By Jackie Eddy
The day started ominously after a night of steady rain. I figured maybe 6 would show for what looked like a possible very wet day and was astounded to end up with 50 legs!! 17 humans and 4 dogs!!
And after a group picture we set off up the Charters Trail. As there were several who had never been up this way before, we had a quick look at the Charters reservoir and the newish gate…then continued onward and upward. One of the reasons for this particular route was to start the endurance training for those who are signed up for the famous Kusam Klimb in June. Looking for as much steep uphill as possible for a taste, the route I selected turned out to be a little too ambitious on this day. Nonetheless we plodded our way up to the turn to Long Mt. called this by Danny and other old guys but I think on a map it says Monument. Long is a good description though. Several grand look out spots and finally at the top is a memorial plaque to a young guy who loved hiking this area during his short life.
Elevation gain was apparent as it started snowing, hailing and sleeting!! The ground had white stuff!! After a bit of making sure we were on the right trail (you do this by going one way, reversing, then go a different way, decide the other way was correct, reverse again, discuss east/west/north/south without the benefit a bright sun…but get it right in the end!) Left that trail and onto the Grasse Lake trail as planned. Side trip to the lake, so glad we did - sun shine sun shine, almost felt like going for a swim!
Back on the trail now heading towards the ‘connector’ to Highways Trail and the plan to view the sights from the top of Empress. This connector trail is always fun--a couple of small lakes to navigate and finally give up trying to keep dry feet heading along a trail that doubles as a creek. The downed log pile doubles as a bridge across a creek once again. Each winter the storms add logs and take logs away but pretty easy crossing as it turned out. No one fell in or got stuck on a log!! By the time we got to Highways Trail decided to cancel Empress for this day and just carry on to Peden Lake and have our lunch there. It was about 12:30 by this time and one does not want to be caught in the woods in the dark and it was getting very dark. The heavens opened up and gave the liquid blessing. Peden Lake was alive with rain dancing on the surface. The two women hikers at the cabin when we arrived must have been pretty surprised to see our group slosh in!!
Lunch done and head homeward. Another side trip to waterfalls (not the lower Mary Vine falls, the upper!) More picture taking. This was one of 2 surprises I had in store. The other one was the ‘pipe’. I love walking or running the pipe and the challenge of going across the trestles! Not everyone shares this view…so we broke into 2 groups. Six went on the pipe and the rest plus the pooches continued on the trail to the Goose. From there back to Charters about 2 k and a bit. Via the pipe, about 4k so group 1 arrived back to the cars a tad sooner than group 2!!
No one got lost or left behind and no one reported hypothermia that I heard about so I think considering the size of the group we did very well. Saving Empress and a different route for another day. The Klimbers will be ready for their big day in June, if not by physical conditioning, the mental pictures painted by the 2 KK vets should have every nuance covered!
Photos courtesy of Jackie, Megen. and Andrea