Sit down, grab a coffee.This write-up turned out to be more of an epic than I expected.
Sometime during the week Tim tells me that Craig’s planned a Vancouver 100 training run to cover the route from the new start of the Knee Knacker (KKNSTR) to Cleveland Dam.Apart from the training benefits, there are two main goals for this run: 1) familiarize ourselves with the new KKNSTR start (or the Vancouver 100 ½ way point, if you like); 2) check out the snow conditions on the top of Black and HollyburnMountains.“Sounds like a great idea”, says I.“As long as I can work out the kid arrangements, count me in.Where do we meet and when?”“We’re to meet at at Cleveland Dam Saturday morning and car pool it to the start.”Huh??What kind of sick person would plan a training run for ?Tim, being the astute fellow that he is, manages to scrounge us up an extra ½ hour of sleep by arranging to have his amazingly accommodating wife Maureen drop us off at 7:30 at the start.We’ll meet everyone else there.
.Game day.Get up.Check e-mail.Craig’s sent a message at Friday night informing us that he’s just going to drive up to Cypress and run from that point towards BlackMountain.Mike Wardas, who was also supposed to be joining us, has also bailed.This means it’s just going to be Tim and myself running up Black from the KKNSTR start but, more significantly, WE DIDN’T HAVE TO GET UP AT 6 AM!!In the Queen’s best accent now … “We are not amused!”Too late.Might was well go through with it now.
(ish).Maureen drops us off at the start.It’s raining very lightly but seems relatively warm.We’re off.Tim did this section before (with all of the requisite wrong turns) so route finding is fairly straight forward.We both feel overdressed as it’s really quite muggy.Glad I got to see this section as it would have been very difficult to find during the Vancouver 100 if that was my first exposure to it.
A little under 1.5 hours gets us to the top of Eagle Bluffs.It seems most of the mist and rain was down on the lower slopes of the mountain as it’s starting to clear a bit and the rain stopped somewhere before the bottom of the scree slopes.No snow yet but we expect to hit it soon.
We do.Lot’s of it.Four to five feet of the white stuff still up there slowed our progress significantly and made route finding tricky but we did manage to make our way through to the top of the chairlift via CabinLake as intended.Based on the footprints (or lack thereof) in the snow nobody else has been up there recently.You definitely wouldn’t want to be doing this section on your own right now.The combination of two sets of eyes and pretty good familiarity with what direction we should be going when made it a lot more do-able.Though there was lots of snow on this section, it was relatively easy to travel on and not particularly treacherous.For what it’s worth, I’d say there’s less snow up there now than there was on KKNSTR race day for “The Year of the Snow”.
Heading down the ski run from BlackMountain into a strong headwind, neither of us feels overdressed anymore.About half way down, we finally run into the local Press who film and interview us for the local news … Okay.It was Craig with a hand-held video camera but it kind of felt like an interview.
After a short interlude, we head off down the run towards the Cypress Bowl parking lot and start doing the math.We calculate the Craig must have started his ascent up BlackMountain around .If you recall back at the beginning of this epic, it was he who had organized the original meeting time of yet he, himself, doesn’t actually start his run until .Nice.This will not be forgotten.
In the parking lot, we run into Rob MacDonald.He waited at at Cleveland Dam for the car pool to the start but, when nobody showed, decided to do an out-and-back from Cleveland.Doh!He was still heading further onwards (up BlackMountain) so he was really putting in a long run.Sounds like he’s been getting in lots of training so he should be looking at a really good Vancouver 100 km.
After a very lengthy chat and bottle refill, Tim and I begin the last leg from Cypress to the Dam.During the “Year of the Snow” KKNSTR, I found this to be the toughest section.We weren’t disappointed.Tim punches a hole in the snow with his leg saying, “Watch out for that …”Too late!I punch a hole through the snow.Being the quick learners that we are, we only repeated this five or six more times each before realizing the rule “STAY AWAY FROM THE TREES AND FALLEN LOGS.”We mutually decided that this would be a good time to waive the long-standing training rule of owing the witnesses a beer for each wipe out you take.I don’t think there’s enough beer brewed locally anyway.
There were also some pretty treacherous creek crossings in this section.The problem was that the creeks were typically 20 feet down mostly vertical snow banks and, in one case in particular where there was no bridge, involved first leaping across to a mid-stream boulder (there was a snow bridge to it but, with the water clearly running underneath it, neither of us felt like testing it’s weight threshold), and then leaping from the boulder to a rather slick-looking log on the other side of a rather fast-flowing creek.Screwing up here would have been costly.This will be “fun” during the Vancouver 100.At any rate, we eventually made it to the Hollyburn high point and readied ourselves for the easy decent.
Problem is, things tend to look a bit different with 4 feet of snow on them than without.Finding the correct route down to the Upper Warming Hut proved to be a little trickier than expected and involved a couple of short turns on incorrect trails and finally taking a trail that just “felt right” as we hadn’t seen any BP markers for awhile.Fortunately, we were right and found the Warming Hut relatively quickly.
Route-finding issues behind us, the return trip from there was relatively uneventful.Ran into a couple with there dog and a baby strapped to the woman’s chest.They asked where we’d come from to which they responded … “Oh!We didn’t know you could get to HorseshoeBay from here.How long would that take?”To which we responded: “Don’t even think about it.”Snow pretty much ran out just before the top of the descent after the Ranger Cabin just above the start of the Chute.Ran into a couple of lady hikers there who were wondering if they’d be able to make it to Eagle Bluffs in three hours (they’d taken 2 hours to get from Millstream Rd. to that point).Given that it had taken us about three hours running from the Bluffs, we suggested that they might want to consider Cypress Bowl their target and even that via the road from the X-Country Ski area due to the treacherous nature of the section from Hollyburn to Cypress.It felt like we convinced them.
Met Maureen back at Cleveland Dam around .We’d estimated about 3 ½ hours for this section (Tim ran it during last year’s KKNSTR in just under 3 and I typically run it in just over 3).Actual time was 4 ½ hours.Adjust your Vancouver 100 estimates accordingly.