail, which we were following today, starts with a steady ascent, so before long we were removing layers and sweating inside our waterproof jackets. The full trail runs 28km from end to end, starting at the Cypress parking lot and tracing the jagged mountaintops overlooking Howe Sound.

This video makes it look thrilling and magnificent in equal measure.

Our hike could have been on an entirely different planet. Snow fluttered down from the trees above, dusting everything with a magical sparkle. As the sun, which had just emerged from behind a dark grey bank of mist, licked the snow-laden boughs, white clumps slid from their high perches, landing on the forest floor with a wet whump.

Sun heating the towering trees, Howe Sound Crest Trail.

Sun heating the towering trees, Howe Sound Crest Trail.

Occasionally, that slide happened right over our heads and more than once an icy cold blob of wetness snaked down my collar and into my jacket.

Still smiling, despite a few clumps of snow down the back, Cypress Mountain.

Still smiling, despite a few clumps of snow down the back, Cypress Mountain.

We didn’t go quite far enough today to enjoy clear views of Howe Sound, but spotting patches of deep blue water far below gave me just a taste of what was on offer further up the trail. We hiked for around three hours today, but three hours of slipping along through the wet soft snow was plenty for my bike-tired legs to handle.

Still, I felt a little disappointed when it was time to turn back and head down the slopes. I’m determined to coming back some summer to experience the rest of the trail.  

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2 comments

  1. Comment by Stephen

    Stephen Reply April 27, 2015 at 1:08 am

    You said, “an icy cold blob of wetness snaked down my collar and into my jacket.”
    I say, “Uh, MY jacket!” I can see the photos… x

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane May 4, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      Yep, your jacket was a life saver on this trip. I don’t think mine would have handled the various kinds of precipitation nearly so well. Everyone, if you need a rain jacket, you can’t ask for better than Showers Pass.

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