One of my favourite things about living in Vancouver is the quick and easy access to some amazing backcountry territory. Over the holidays, a group of us heading out to the Tetrahedron Provincial Park for the first time.
The park is located at the end of a logging road outside Sechelt, BC, which is roughly 2 to 3 hours outside Vancouver, including a 50-minute ferry ride.
Day One – Lower parking lot to Batchelor Lake Cabin
Given our late start in the day, we opted for the Batchelor Lake Cabin which is only 3km from the lower parking lot. There was just enough snow to cover the rocks on the trail for the first 1km, up until to the trail splits. Batchelor Lake Cabin is one way, and access to Edwards Lake Cabin, McNair Cabin, and Steele Cabin the other.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough snow yet to completely cover all areas of the forest. Some bush-wacking on skis was involved.
Fortunately, it was cold enough that both Tannis Lake and Batchelor Lake were frozen over. As a result, we could easily glide over the fresh layer of snow on the frozen lakes.
Upon arriving at the cabin, we started a fire and made dinner: palek paneer and dal lentils (packaged, of course; we’re not that fancy). We had the whole cabin to ourselves until about 7PM when a group of five came in from McNair.
The short distance to Batchelor Lake Cabin makes it a good introduction to any newcomers to backcountry skiing, like myself. The cabin is really well kept and spacious.
Day Two – Day trip to Edwards Lake Cabin
Given the spaciousness and relatively low occupancy of Batchelor Lake Cabin, we decided to leave our things at Batchelor and make a small day trip to Mt. Steele. We also decided to use the summer trail instead of the winter trail to save time. There’s a reason it’s called the “summer” trail: too windy and too bare for skiis. We had to carry our skiis and poles through the tight-winding forest for ten or so minutes until we reached the winter trail.
Upon emerging from the forest, we headed East to the top of a ridge and continued for 1km or so more. When we reached a directional sign, we realized we wouldn’t have time to make it to Mt. Steele and back in the short of window of time we had. Instead, we opted to continue to Edwards, which was only 2.7km more.
It was cloudy so the views weren’t spectacular, but the display of large, overhanging icicles on our right made for a neat sight.
At the end of the ridge, we weaved through more forest for a short while until we reached Edwards Lake. Edwards Lake is much bigger than Tannis and Batchelor, but has an oddly spooky vibe about it. At least, that’s how I felt.
The visibility had decreased significantly so we couldn’t cross the lake blindly. We followed in the tracks left in the snow, which led us around the lake, to the other side.
The Edwards Lake Cabin is about 500m from the lake itself so we had some trouble finding it. Many tracks, going off in different directions, had been left in the snow and we weren’t sure which tracks led to the cabin. Luckily, Kamil had brought his GPS and we found the cabin a short while later.
The Edwards Lake Cabin is considerably smaller than Batchelor. It’s location, however, is ideal for those planning on doing multi-day trips in the Park. The cabin is roughly halfway between the parking lot and Mt. Steele, a supposedly lovely backcountry skiing area, and the Mt. Steele Cabin.
We made lunch in the cabin and quickly headed back. I realized I had forgotten my headlamp and if we doddled any longer, we risked returning in the dark.
Considering we knew the way back quite well at this point, and considering many parts of the trek back to Batchelor Lake Cabin were downhill, our return to Batchelor was significantly faster. We reached the Cabin with an hour before dark.
Dinner was Swiss fondue with French baguettes from A Bread Affair (arguably the best bread bakery in Vancouver). Card games ensued.
Day Three – Batchelor Lake Cabin to lower parking lot
Considering we didn’t have a schedule for the Sechelt-Horseshoe Bay ferry, we got up early and cleared out as fast as we .
Crossing Tannis Lake proved difficult since warm running water had melted some of the ice on the lake. A long, large smudge of slush cut the lake in half, making crossing quite impossible. Eventually, we found a small opening, off to the side, which was solid enough for us to ski on.
From there, we booked it down to the parking lot. Our descent was quick since the last 1km was all downhill (no skins = fast fun times). Also, great time for me to practice my turning..
We didn’t see much of the Tetrahedron Provincial Park this trip. Granted, we only had three days and had a late start on Day One.
Also, in late December there isn’t that much snow on the trail yet. I would love to return in a month or so to discover more of the park.
Fingers crossed for nice weather, more snow, and a new adventure!
Until next time,