The easy way to reach Little Douglas Lake is taking the first exit after the Toll Booth, but instead I decided to spend those $20 on my way back in a Japanese restaurant in Chilliwack. I started my x-country/snowshoe expedition on Falls Lake Exit.
Once again I had the opportunity to meet a small party from the Chilliwack Outdoor Club. His leader is very similar to the one from the Xtreme Picnic Team Group. Both leaders are quite experienced and able to monitor and take good care of their peers.
Today they were heading to Zoa Peak, very easy to reach in winter time. In the picture you can see the ridge towards Zoa Peak. The ridge can be reach in less than an hour
Falls Lake Junction. Go left to reach the ridge on the pipeline
In my case I keep x-country on the service road. I don't know today, but until a few years ago it was used by SUVs to skip the Toll Booth. As far I am concerned you shouldn't be driving on this road, this is the maintenance road for the Westcoast Energy Pipeline.
The same rule apply for ATVs but I don't know about snowmobiles.
I took a quick break and I turned around to have some views of Thar Peak. Located at the east end of Zopkios Ridge, Thar is outside the Needle peak pluton and is made of some skanky old weathered diorite. Thar (technically pronounced "tar", but everyone says "Thar") is a yak-cow hybrid
Thar Peak - Westcoast Pipeline on the left
Almost on the top of the pass I have some views of a large bowl like natural gulch. A gulch is a deep V-shaped valley formed by erosion. It may contain a small stream or dry creek bed and is usually larger in size than a gully. Occasionally, sudden intense rainfall may produce flash floods in the area of the gulch.
On the other side I have views of the upper Coldwater Forest Service Road, I almost made the mistake of descending using the pipeline track.
On August 7, 2000 a rupture ocurred on this pipeline near the Zopkios rest stop at Exit 217 (Falls Lake is exit 221). Several vehicles at the rest stop were damaged as a result of thrown debris from the explosion. There were no injuries. The Coquihalla Highway was closed to traffic for 3 ½ hours following the rupture.
This is another reason why no traffic is allowed in this area, a happy redneck (either driving a truck, ATV or snowmobile) may drive over the pipeline causing a rupture.
Going downhill using the service road
On the road I have views of Zum, Vicuna and Guanaco Peaks. Vicuna is one of the highest peaks in the Anderson River Group (2126 m - 6975 ft), the only drawback for Vancouver-area based climbers is that the quickest access is up the Coldwater Road which is on the "wrong" side of the Coquihalla tollbooth.
Zum Peak, Vicuna Peak and Guanaco Peak
Guanaco is a less appealing peak to the climber. It is just slightly higher than Vicuna and not as rugged, and there are more trees and bushes. Still, it forms a beautiful saddle with Vicuna which is highly visible from the Yak-Needle area.
Finally I arrived to the Zum Peak Campsite, I was less than 2 kms away from my destination. In summer, is a 8km drive and then a 90 minutes hike to the lake
Zum Peak, before the bridge turn left
Time for snowshoeing. With less than one kilometer to go I was unable to cross the bridge. For a few moments I thought in using my rope but I was tired and it was almost 3 p.m. "The lake has no place to go" were my thoughts
With mixed feelings I decided it was time to come back, slowly the cloudy day changed to a sunny afternoon, "how lucky I am of being here" were my final thoughts for the day
01 49.6102237701416 -121.053779125214 Elev:1187m Parking Lot
02 49.6126174926758 -121.065063476563 Elev:1239m Close to Falls Lake Trailhead
03 49.6221666410566 -121.056749923155 Elev:1400m
04 49.6282267570496 -121.057405471802 Elev:1400m Dry Gulch
05 49.6318101882935 -121.058843135834 Elev:1395m
06 49.6403288841248 -121.055238246918 Elev:1159m
07 49.6426333207638 -121.059799930081 Elev:1169m
08 49.6447491645813 -121.068112850189 Elev:1177m
09 49.6431579589844 -121.077987670898 Elev:1203m
10 49.6405792236328 -121.092514038086 Elev:1226m Before Bridge go left
11 49.6371768694371 -121.097384300083 Elev:1251m Bridge
12 49.6316333301366 -121.106799943373 ELev:1304m Little Douglas Lake
Roundtrip length: 21 km (13.12 miles)
Time: 8.5 hours
Total Elevation gain : 504 meters (1653 ft)
Driving distance from Vancouver: 200 kilometers / 125 miles (2.5 hours)