Given the unusual amount of snow, safe backcountry travel has been somewhat limited this summer. My friend Olivia and I were hiking the BCMC one morning earlier in the month, discussing potential trips that would not be influenced by snow or travel time. I had done a bit of research prior to our conversation, and had happened upon a little-known provincial park on the Sunshine Coast. Looking out at Vancouver from the top of Grouse Mountain, tea in hand, we promised that we’d make the trip happen by the end of the month.
I love reading about different trails and treks, and the more I researched Tetrahedron, the more excited I became. Tetrahedron Provincial Park does not allow for any tent camping. Instead, there are four backcountry huts that are lovingly maintained by the Tetrahedron Outdoor Club. I inquired about snow conditions on one outdoor thread, asking if it would be necessary to bring snowshoes. I was quickly advised that while there was snow at the top hut, snowshoes would not be necessary as it was hard-packed.
I packed my gear up on Monday, beyond excited to embark on my first backpacking trek of the Summer (even if it was only going to be one night). I bombarded Olivia and Danielle with little updates I found through continued research, including what appeared to be “the place” to stop for snacks on our way through Sechelt. By Saturday morning, I was giddy. We met at my place, piled our backpacks into the back of Danielle’s SUV, and off we went to the ferry terminal.
Our first stop was a bakery called the Basted Baker, and it did NOT disappoint. We each ordered the ‘hash’, which was a delicious concoction of kale, hashbrowns, mushrooms, tomatoes, guacamole and a poached egg. Fueled up, we hit the road and made it to the trailhead by noon.
The huts are not reservable, so I was a little nervous that we’d be sleeping under the stars, but when we finally pulled up to the parking lot, we realized that would not be an issue. Each hut sleeps 12 people, and we were one of three cars in the lot. Two fellows were embarking on their hike up as we were. One appeared to be a seasoned backpacker, while the other was laughing at his newly-purchased ‘JCrew Outdoor’ clothing choices. They headed up ahead of us and we followed behind.
The weather was overcast at best, and the mist made for an easy and relaxing hike. After 4.5KM of hiking through the forest and along Edwards Lake, we reached Edwards Lake Cabin. You can see on the map that Edwards Lake and Edwards Cabin are rather far apart. Edwards Lake Cabin truly feels like you are in the very heart of the mountainous park.
Upon reaching Edwards Lake Cabin, we had a decision to make. Would we continue on to Mount Steele with our packs and plan to spend the night there? A recent trip report had read that Mount Steele Cabin was “overrun with mice”, and this was enough to convince me that Edwards Lake Cabin was as good a place as any to camp for the night. We explored the hut, hung up our packs, and by 3:00PM, we were back on the trail heading up to Mount Steele.
The trail was muddy and misty. We lost our track a couple of times, but were always able to find the trail markings relatively quickly. We reached the alpine meadows, still snow-covered, by 5:30PM, 1659M above sea level.
We explored the surrounding area, admired the view, and headed inside the cabin to visit with fellow backpackers. The two fellows we had met earlier in the day were there, as were a younger man and two women, who were local to the Sunshine Coast. We chatted with them as they cooked up their dinners, discussing different trails and treks. The man shared with us a story of an abandoned Bible Camp located just outside of Sechelt. He explained that the camp had been abandoned in the 1990s, and everything had been left as if they had been forced out quickly. For example, the tables still had their tablecloths and the lifejackets were still hanging in rows on the dock. “Nature has taken over over the years, but it is pretty cool,” he shared. A lover of ghost stories, I made a mental note to look this up when I got home. (After reading this blog post, I am pretty certain that the man actually hasn’t visited the site in person, and simply read this post as well).
Time getting away on us, we said good-bye to Mt. Steele Cabin and its occupants, and began our trek down the mountain back to Edwards Lake Cabin. We found ourselves veering quite far off-track, but were savvy enough to navigate our way back down to the proper trail and made it down in just over an hour. Having worked up an appetite, we changed out of our sweaty clothes, layered up, and set to work cooking dinner. Great wine, amazing friends, and the satisfaction of a hot meal after hours on end of hiking made for the perfect end to our day.
Having put so much effort into researching trail conditions and expectations for the huts, one would think I was fine with sharing the space with mice. As we settled into our sleeping bags in the loft of the hut, I realized I wasn’t quite as confident with this fact as I was trying to convey. Lucky for me, my girlfriends were understanding and played music until we all fell asleep.
Except, I didn’t fall asleep. 11:00PM, 12:00AM, 1:00AM, I lay wide awake, imagining mice scurrying around us. At 4:15AM, I was relieved to count that I only had 45 minutes until I could justify getting up and starting the day. I didn’t quite make it to 5:00AM, however, without waking my friends up with an “Oh my gosh! What was that noise?!” as a rather loud animal (bird? rat? squirrel? raccoon? We don’t know) shook the ceiling. We were all wide awake, and packed up our gear before calming down with a morning of tea and sunrises from the porch of Edwards Lake Cabin.
We opted not to make breakfast at the cabin and instead voted to head straight back to the vehicle so we could enjoy one more meal at the Basted Baker. Country music playing softly as we tidied ourselves and the hut, we were en route back to the parking lot by 6:30AM.
I would recommend Tetrahedron Provincial Park to anyone who is wanting an authentic hut-camping experience. I already can’t wait to go back here one day, soon.