Adventures of Tacocat on Haida Gwaii - Journey to a Snowy Sleeping Beauty
By Kaela Neil
This is the third in a series of the adventures of Tacocat the Racecar, a pseudonym created by Austin, along with his artfully crafted cross-stitch car decoration to go along with it. A bunch of bumbling, easily excitable, semester students purchased the car as a way to explore the islands of Haida Gwaii.
This third adventure occurred when the on and off rain casually turned to snow in some areas during the November chill. Which place? The magnificent Sleeping Beauty mountain. We had climbed the mountain previously with our class, looking at the different biogeoclimatic zones of the mountain (exciting I know), as well as another time, when the top wasn’t covered in clouds and we got a view. Both were fantastical experiences and a good workout. An easy enough location, the road to the mountain is straight off the end of Queen Charlotte town, following the signs on an old logging road up to the trail head (http://www.gohaidagwaii.ca/directory/detail/sleeping-beauty-trail).
This adventure was particularly exciting. As semester students from all over Canada, quite a few of us were used to snow everywhere by this time of year. Since the snow wasn’t interested in landing in Queen Charlotte, we were going to go chase it up a mountain. After a week of staring at the enticing white beauty of the mountain from the base land of Queen Charlotte town, we snatched tacocat and began the journey up to the trail head. Most of the length of the road was clear, minus the necessary potholes, until the last quarter of the road. It was full slush and muddy snow. Nice, our first interaction with snow. Thanks to tacocat’s superb traction we managed to make it to the parking lot safe and sound. After a few reverses and starts to make sure we had a getaway path out of the snow (this car did not have winter tires), we head up the mountain. I foolishly started with all my layers on, and about 10 minutes into the hike had stripped down to a long sleeves and leggings - others were smarter. The path up was mostly cleared, some snowy patches and wet areas, until about 3/4 of the way up. Until then we enjoyed the view of snow from off the path, at this point we began trudging through it. Quite a different scene from green lush land to a white forest. Thankfully the tree markers helped us keep on track until the top of ridge. The ridge was beautiful! It was snow! We found it!
From here the path goes into a meadow/bowl before heading to the peak. Instead of swimming through the snow in the meadow (no snow shoes), we decided to head up the ridge and go around the bowl. It was a good idea, until there was cliff on one side and a slippery snowy slope on the other. I might be exaggerating a tad, but being scared of heights, that is what it felt like. After the initial upwards movement along the ridge, it leveled out and we were able to walk pretty level along the ridge. Our plan was to go to the top, however it began to get cloudy. The clouds were mainly at the top and below us, so basically all around us. Therefore, instead of heading up to the top, we decided to roll/slide/fall down the hill into the bowl. A great load of fun. Made me feel like a kid again (who am I kidding, I’m still a kid). Once at the bottom, we clambered through the snow to the trail back home. At this point our legs, hands, and noses were frozen. So it was as quick as a scurry we could manage in hip deep snow out of the bowl. On the way down, half running, I managed to de-frost my legs and stay relatively warm (couldn’t help being wet). Back to Tacocat we went, to the warmth and welcome of her sweet bonnet, and back home for some hot chocolate and soup. What a great adventure.
Thanks for reading!