Success! I completed this hike in 7 hours. It would’ve been a lot less if I hadn’t gotten lost. But what kind of hike would I have if I didn’t have a set back here or there. It was a beautiful day today. I have never been so glad so see a scattering of cloud. The high was supposed to be 24 degrees. But there was a lovely breeze throughout the day. So the temperatures were not too bothersome, unlike my attempt last week with this hike. Since I had hiked a tiny portion of this last week, I already knew what to expect. I paced myself nicely and gave myself lots of stop and water breaks. My gasps were not so out of control like last week. It was more of a regulated heavy breathing during the switchbacks. I saw the spot where I stopped last time and then I kept right on going passed it. I strongly suggest humming ColdPlay’s “The Scientist” as you tackle the switchbacks. It’ll help regulate breathing and the words to the chorus are so applicable: “Nobody said it was easy, No one ever said it would be so hard.” Stop there, because the next line in the chorus says he’s going back to the start. Don’t do it! The third view-point alone is worth the effort.
There definitely was not as many people on the trail this week, which suited me just fine. However there were still plenty of flies and mosquitoes. This time, I came well prepared. Bug spray with Deet. Sprayed on first, just after getting out of the car and then two hours into the hike and several more times going. Well worth it, to be mosquito free!
I made it all the way to the first view-point and I was very glad I attempted this hike a second time. The view was very impressive. I continued onto the second viewpoint which was okay. Trees had grown in, so the view was cut off a bit. But really, you must go to the third viewpoint. That is the absolute best out of all of them. After seeing the third viewpoint all the others are kind of a let down, more so because the trees had grown in to block the view. The other thing is the view is generally all the same, just from different angles. I stopped at the second view-point for lunch. It was really nice all by myself. I turn on my iPhone for some music while I ate. I didn’t see a single soul while I was stopped there. It was great. And since I didn’t see anyone else on the trail, I decided to play my music as I hiked. I figured I should listen to my “New Zealand” playlist and see if it was trip or hike worthy. For the most part, Yes. But it will still require tweaking. When I got to the third viewpoint, I only stopped long enough to shoot a few pictures. It was kind of crowded up there. Once you get passed the switchbacks, the rest of the trail is actually really nice. The worst was over. And technically it was. I made really good time. I was at hour five when I finally got off of the Diez Vistas trail. Now I had to find the Buntzen Lake Trail. It’s a shame I saw the Old Buntzen Lake Trail and made the assumption that that was the trail I wanted. Had the brush not grown out, I would’ve spotted the post with the marker for the Buntzen Lake Trail and I would’ve saved myself 45 minutes of grief.
So I headed onto the Old Buntzen Lake Trail and followed the signs all the way out to a service road. To the right, it leads down to this one lane crossing. Cross that and you encounter signs warning of “Sudden Flooding” and “Keep Off” and “Danger”. WHAT? All I need now is a guy in a mask with a chainsaw. So I turned around and followed the road in the other direction and I see this other sign. “WARNING Construction ahead. No Public Access.” WHAT? Where in the world was I? I had made a left at the last fork in the trail. And really, the sign pointed towards the Old Buntzen Lake Trail. The other trail didn’t even have a name. But maybe that was it. So I backtracked and made it back to the fork. I head down this un-named trail and soon I see where it is leading me. Down below the bridge where there was a warning sign of “Sudden Flooding”. Holy Crap! I have never hiked up a trail as quickly as I did this day. It wasn’t until I got to the fork again that I saw the red tape marked “Restricted”, torn from the post and just lying on the side. Seriously! If it’s a restricted trail, perhaps use something a little more sturdy than flimsy red tape. So, now that I have explored all trails on this Old Buntzen Lake Trail, my only option was to head all the way back to the Diez Vistas trail. The option up there was to take the Buntzen Lake Trail or go in the other direction towards Powerhouse road. I guess I was stuck walking the road. And that’s when I met two other girls who were lost. Hurray! They were also looking for the suspension bridge. After much discussion, we decided to hike out together and as we stepped off the Old Buntzen Lake Trail, that was when we saw it. The sign post for the Buntzen Lake Trail. COMPLETELY different from the Old Buntzen Lake Trail. With the two girls in the lead, we stepped onto this other trail and started going up. Along the way, the girls were picking berries off the bush to eat, while me with my bear bell behind them is thinking about the bears that also might like to stop and eat the berries. And then we heard the rustling. All I could think was, the bear will eat them first. But it actually turned out to be a deer. Wow! I guess being lost was totally worth it. It was so close to us. It was really amazing. Finally we reached a fork in the trail. It wasn’t marked really well, but since we were already lost, heading down another path would not kill us. And since I knew the park wouldn’t close till 8pm, I had plenty of time to get lost. As we headed further down this trail, we could see the water and hear voices. We had to be headed in the right direction. And then there it was. The suspension bridge. Yay!
After crossing the bridge and stopping in the middle to feel the breeze blowing, I stopped at the North Beach and took a few more photos before heading back on to the trail. First I had to head up the road to find the trail. And I did, but it was leading me back to the North Beach! I ended bumping into the same people that I had passed earlier on the suspension bridge. After back tracking, I finally found the correct trail, with the same name. Really, would it hurt to have a marker that said “Buntzen Lake Trail – North Beach” and “Buntzen Lake Trail – South Beach”. It would help a lot! Really, It would! Well, once I made it onto the right trail, it was relatively smooth sailing from there. There were a lot more people on the trail, many headed in the opposite direction. I guess they wanted the relative quiet of the North Beach as compared to the South Beach. I was so eager to get back, that I started to jog downhill when I could. I also knew that I was getting closer to civilization, because my phone started to beep. It was Sister C, wondering where I was. Unfortunately, after passing certain spots, “No Service” would reappear so I could not text her back.
Something else I discovered on this hike, my fingers and hands swell up during strenuous exercise. I noticed it last week, but it wasn’t so bad since I was only out for 3 hours. I thought at the time that was just the weather, but when it happened again this time, I had to google it when I got home. But in the mean time, I thought I just needed to move my hand and arms a bit, so I’m swinging my arms like crazy as I walked this last bit, then I clenched and unclenched my fingers as I continued on. I even held my hands above my head, as if I was holding onto my hat on a windy day. Needless to say that if someone was watching from behind, they would’ve thought that was some crazy lady hiker walking a busy trail with a bear bell doing weird things with her arms…we should slow down and give her some distance.
Well, like I said, Success. I finished my hike, including all my set backs in exactly 7 hours. I definitely hiked more than 15 kms with all my backtracking. I am going to sleep so well tonight. It’ll be a miracle if I make it to work on time tomorrow. Next week, St. Marks Summit with Korri.
Other links I would suggest you look at, if you are interested in hiking the Sendero Diez Vista hike or just visiting the lake:
The BC hydro webpage – Buntzen Lake is on BC hydro land.