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Snow Shock on Big Slide. Recovery hike and "hardness training".

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  • Snow Shock on Big Slide. Recovery hike and "hardness training".

    After hiking Saw-Hay-Saw in a heat wave 5 days prior I wasn't fully recovered. Plus, I had done a zone 2 and a zone 3 workout two days in a row which included a quick trip to Phelps the evening before. My plan was to begin hiking directly from our camp at South Meadows at 7am. Sylvie would pick me up at the Garden at 6PM. I awoke at 5:30 in darkness and listened to rain beating on the tent. Hardness training? I did the smart thing and snuggled deeper into my bag and went back to sleep.

    At 8 I left Sylvie and our friend Melanie still asleep and strode purposefully down the road. I decided to try wearing shell mitts, cycling shorts under rain pants and a t-shirt. This was a good combo but I was kicking myself for not wearing my Tingly rubber overshoes, which were back home. Didn't take long before my feet started getting wet inside my hiking boots. As long as I was moving uphill my arms remained warm but once I passed Klondike Notch and descended to the Yard junction they grew chilly. The junction is only 10 minutes down so I kept breezing along. The ascent of Yard is about 1200 feet and alternates between gently ascending traverses and plenty of very steep sections. The trail is narrow and I brushed against wet spruce boughs continuously. Because this was a recovery hike I held my pace as best I could to the upper limits of Z1.

    At a clearing I turned to look at Howard and Phelps Peaks and to my surprise they were covered in a mantle of snow. It was going to be an interesting hike! At about 3500 feet I saw the first little patch trail-side. Before long the trees were covered and I was brushing bare arms and t-shirt covered shoulders against wet snow. Hypothermia was knocking at the door so I stopped and put a rain jacket on over my soaked t-shirt. I also put on a wool hat and a baseball cap. My shell mitts were soaked, inside and out, but they held some heat. It was a beautiful hike but water and snow bombs were pouring down on me.
    As I strolled easily to Big Slide I ran through my options for the rest of the day's hike. I had pushed the pick-up time up to 7 and it was only 11-ish. I was going to be getting some serious hardness training I mused as I stopped and put on my only pair of wool mitts. On the summit I wrung out my socks and swapped my rain jacket for a hard shell and put on a bala-clava under my toque. Across the way there was a lot less snow on the Great Range and people were arriving on Big Slide looking pretty dry. Encouraging, and indeed the drop to Johns Brook was nice and dry.

    I decided I had enough time to do Gothics via Orebed and cross over to Wolf Jaw Notch. I kept moving along, fueling on sushi rice squares (sushi rice,sugar, chopped apple and cinnamon). People coming down Orebed talked of greasy rock and one gentleman cautioned me about snow and darkness. I was now back to shorts and a t-shirt and it was about 3 pm, just below the Orebed "stairway to heaven". I had crossed Orebed Brook at 2 and I wanted to be on Gothics at 4 to be out by 7 so Sylvie wouldn't have to wait. The time was looking good and I steadfastly resisted the urge to go too fast, this being a recovery hike.
    The trail got steeper and steeper and more and more slippery. Then it relented and I was at the col. The fun was about to begin and during the ascent of Gothics my heart rate blew through the recovery and lower zones into the lactic acid zone for the next half-hour. I made the top as hoped for, at exactly 4 pm.
    I had made friends on the way up and they decided to accompany me rather than return via the cables and Orebed. I shared their excellent food (french bread with awesome tuna dip), joking it was pre-payment for guiding services. I was freezing to death up there and time was ticking away so I convinced my new friends to pack up and go and off we went. They were very fit but not very experienced and it came out they had no headlamps and their only map was a photo in the phone of some old map. This provided me with fodder for lots of good-natured ribbing and ball busting and I explained some things as we cruised.

    And cruise we did , over Armstrong with bone-chilling winds and exceptional views as clouds raked Gothics' North Face. Then over Upper Wolf Jaw which was calm, crowded and warm. My hiking partner had me dictate into his phone a list of my fave peaks and key gear he was going to acquire on his quest to become a winter 46-er.

    We made it out at 7:20 under my headlamp's glow and at one point I switched it off to hammer home the importance of carrying a headlamp (or two, or three). They definitely got the point! It was a great 11 hour hike and I was amazed to see I had only consumed about 12 oz. of water without feeling thirsty and eating regularly. I made up for that back at South Meadows with a few Blue Moons. The temperature went down well below freezing that night but we were snug and warm in our bags.
    Project-100: 100 peaks, one winter.

  • #2
    Wow, quite a recovery hike... I hope it wasn't us driving by at 5:30am that woke you up! And yeah, Saturday night was colllld. Prying apart frosted over tent poles at 5:30am Sunday wasn't my favourite part of the day.
    46/46, 45/46


    • #3
      Fun read, good description of the conditions Saturday.

      Originally posted by Neil View Post
      I was now back to shorts and a t-shirt and it was about 3 pm, just below the Orebed "stairway to heaven".
      We must have missed running into you by mere seconds; we were descending Saddleback at that time.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Neil View Post
        the importance of carrying a headlamp (or two, or three)
        I've taken to carrying one if I expect to not need a headlamp and two if I'm planing to use one. Nice to know I'm not alone in my redundancy.

        Sounds like a great hike. Some time I'll have to take my heart rate monitor with me. I just think the chest strap would annoy me under a backpack.
        46/46 11/46W