March Magic – SW British Columbia

I remember that my family in Quebec never cared for March. Probably we attended too many poignant funerals during that month. Here on BC’s southwest coast, folks seem to think that because it is now spring, that the weather is warming and the ski season is over. My neighbours are working in their gardens. Actually, it is not warmer. It just seems that way. The days are longer and the sun shines much more than it did in February. The truth is, we have had lots of precipitation this month, and I don’t think the temperature at sea level has yet to rise to double digits. In the hills the snow has not started to melt. As a backcountry skier, I am delighted that the mountain snowpack is still increasing.

The flowers are some of the forest canopy now growing on the forecourt of the Vancouver Art Gallery in the centre of the City. Last Tuesday, after several days of rain, the sky partly cleared, and I headed for the local hills. As the ferry departed Snug Cove, I could see the new snow up in the hills. The images are thumbnails.

An hour after I boarded the ferry, I was skiing up the hikers’ route on Hollyburn Ridge. My ski poles showed there was about 8 inches of fresh snow. A bit of a crust 2″ down easily supported the skis. I was on the top of the ridge in another hour and 20 minutes. The second picture shows a telemark skier about to make his second turn off the Summit of Hollyburn. Up there it was dark, overcast, and snowing vigorously. The cloud and the precip is a local event caused by the sea air flowing up the mountain.

The descent is always faster than climbing, so within a few moments I was out from under the dense cloud and could glimpse Vancouver and the Lions Gate Bridge. To find fresh snow I was making my own tracks through the glades. I was alone in this beautiful forest. Often the sun was shining.

Last pitch - Road - Salish Sea - on Hollyburn RidgeThe tour ends under a major power line just above the road. There are still dark clouds overhead, but a few moments after I started to drive down, I was in the sun. A beautiful spring day.

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