Bill and Tim's Excellent Adventure

Sit down, grab a coffee.  This write-up turned out to be more of an epic than I expected.

Sometime during the week Tim tells me that Craig’s planned a Vancouver 100 training run to cover the route from the new start of the Knee Knacker (KKNSTR) to Cleveland Dam.  Apart from the training benefits, there are two main goals for this run: 1) familiarize ourselves with the new KKNSTR start (or the Vancouver 100 ½ way point, if you like); 2) check out the snow conditions on the top of Black and Hollyburn Mountains.  “Sounds like a great idea”, says I.  “As long as I can work out the kid arrangements, count me in.  Where do we meet and when?”  “We’re to meet at 7 am at Cleveland Dam Saturday morning and car pool it to the start.”  Huh?  7 am?  What kind of sick person would plan a training run for 7 am?  Tim, being the astute fellow that he is, manages to scrounge us up an extra ½ hour of sleep by arranging to have his amazingly accommodating wife Maureen drop us off at 7:30 at the start.  We’ll meet everyone else there. 

6 am.  Game day.  Get up.  Check e-mail.  Craig’s sent a message at 10:40 pm Friday night informing us that he’s just going to drive up to Cypress and run from that point towards Black Mountain.  Mike Wardas, who was also supposed to be joining us, has also bailed.  This means it’s just going to be Tim and myself running up Black from the KKNSTR start but, more significantly, WE DIDN’T HAVE TO GET UP AT 6 AM!!  In the Queen’s best accent now … “We are not amused!”  Too late.  Might was well go through with it now. 

7:30 (ish).  Maureen drops us off at the start.  It’s raining very lightly but seems relatively warm.  We’re off.  Tim did this section before (with all of the requisite wrong turns) so route finding is fairly straight forward.  We both feel overdressed as it’s really quite muggy.  Glad I got to see this section as it would have been very difficult to find during the Vancouver 100 if that was my first exposure to it. 

A little under 1.5 hours gets us to the top of Eagle Bluffs.  It seems most of the mist and rain was down on the lower slopes of the mountain as it’s starting to clear a bit and the rain stopped somewhere before the bottom of the scree slopes.  No snow yet but we expect to hit it soon. 

We do.  Lot’s of it.  Four to five feet of the white stuff still up there slowed our progress significantly and made route finding tricky but we did manage to make our way through to the top of the chairlift via Cabin Lake as intended.  Based on the footprints (or lack thereof) in the snow nobody else has been up there recently.  You definitely wouldn’t want to be doing this section on your own right now.  The combination of two sets of eyes and pretty good familiarity with what direction we should be going when made it a lot more do-able.  Though there was lots of snow on this section, it was relatively easy to travel on and not particularly treacherous.  For what it’s worth, I’d say there’s less snow up there now than there was on KKNSTR race day for “The Year of the Snow”. 

Heading down the ski run from Black Mountain into a strong headwind, neither of us feels overdressed anymore.  About half way down, we finally run into the local Press who film and interview us for the local news … Okay.  It was Craig with a hand-held video camera but it kind of felt like an interview. 

After a short interlude, we head off down the run towards the Cypress Bowl parking lot and start doing the math.  We calculate the Craig must have started his ascent up Black Mountain around 9 am.  If you recall back at the beginning of this epic, it was he who had organized the original meeting time of 7 am yet he, himself, doesn’t actually start his run until 9 am.  Nice.  This will not be forgotten. 

In the parking lot, we run into Rob MacDonald.  He waited at 7 am at Cleveland Dam for the car pool to the start but, when nobody showed, decided to do an out-and-back from Cleveland.  Doh!  He was still heading further onwards (up Black Mountain) so he was really putting in a long run.  Sounds like he’s been getting in lots of training so he should be looking at a really good Vancouver 100 km. 

After a very lengthy chat and bottle refill, Tim and I begin the last leg from Cypress to the Dam.  During the “Year of the Snow” KKNSTR, I found this to be the toughest section.  We weren’t disappointed.  Tim punches a hole in the snow with his leg saying, “Watch out for that …”  Too late!  I punch a hole through the snow.  Being the quick learners that we are, we only repeated this five or six more times each before realizing the rule “STAY AWAY FROM THE TREES AND FALLEN LOGS.”  We mutually decided that this would be a good time to waive the long-standing training rule of owing the witnesses a beer for each wipe out you take.  I don’t think there’s enough beer brewed locally anyway. 

There were also some pretty treacherous creek crossings in this section.  The problem was that the creeks were typically 20 feet down mostly vertical snow banks and, in one case in particular where there was no bridge, involved first leaping across to a mid-stream boulder (there was a snow bridge to it but, with the water clearly running underneath it, neither of us felt like testing it’s weight threshold), and then leaping from the boulder to a rather slick-looking log on the other side of a rather fast-flowing creek.  Screwing up here would have been costly.  This will be “fun” during the Vancouver 100.  At any rate, we eventually made it to the Hollyburn high point and readied ourselves for the easy decent. 

Problem is, things tend to look a bit different with 4 feet of snow on them than without.  Finding the correct route down to the Upper Warming Hut proved to be a little trickier than expected and involved a couple of short turns on incorrect trails and finally taking a trail that just “felt right” as we hadn’t seen any BP markers for awhile.  Fortunately, we were right and found the Warming Hut relatively quickly. 

