This past weekend, a group of us ran Hanes Valley; it was my first time in the back country. How I could have lived in BC almost all my life and not known this hidden gem was literally right in my backyard…
We started at 8 am, from Lynn Headwaters: our plan was to head to Norvan falls, and into the back country of Hanes Valley, Grouse and then back to Lynn via a route to be determined. For the first hour or so, the trails were relatively straightforward but soon enough the trail grew increasingly technical.
It was a glorious morning for a trail run, and shafts of sunlight filtered through the canopy of trees, casting shadow and light on the trails as we ran. Content.
David was behind me, carrying his on his go – pro, (unbeknownst to any of us trying to film us). Alas Susan and Terry and John had gone on a tear off ahead, and I was trotting happily along careful as not to sustain another injury (I manage to injure – semi injure myself nearly every trail run and I have the scars to prove it). Apparently disappearing out of view of the go – pro was not conducive to filming. Soon, we came to Third debris chute and this was where the trail became a little dicier.
Dry creek beds, up and down uneven terrain, and slippery rocks you could go down on if you weren’t careful.
Soon enough, we approached the suspension bridge at Norvan falls. I had seen the bridge before in my jaunts to Norvan, but never crossed it. Terry jumped up and down on the bridge as I was trying to cross. I shrieked at him to stop before I would cross the bridge. Heights make me nervous?
Still more technical, root covered trails to cover before we could reach the second creek. We ran (okay I slid, tiptoed gingerly and cursed down some more technical terrain) to hit our second creek crossing. After dipping our shoes (me) into the creek I surveyed the giant log with some trepidation. I wanted to wade across the creek but unfortunately the log it was. My friends were waiting patiently on the other side. I was afraid I might tip over and end up in the creek. Didn’t happen.
I did, however fill up at the creeks, as I had been assured that the water was safe. I guess there was only one way to find out. I had chosen to carry along a handheld along with my hydration pack. I managed to drink two and half handhelds worth of water and finished most of what was in my 1 litre plus hydration pack at the end.
Somewhere along the way, hikers and dog walkers grew sparse, and the signs declared we were now in back country. At one point we had to stop and try to determine which way the trail went. Ignorance is bliss and I happily followed.
And then, came our reward. For me, trail running has always come down to the lure of the mountains and Hanes Valley did not disappoint.
Standing at the bottom of Hanes Valley and surveying the mountains before me, I was greeted by lush green, slate rock and even patches of snow.
I will never forget how I felt when I saw Hanes Valley open up before me for the first time. Surrounded by the valley, I felt so small and yet my heart was so full. Stunned, awed, unbelievable. Words can’t fully convey the beauty of such a place. So grateful that my legs could carry me to such places. I fell in love with trail running and the mountains all over again.
We took advantage of the view-point at the bottom of Hanes Valley, before beginning the scramble up rocks, large boulders. Some of us were more nimble than others (hint: it was not me). I was hunched over, using my hands to scramble and mumbling about how my midget legs were a disadvantage. Advantage, being hunched over so I didn’t see how far I had to fall. Oh, well if I died, at least I would die in a place as close to heaven on earth as I have ever run in.
Catching a bit of shade part way up the rock scramble was bliss as the climb was exposed and the sun was often right on our backs. We took a break partway up the scramble and admired the views of Hanes Valley. When I rose, the rocks shifted, I freaked out, and some not so nice words came out of my mouth. Also, I’m sure the sunscreen I had slathered on earlier that morning had long since melted and I was a sweaty icky mess. (but a relatively happy mess).
Reaching the top of the scramble, I thought, hooray, no more climbing but nooo. There was more climbing. And then, came the chains – bolted down the middle of slate rock. I looked to the left and the right. I used the chains to climb one slate rock but then wedged myself to a crevice to the left, and climbed sans chains.
Dusty, rocky trails greeted us as we took the Goat mountain trail towards Grouse ( Crown mountain would be saved for another day) and the Lodge. We stood under a tent and passed around bottles of cold coke which had never tasted so good.
I think we formed part of the tourist attraction at that point. I was covered in dust and dirt from head to toe.
And then came the fun part. We ran Mountain Highway (dusty wide gravelly roads) and took walk breaks as needed. Re – joining the mountain biking trails – we took Seventh Secret, Crinkum Crankum, Lepard and Lower Griffen back to Lynn.
Normally, the trails yielded downhills I would have loved to practice running on. Let’s just say, I had several “moments” and a mini melt down – walking terrain I would normally run and wanting the run to be over. I was done. I am sure the heat, and not eating enough were factors. My friends coaxed me along: “only 100 meters to go.” I perked up and picked up my legs in a hurry. I descended the last set of stairs and headed down towards the road. I could see the parking lot. Tired, dirty, hungry but oh so worth every minute.
Hanes Valley was spectacular and one of the best trail runs I have done to date. I can’t wait to explore more back country.