With just 2 training weekends left before we depart for Mount Kilimanjaro, us Vancouver based trekkers headed out last weekend on what will be our longest training hike before we go. The kick your butt Sandero Diez Vistas in Coquitlam.
Making the decision to do this particular hike was based on a) is it less than an hour’s drive, b) is it long enough like over 10km, and c) is it free of any technical scrambling (we don’t have any technical bits on Kili so why practice it). I made the decision and posted it to our closed Climbing Kilimanjaro Facebook group with an open invitation for company. as has been my practice all spring and summer.
My hubby Lance) and the Carmen brothers (Matty and Scott) were all on board. Seems getting serious about your training two weeks before departure is perfect timing when climbing a mountain … said no one ever!
Funny enough while they were all keen to hike, not all of them fully read the information about the trail. When just 10mins away from the trail I got the question “how long is this hike?” I answered all happy and excited “I think 13kms” (its actually 15km). There was a barely audible “oh” from the back seat. Oops!
Any who, off we went and wow the trail was A LOT of work! You were heading up switch back after switch back for what seemed like a very long time in order to get to the the first of the boasted 10 views (Diez Vistas).
Wish I would have enjoyed this part of the trail a little more, it was so gentle compared to the rest of the harsh incline and decline we came across. (Scott, Matt and Lance)
The incline is getting really fun now. Shortly after this section we were in full blown switch backs with scrambling sections. (Brande)
I was pleased to finally get to the top (or the ridge). The way up was hard work but also really daunting for me. There was some scrambling on the switchbacks in a couple of spots – which in my scared-of-heights-opinion were slick rock faces directly over a chasm drop to the depths of hell! They almost had the power to mess with my mind enough to send me back to the car. However, a little inner voice saying “B if you cant make this little path, you cant climb Kili so get your Nike wearing butt across this thing NOW” helped me push past the fear. How did you like that insight into my brain?
The view is amazing from the top for sure. You are treated to the first look out and its pretty spectacular, then a second and a third .. and that’s where it stops. There are actually only 3 really awesome views to take in. I guess there used to be 10 (Diez Vistas) but the forest has grown so much that the others are now blocked in by the trees. Perhaps a name change to Sandero Tres Vistas is in order?
The view from the second view point ( I think ). We took a 10 min break and had some snacks before pushing on. (Lance and his PB/J sammy)
We followed the ridge line where the path undulated up and down for about an hour and then came even more fun – getting back down. This was knee screaming, find me the gondola, why am I doing this kind of decline and it never seemed to end. Little roots and rocks all over that lovingly catch on the toes of your boots or slip a little when you use them for purchase. We were working hard and our knees felt it. Now this is great training for the 40km we hike over 2 days to get down from the Kili Summit!
It didn’t look like too many people came down the back side (most went up the front, saw the views and went back down the front again) so I kicked off some please-do-not-eat-me-bear calls which the boys quickly picked up and added their own flare to. The teddy bears at the picnic could hear us call out: “Yuuup” (Brande) “Nope” (Lance) “Maybe” (Scotty) and “Whatever” (Matty). Strangely enough each of our words sorta match our personalities. hmmm
All in all we were entertained throughout by either each other (heckling your closest friends is always entertaining) or the path itself which had lots of fun, different stuff to offer to keep your interest on the trail and not your knees or blisters.
A fun log bridge over a mushy creek on the back side of the trail.
Sections of the trail were or had the potential to be really muddy, the Parks board did a great job of putting in these rough wooden walk ways to persevere the ground and keep people on the path.
I had heard that some hikers found it hard to find the trail in spots and with these itty bitty markers I can see why!
We managed to make it from start to finish with no mishaps. Don’t get me wrong though there were some screaming knees, a phone call from one Carmen brother to another asking where the path is, one of us out of water, a wrong turn that added 1 km to the trek, and some moments where we lost but recovered the trail.
Oddly, the funniest moment to me was coming across this sign (the first of a few):
Damage from a recent big storm was obvious in a few spots. Looking up you could see a tree broken in the middle but balancing still on its base.
Yes, if you are wondering, we did keep walking on the trail and while we didn’t stop per se we did slow down enough to find out where and what this “hazardous tree” was all about. I was secretly hoping it was Groot from Guardian’s of the Galaxy all grumpy and wrecking stuff and his friend Chris Pratt was trying to calm him down meanwhile Rocket the Raccoon was chilling waiting out the drama to end. But it wasn’t. Boo!
PS: 8 sleeps (freaking out!)