Every good plan … needs a Plan B … or two. The forecast for Wednesday was not looking good, so we moved the trip to Mt. Drabble to Friday. As we were driving south Friday in the rain and cloud, it was clear that the forecast was over-optimistic, and a long drive and a long hike to Mt. Drabble only to be in the clouds was not what we had in mind. So we decided to hike up Mt. Elma instead. Easier driving, easier hiking. That was the new plan.
As we were driving up to Mount Washington, we hit the snow line. It was clear yesterday, but it snowed last night. So what we thought was going to be a late summer trip was now an early winter trip. The trail and bushes were plastered with about 5 cm of wet snow. And it was raining, or maybe it was snowing, it was hard to tell. The hike on the snow covered boardwalks of Paradise Meadows to the Mt. Elma trailhead went quickly. Then the trail goes up steeply and there are a few places where it is quite steep. These were a bit slippery in the snow, but soon we were on to the summit ridge. Which is always very nice, no matter what the weather. It is a sloped meadow with sparse trees. And in our case the fog of being in the clouds. We hiked all the way to the end, where there is a super nice viewpoint. We couldn’t see anything, but it was still super nice. It was like a spring skiing day, without the sun, but still warm, as we ate lunch. Surprisingly, the whisky jack regulars were not there. There were a few quick moments with blue sky above us and when there was a slight gap in the clouds where we could see hints of the mountains around us. Impressive, but nothing that shows up on a photo. We figure we were just below the tops of the clouds. On the trip back down the ridge we watched a pair of grouse. The descent down the hill was harder than going up because now all the snow was melting making the trail very slippery. And the snow in the trees was melting and raining on us. Early spring. For variety, we hiked the rest of the lakes loop going back, and the trail along Helen Mackenzie Lake was wet. Very wet and muddy. When we were back on the boardwalks, they had less snow on them, but they were still slippery. But we made it back to the cars and declared it was a good, successful outing anyway. And we did get to see lots of very nice fall colours. Blueberry bushes instead of tree leaves. 14.0km; 420m elevation gain; 6 hours.
(click on photos to enlarge)