Have you ever had an outdoor adventure and found out later that the avalanche area you walked over occurred in the last 12 hours or less? No? Just us?
On January 9, the four week cold snap finally lifted and my friend Rachelle and I practically ran for the mountains for a day of snowshoeing. It was warm but extremely windy and the roads in after Mountain View were awful. Not wanting to drive all the way to Cameron Lake, we opted to snow shoe on Bertha trail.
Bertha trail is my go-to winter trail. It’s extremely well travelled, sheltered from the wind for the first half, and not difficult, even when the trail is snowy.
When we started the trail, there was a sign warning of avalanche danger. We looked at the areas and one was before the trail on the hill we sled on and the rest were on the other side of the mountain. We figured we would just go to the lookout and back and avoid any avalanche areas all together.
Imagine our surprise when we were only a couple hundred metres into the hike and we came across a large avalanche area! It wasn’t part of the warning area which was surprising but we climbed over it and kept going.
The snow was DEEP. And the wind was howling. And I died laughing at how slow we made any sort of progress. As we pushed along the snow kept getting if-ier and if-ier. We were a half mile in when we decided we would turn around. After all, we were just there for the fun of being outside.
In the end, it took us almost two hours to snowshoe one mile! Ha ha ha!
A week later, Rachelle sent me a link to an article about that very avalanche on Bertha trail that we hiked over occurred sometime between the evening of January 8 and noon January 9 (we started at 12:30 on Jan. 9). We were likely some of the first people to walk over it! Whoops!
I can’t think of a better reminder that I need to take avalanche safety courses and bring all the proper gear.