JOE CHAWANTEN PEAK

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    TRIP REPORT: CHAWANTEN PEAK

    So how many of you NSH have climbed this peak? My guess not many but perhaps this should change. Considering the time of year and the avalanche risks we all have to consider this is a great mountain to put on the list. The only problem, if this is really a concern, is the location. You have to drive about three hours from Vancouver south east past the main ski area at Manning Park to Boyd’s Meadow parking lot on Monument 83 Trail. It is a long drive for a day hike.

    You start around 1000 metres and summit out at 2154 with a total cumulative gain of some 1300 metres. The real test is 27 km on snow shoes with the first 7 only having a gradual grade. Then you ascend. The snow quality was crunchy for the bottom half and fantastic higher up. With temperatures at the parking lot around minus 11 and then decline to -20 at the summit with some wind made things a little chilly.

    The day started with a jolt. At first I was to drive but once out to the parking lot at 160th to pick up our Bridge and Tunnel members we ended up switching trucks. This was good and bad. The good was I got the rear seat to sit back and relax. The bad was going for a snooze. Just as I put my feet up and closed my eyes it was like someone put a set of jumper cables over my heart and hit me with 10,000 volts of electricity. I bolted upright as I was being attached from all directions. The Who followed by Jethro Tull ripped my ear drums right out of my head. How could I forget, I am a captive passenger in Mark B’s Ghetto Blaster on Wheels. See, this guy has a trunk that is really a speaker box the size Jimi Hendrix was using back in the Woodstock day’s. In fact I would not be surprised if Mark T was conceived at that concert under a heavy influence of Jack Daniels and other intoxicating natural grown things . He is a throwback to that era. In fact sometimes he looks like somebody just tossed him overboard, period. Yet, he always lands on his feet and gets back up with this grin from ear to ear. Always cheerful, always helpful and always grinning. Truley a unique addition to the world of NSH characters.

    There was only five members for this hike including what I thought was a new member. Actually, the so called new member had belonged about as long as I have, two years. It is just she did not know anyone and did not know how she would fit in with the A,B,C or D hike format. So she finally decided D might be short for Dickheads and thought she would fit in! I know, crazy assumption she made but this is what she actually told me. It reminds me of what Billy Shakespeare wrote in his hit novel, Hamlet, “We know what we are, but know not what we can be”. Can you see the semblance? By the way, do not expect perfection from my views. If you wish to read perfection read resumes.

    Once we got going on the trail with my ears still ringing from the Ghetto Blaster On Wheels Magical Mystery Tour we came to our first obstacle. A river. Yes, just a river. Normally this would not be an issue if this was a NSH A, B or C hike, we would just go around. With D hikers this means you strip down to your birthday suite and put your cloths into plastic bags before wadding across the freezing water. Fortunately, Big Bird was not the CD or even on this hike. Otherwise, he would have lead us across the river and we would have frozen our Willie’s off. Today’s CD, Mark T, open his eyes. Looked around and saw a bridge. How original, D hikers using a bridge to cross the river to the other side. I hope Big Bird is reading this because using the bridge is a lot more enjoyable.

    That reminds me. Where did the acronym ‘CD’ for leaders of NSH hikes come from? I mean, if you say it too quickly it sounds like VD. If you do not hear it right it sounds like our leader has VD. Is it no wonder not many women sign up to lead NSH hikes? How would you like to be known as the NSH leader with VD? I know, your head space has to be in a dense fog to visualise these kind of events but I was still recovering from Roger Daltrey screaming ‘Who Are You’ with Pete Townsend playing; I know what you’re thinking but I am not going there with Pete on this blog; his guitar and Entwistle on bass while the king of bangers, Keith Moon on drums. In real live I think Keith Moon was a wanabe Ginger Baker, if you can remember another British group, The Cream? Anyways, the point I am making was my head was still spinning.

    Now remember I mentioned the new NSH member joining the D hike because she thought D meant Dickheads? The old story the ‘apple does not fall far from the tree’ plays out here. We just crossed the river and were snow shoeing along all in one flat wide open line. CD Mark T was breaking trail followed by new member Joe, then myself and Rambling Bull Marek. I was trying to keep my eyes looking straight ahead so it did not appear that I was staring at Joe’s butt and I could see a tree. This was not just an ordinary tree. This tree was lying across our path about 5 feet 6 inches off the ground. CD Mark T duct under the tree and I watch in disbelief as Joe, 5 foot 7, walks straight into the tree with a SMACK on the noggin. Ouch, oh man that had to hurt. That was my first thought. My second thought was now we really know who the dickhead title really belongs to! Now, you think I am being rather hard on this new member but there is more to this story so keep reading.

    After offering some Aspirin, which is a must for me to carry, she declined. Joe packed some snow on her forehead and then like a real D hiker kept marching on without ever complaining again. If that had been me everyone would never hear the end of it, and that is the honest truth. Not only did she continue on but she walked right over Mark T with her snow shoes and picked up the pace while breaking trail. Even Mark T’s dog, Frank, looked on in disbelief. Who was this crazed lunatic?

