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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Trail Running the Forbidden Plateau Traverse

Making time for Joel and I to adventure together is just as important as our family adventures but those spare days are hard to come by. So when an opportunity presented itself, I quickly got all my ducks in order and planned a surprise adventure for just us. First I had to make sure camp Grandpa was available so the kids had somewhere to go. Then I had to weigh out my trail options based on distance, weather, travel time, logistics, and wow factor. Next was making sure Joel had no commitments on his upcoming days off that I was unaware of without giving away my true intentions. Happy to report it all worked out beautifully.

Our 24 hour adventure was trail running the Plateau Traverse, a 28km route from Paradise Meadows to Wood Mt. Check out Strathcona Prov. Parks Map to see route. With everything all set to go we hit the road Sunday evening and headed to Wood Mt. Ski hill where we spent the night "car" camping.


The biggest obstacle with trail running or hiking a traverse is shuttling either cars or people to the trailheads. Luckily, a friends Mom and her boyfriend were able to pick us up from Wood Mt. and drive us up to Mt. Washington early Monday morning. A big thanks to them for taking the time to help us out. [They ended up hiking the Circlet Lake loop so it was a win win for all!]

Quick trip report info:

We ran/trotted/hiked from Paradise Meadows (trailhead at Raven Lodge on Mt. Washington) to the parking lot of Wood Mt. (what used to be the Old Forbidden Plateau ski hill at the end of Forbidden Plateau Road near Courtenay)


The Plateau Traverse follows the route towards Kwai Lake. Trail and sign to Murray Meadows (just before reaching Kwai Lake) is where traverse begins. 

Strathcona Prov. Park signs state the trail is no longer maintained but old signs still exist along the route along with signs put up by the Comox District Mountaineering Club.


Trail is still evident, slightly overgrown in some parts, but easy to follow. We did research and informed ourselves about the route ahead of time. We did not use any GPS tracks to follow route but did use some navigating apps on our phones to track our route and collect data as we went. Also played around with a friends inReach device but that was just for fun. Surprisingly, there was cell coverage here and there along the route. 

Distance 28km with 730m of elevation. Our moving time (mostly running) was 4:08 and total time on the trail was about 6 hours. (started at 9:15am and ended at 3:30pm) Trail has a mix of dirt paths, small creek crossings, rock and rooty sections, creek bed trails, and wet muddy meadows to cross. 


Weather was ideal for trail running. High of 17C, cloudy and a chance of afternoon showers. A perfect trail to take on when the weather does not allow for scenic hikes on mountains. 

Adventure Report:

Before we even started the run I was experiencing some serious nerves. What is is about thru hikes and traverses that gets me all worked up? The feeling of being left at a trail and having to get myself back to the safety and security of the car completely overwhelms me. Within minutes of running it passes, thankfully. 


The run starts off on boardwalk and transitions to a dirt path as we made our way along Battleship Lake and past Lake Helen MacKenzie. The roots and rock begin to take over the path and soon we are trotting along, huffing and puffing our way to the Murray meadows connector trail. 


No trail run is complete without challenges. Joel spraining his ankle was our first challenge. Thankfully some meds and a quick taping of the ankle seemed to do the trick. Our pace slowed from here on out but we were in no hurry. Stopping was not really an option due to the bugs. Murray Meadows, as beautiful as it was, makes for a great bug breeding area.


The reprieve from bugs came as the trail took us through a forested area between Panther Lake and Johnson Lake. That gave us an opportunity to refuel and continue our run to McKenzie Meadow and McKenzie Lake. 


What are the odds of spraining your ankle again? Yip...seems Joel has bad luck. That little set back had us hiking for a bit but we were back running in no time. Not much stops my guy :)


Likely the best part of the run was making our way across McKenzie Meadow to check out the campsite at McKenzie Lake. At this point we were still avoiding water and puddles but once your feet get wet, it does not much matter anymore. Lots of laughs as we continued to slosh our way back out. 




From McKenzie Lake to Wood Mt. parking lot is 11km. Things went well for the next 4km as we passed Drabble Lakes and it was about here when things started to take a toll. I could tell Joel's ankle was bothering him based on the way he was running. Blisters were starting to cause me discomfort so a quick blister busting treatment was required. 


The afternoon rain that was in the forecast did indeed begin and things were suddenly not so fun anymore. We trotted along for about another 3km and on the final descent from the Mt. Becher connector trail to the parking lot we hiked because running was too painful. The rocky rough trail down was not well liked by Joel's ankle, our knees, or my blisters. But we made it and even through all the discomfort in the final km's we ended with smiles on our faces and had the most amazing time sharing it all with each other. 



What we packed:

We each had our own 2L hydration bag and pack, raincoats, tech type long sleeve shirt and t-shirt, running shorts of our choice, hat or buff, emergency blanket, headlamp, cell phone, trail running shoes, and one of us had the proper kind of running socks. May explain why I got blisters...but mine looked cooler! ;)

In our packs - a life straw, water treatment tablets, battery charger, gopro, inReach device, spare batteries for headlamps, pocket knife, lighter, tylonel and ibuprofen, tensor band, medical tape, gauze, bandaids (but not enough. Always check and restock before hand. Whoops) some other basic first aid supplies and a whistle.

Food - cliff bars, shot bloks, chocolate bars, dried fruit, fruit bars, nut bars, peanut butter and honey wrap, and boiled mini potatoes drizzled in butter and salt. 

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