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Christmas Eve snowshoe to Lake Helen Mackenzie
Timestamp Free: 2018.04.20 - 08:40:22
Ranges: North America Ranges / Pacific Cordillera Range / Insular Mountains / Vancouver Island Ranges
  (1 days)     Elevation Gain: 30m
Participants: Lucas Earl, Chris Ferris, Doug Hopwood, Etsegenet Hopwood
Difficulty: 2: Minor route finding
Snowshoe along the summer trail to Lake Helen Mackenzie
Weather: Low clouds to sunny; cold with light snow conditions

Christmas 2015 was the first Christmas I would be spending away from home in Vermont, so I was a little sad to be enduring the green and gray often ubiquitous in the Northwest that time of year. Luckily, I was spending the holiday in Qualicum Beach, so we planned a snowshoe trip to the edge of the Forbidden Plateau, where recent cold weather meant I could get a taste of the usual White Christmas to which I had become accustomed growing up. Good weather also meant we were likely to have good views, which even headed only to Lake Helen Mackenzie would likely make for a nice Christmas Eve outing.

The four of us (my aunt, uncle, cousin and I) all got in the car and headed north, making the turn for the Mount Washington ski area near Comox and stopping briefly to put chains on my Uncle’s Corolla. The road up to the ski area is generally in good condition, but since it’s pretty steep putting chains on is recommended for smaller cars. As we went up and up, we quickly crosses the snow line and were treated to a nice display of plastered white; the cool weather had left the snow in a rare powdery condition and was quite pretty.

We parked at the lot just beyond the main ski area (by the Raven Lodge). Snowshoeing out to the lake is technically fee free, but there are a number of nordic trails that the ski area maintains in the winter adjacent to the road that require a day pass. When we asked about just “passing through” we were told this is technically allowed by “not recommended” as that summer trail to the lake is not marked and that we should buy passes just in case. We ended up doing so, but in retrospect this was not really necessary as the route to the lake becomes fairly clear once you get away...

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