    Mentioning Frank, reminds me if you ever follow this dog and watch closely he has a unique walk. If you watch very closely his left paw moves forward at the same time as his left foot. Then the right paw steps forward followed by the right foot. You would think the dog would fall over with this imbalance, but it works for Frank. Did I say the first two hours was 7 km long on a reasonably flat stretch of snow and trees? It is like that stretch from the parking lot up to the trail head of Harvey. Bowering.

    The two leaders for the day, Mark T and Rambling Bull, had their GPS going and were constantly checking maps, reference points, coordinates and generally looking around with their eyes closed. Finally they stopped and looked at each other and said together, ” I think we turn up there”. Whatever, it worked for me. Behind us trailed Mark B on skies crawling along on crunchy snow. It had to be a pain in his butt slogging along alone and going nowhere. When he caught up you could hear him talking to nobody in particular asking himself ” where did my broad mind and narrow waist trade places”. Very sobering moment for Mark B. I tried cheering him up by saying it was okay. “If you think things were to improve with age, attend your class reunion.” He smiled and took it the right way!

    Our VD/CD broke trail grinding it uphill for awhile. Not much time went by and The new kid, French Canadian North Shore Joe zoomed by him and took charge. Yea, somebody kicking Mark T’s butt going uphill. We were all stunned. Maybe she is not a Dickhead but rather an Iron horse. As it is D hikes are not known for their long leisurely breaks. This hike was like what break? Every time the ‘boy’s’ stopped French Canadian North Shore Joe took over the lead and pushed ahead. I would make a feeble attempt to take charge just so I could try and slow the pace. Two hours of this kind of rapid push took us up to the alpine area. Mark B was long forgotten behind us.

    Alpine time is my calling. Even French Canadian North Shore Joe was going to have to take a back seat. With a ringing sound of The Who, ‘Who are You’, finally being replaced with Ian Anderson playing his flute and singing Aqualung I was feeling relaxed and juiced at the same time. The lyrics kind of tied a lot of things together. The opening song to Aqualung is about a homeless tramp who is a little scary. Yet, what is all said you can visualise a slightly romanticized picture of this person who is homeless but yet free spirit, who either won’t or can’t join in society’s prescribed format. Hmmmm, D hikers! Can you remember the opening lyrics? “Sitting on a park bench, eyeing little girls with bad intent. Snot running down his nose, greasy fingers smearing shabby cloths. Hey Aqualung”. Great stuff. You would think Ian who was into Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony could write such stuff was really thinking about some NSH? Maybe D hikers? You never know.

    As you can see my head space was totally focused. So focused I just kept marching ahead not paying attention to anything but my thoughts and climbing higher. New girl just fell in behind me and followed while the ‘boy’s’ held back checking all their navigational tools. Finally I stopped and took a look around. Nobody. Nobody was behind me, not even unbalanced Frank or French Canadian North Shore Joe. I decided to rest and change my shirt before I got into the summit area and the cold wind hit me. Changed, chow down an apple and waited. After waiting a little longer it seemed something was not right. I made a U turn and retraced my tracks. Hmm, I came to a Y in the snow. I had gone up while the rest had made a trail that went along side of the mountain. I put the after burners on and moved as quickly as I could to see if I could catch up to the rest of the team. Darkness was not far off. My head was now very clear. No more sounds of The Who or Jethro Tull. Just heard my snow shoes crunching the snow. Not having to break trail I made up some distance but was still surprised when I came upon the group going up the last stretch. With my half frozen face I pull over a balaclava and ran up the last ‘bump’ to reach the summit with our group. Everyone looked cold standing around a similar looking communication tower sitting on top of Hat Mountain. The tower looks like something left over from the nuclear missile crises.

    Rambling Bull’s hands were cold. He wanted to strip down and put dry cloths on but he was having trouble with the lack of coordination between his fingers and his jacket zippers. I was off. Not sticking around with Bulls struggle to change. Mark T was gone. French Canadian North Shore Joe was certainly not sticking around either. Rambling Bull quickly became frustrating Ragging bull on top off Chawanten Peak. Maybe if Mark B ever shows up on skies he can pitch in stripping Ragging Bull. Not me.

    All made it back down to the parking lot within about 10 to 11 hours. Everyone waited for each other except for Ragging Bull. We Knew he was coming because we could hear him off in the distance charging through the bushes like a mad wild moose in heat. We met up with Mark B on the way down and he probably got within half hour of the summit. He had ditched his boards and resorted to trying to catch up on his snow shoes. All the while he was still smiling. Something’s never change.

    Everyone had smiles. Everyone was tired, even French Canadian North Shore Joe. Everyone was cold. Nobody seemed to have been a dickhead, just a little, except for Frech canadian north Shore Joe and her banged up head. Well done Mark T…..oh yea, check out that walk your dog has.

    On closing while driving home I got pulled over by a cop. He came up to my open window and said “Papers”…So I said “scissors…I win”! Sore loser, he made me get out of my truck and do a bunch of tests.

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