Upper Hut Day TripAuthor: Larry Soo
Location: 10 minutes north of Squamish BC, along the
BC south coast
It started this way,
----------------------------------------------------------Fri Nov 17 14:08:33 1995 Letter : 7496581 From: Rob Mullen Address : [email protected] Subject : Upper Hut on Sunday Bytes : 468 To: [email protected]----------------------------------------------------------
To be honest, I wasn't exactly keen on accepting this invite. I had done Upper Hut Lake a couple of months ago so the "excitement" wasn't there anymore. Besides, it was only slightly difficult; it was barely do-able in vehicles without lockers. Doing it again in such a short time just didn't appeal to me. Furthermore, the Lionsgaters club has a lot of members. The last club run they had involved 15 vehicles on the tight, rocky Clear Creek trail. The route to Upper Hut is even narrower so I wasn't looking forward to a bottle neck, especially if another vehicle broke down like the last time.
On the other hand, I didn't have anything planned for this weekend and I wanted to go somewhere. So I agreed to meet Rob et al at the Eighties Cafe in North Vancouver at the ungodly hour of 8am.
Arriving at the restaurant, I was pleased to see only a handful of 4x4s (the bush kind, not the yuppy kind) in the parking lot. Even better: after a week of wind and rain, the weather suddenly cleared and blue skies were in abundance.
The group consisted of:
Rob Mullen [offroad list]
One of the benefits of heading up to the Hut lakes is that the highway portion involves the Sea-to-Sky highway which runs north from Vancouver to the Whistler ski resort, along the coastline. As usual, the scenery was fantastic.
Shortly after entering Paradise Valley, a few kilometers north of Squamish, we reached the trail head and aired down. In contrast to my prior summer-time visit, the trail was damp many sections were transformed into shallow streams. The first leg of the trip, which took us to Hut Lake, is generally quite easy with only one slightly difficult portion involving some sharp, rock steps, with a drop-off to its left. We negotiated this section easily and slowly made our way to Hut Lake.
A view of the Tantalus Range during a rare and brief break in the foliage.
While taking a short break at Hut Lake, I decided to climb a small rock face. Last time I was here, I climbed it easily, with only minor rubbing under my transfer case skid plate. This time, however, I couldn't get up the rock, no matter what line I tried. Finally, after coming within an inch of doing body damage (the approach was flanked on either side with trees) I conceded defeat and we started the final leg to Upper Hut Lake.
Aside from frequent sections of sharp, loose rocks and dense brush, there are three man obstacles on the way to Upper Hut.
Obstacle 1 : The Traffic Median from Hell
From the description I used in a prior trip report:
Obstacle 2 : The Rocks of Sharpness
Obstacle 3 : The Trench
The remainder of the trail to Upper Hut was uneventful. Just more branches and bumps. (At some point, between the start of the trailhead and reaching Upper Hut, the rock guards on Yen-Hsen's newly-installed DKW windshield lights were popped-off by some branches.)
By this time (3pm) it was getting quite cold so we spent only a short time at the lake before heading down.
A sure-fire indicator of a good, tough trail is when it's tough going downhill.
This was a good, tough trail.
Doug lead on the way back down and, as he prepared to descend the steep wall into the trench, he had to back up a bit to setup for his line. I thought to myself, "If a guy in a Samurai is having trouble setting up for a line, I'm in deep doo-doo." Before reaching the drop-off into the trench, I had to negotiate a right-hand curve along a rock formation which was severely off-camber to the left. It was butt-pucker time as I considered asking Dennis to hang out of his door to provide some ballast. Every so slowly, we inched our way towards the crest above the trench; gradually, the lean angle lessened.
At the drop-off into the trench, picking a line to avoid the near-vertical drop on the far left was good manners but meant nothing. Jeep-sized vehicles, trying to hug the right side simply slipped off the wet rock face, slid to the left and over the steep ledge.
Each vehicle that went over made a loud bang as it slid leftwards and into the trench. Both Jeeps dragged their bumperettes as they entered the trench. Rob Mullen made a Herculean effort to avoid the left side and put his BJ40 into an extreme lean-angle as he dropped over the edge. After some hard-to-describe contortions, the left-rear of his aluminum-tubbed BJ dragged against the bank so hard that he scraped the checker plating and his rear-mounted spare tire actually pulled a rock out of the bank. Extreme wheeling at its best.
Rob Mullen and his Land Cruiser dropping into the trench and dragging his spare tire against the wall
As we prepared to continue on down the trail, I was surprised to learn that Doug had suffered & repaired a sidewall puncture in his front-left tire. He must be the world's quickest tire-change artist because he couldn't have been out of my sight for more than ten minutes.
Further on down the trail, we noticed that one of Yen-Hsen's bumper-mounted driving lights was broken-off and somehow, somewhere, Rob Mullen mashed his front-right fender. Fortunately, through the miracle of bondo and rust, it was a simple matter to straighten the fender. Neither Jason nor I suffered any damage, although I _think_ I bent my drive-shaft (it seems like it's vibrating but it's so subtle that I can't tell for sure). And Doug's punctured sidewall is no big deal because his Big O tires have a guarantee against _any_ damage (ie: free tire for Doug).
My Lessons Learned [tm] for this trip are:
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