Route-finding issues behind us, the return trip from there was relatively uneventful.  Ran into a couple with there dog and a baby strapped to the woman’s chest.  They asked where we’d come from to which they responded … “Oh!  We didn’t know you could get to Horseshoe Bay from here.  How long would that take?”  To which we responded: “Don’t even think about it.”  Snow pretty much ran out just before the top of the descent after the Ranger Cabin just above the start of the Chute.  Ran into a couple of lady hikers there who were wondering if they’d be able to make it to Eagle Bluffs in three hours (they’d taken 2 hours to get from Millstream Rd. to that point).  Given that it had taken us about three hours running from the Bluffs, we suggested that they might want to consider Cypress Bowl their target and even that via the road from the X-Country Ski area due to the treacherous nature of the section from Hollyburn to Cypress.  It felt like we convinced them. 

Met Maureen back at Cleveland Dam around noon.  We’d estimated about 3 ½ hours for this section (Tim ran it during last year’s KKNSTR in just under 3 and I typically run it in just over 3).  Actual time was 4 ½ hours.   Adjust your Vancouver 100 estimates accordingly. 

Bill out.


Ean Jackson's picture

Awesome Adventure!

Hey Bill,

'Great story...wish I was there with you...it's tough being a mascot rather than a runner.

I was chatting with Craig on Saturday night and he mentioned he snowshoed in to the bluffs.  Jeez, I packed my snowshoes away last weekend when it was hot enough to fry an egg on the hood of my car.  It's hard to imagine that much snow still up there!

Congrats to you and Tim for breaking the trail!


I can't wait

Hey Bill and everyone involved in the Vancouver 100


After reading this report, June 3rd can't come soon enough.  Sounds like the "run" will be a blast!  Anybody up for a mid-run snowball fight?


There was some talk of the runners and race crews getting together before the run... has anyone heard anything about this?


Catch you all in 11 days!



Craig Moore's picture

check with Mike Wardas

Hi Geoff

I'm thinking all fun and no play makes for a boring CFA event ... but please don't get too lost.  Check with Mike Wardas about the pre-run chat.  I'm not sure what he has organized so far but there have been others interested.

Sibylle's picture

Crashing through the snow and finding your way

What an adventure....Thanks for sharing this with us.  I saw Craig's video/interview Saturday night, definetely a lot of snow left.

Glad I am not the only one who feels Black Mtn is difficult to navigate (I have a very good sense of directions and am very good in following the orange BP markers ;-)

I recall a fateful early summer day when Pat and I where training for Kneeknackerr and wanted to get Black Mountain out of the way...We didn't listen to anybody who told us to stay away from Black Mountain until late in June.  I had done Black Mtn once before, Pat was completely unfamiliar with the area.  We hit snow just after the Bluffs and circled the mudflats (under a few meters of snow) for what seemed hours.  Most BP markers were buried under the white stuff and the marker at Cabin Lake had been taken out for the winter that year.  We eventually made it to Cypress Bowl and instead of staying on the road to Hollyburn we followed the BP over the same treacherous part that you encountered.  What takes me usually 30min (from Cypress Bowl to the x-country slope up Hollyburn) was a tiring scramble over snow cornices and rushing creeks (all bridges were out) and fallen trees.  When we finally came to the x-country area, we couldn't find any BP markers and thought we were lost again.  We eventually found the warming hut and opted to continue to my home near Cleveland Dam opposed to hitching a ride from the parking lot.  Total travel time was 8:30h...Luckily we had enough water and food on us and the sun was shining.
Craig Moore's picture

it was quiet and full of snow at 9:00 am ...

thanks for the report Bill.  For the record, it was Mike's suggestion to do the run, mine to meet at 7:00 am at CD, and Mike's idea to invite Rob.  Then MW did the big bail due to his honey returning home from a long trip much to my disappointment (no I wasn't disappointed that Melissa came home). You're all allowed to give Mike a very hard time.  Mike, if you're listening, the best part is that we got to do the run (and me the snowshoe) so that's one more big workout for us and one less for you.

FYI, going it alone was fine because I know the route very well and because I could see most of the markers around my ankles.  The Bill and Tim footprints helped as well of course.  It was slow in spots as I searched for the very much winding route through the trees but on the way back it was a breeze following my own snowshoe tracks.  It was great fun being on top of Black Mtn alone and having no mud to negotiate. 

I suspect for the Vancouver 100 you'll find yourself punching through the snow a lot more on Black than we did today.  It's likely to be tiring and treacherous.  I recommend pairing up with someone during the run for the section from Hollyburn to Horseshoe Bay and back. And because it's a CFA event, it's no holds barred.  Bring your snowshoes, your poles, your crampons, bring whatever you like to make the day enjoyable. And if you see Mike, feel free to ask him how long he was lost on Black Mountain with Randy in 2000 when they did this run.

For anyone else still wanting to sign up, I am accepting 'custom' applications now only.  All the 100k people are in that are going to be in.  No late sign ups please but shorter distances are welcome.  Feel free to pace someone or just come as a group to do a partial.  There will also be a picnic at Cleveland Dam between about 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm on Saturday afternoon ... soup and burgers for the runners and whatever else people decide to treat you with.

OK maybe I had better things to do besides get up at 6am!

Seriously though I really wanted to be there.  I was the one that suggested it wasn't I?

Truth be told I am a little apprehensive about the turnaround at Horeshoe bay, not having done the new KK start.  Hopefully Tim and Bill will have blazed an obvious trail for us to follow!

Sorry Rob for getting you to show up and I wasn't there, I'm sure you'll make feel that pain soon enough!

Can anyone give me a lift to the start Sat am?  I live near the Holiday Inn off of the Second Narrows bridge (Exit 22).  That would keep me in good stead with my honey!

See y'all Saturday, hey Tim I hope you've started your taper! 

PS Thanks for a great story Bill! 


Cheers, Adventure Mike

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