January 24, 2016
Coquihalla Pass, BC
A lot of my trip ideas came from simply looking at the topographic maps and Mt. Henning isn’t an exception. This lowly forested bump appeared easily accessible via some logging roads/clear cuts but a mere Google search didn’t return much useful information. In fact, it’s a place heavily used by snowmobiles and thus, largely ignored by the hiking/skiing community. I have to say that I hate sharing my trip with hordes of snowmobiles for many reasons (noise, smell and risks for a dangerous crush) but from a different perspective, the snowmobiles would do me a huge favour by packing down the trail. That’s particularly what I was looking for as the recent “Pineapple Express” had created some horrible trail-breaking conditions.
The weather forecast was not looking overly promising but it’d be a good day to take my parents out for a hike nonetheless. The drive up Coquihalla Highway went uneventful in some light flurries but we got confused as where exactly to park. We exited the highway at Britton Creek rest area and the correct parking lot was a minute or so beyond the first right turn towards Coquihalla Lakes. The trail was well groomed and the parking lot was free for non-snowmobile users. Snowshoes on and up we went. The trail was quite steep for a logging road standard and fairly sustained, but on the other hand we didn’t get passed by that many snowmobiles. Probably only 20-30 of them and that’s nothing comparing to what I just experienced the day before on Brandywine FSR…
After what seemed like a long while the grade finally eased off and we arrived at a broad pass. We took the left turn upon reaching a junction and passed by a snowmobilers’ cabin. We didn’t bother to check it out and there’s still a bit of descending for the next few hundred meters along the now narrower road. At one reasonable place we left the road and ascended steeply up the open slope to our left. Thankfully the snowmobilers had already packed down the tracks for us otherwise the trail-breaking could be very arduous.
There’s no sign of improvement in the weather as we followed the final undulating ridge towards the summit. The ridge felt longer than appeared and we had to break our own trail for the final section as the other folks didn’t venture to the true summit. Thankfully it was windy up there and we took a lengthy break.
Eventually it’s time to get going again. We retraced our tracks down along the ridge and then easily plunged down the big slope beside the snowmobile tracks. It was fast and fun even though the powder was heavy and wet. Back to the road we removed the ‘shoes and the rest of the return was uneventful.
The trip turned out to be a wee bit longer than I was expecting but that’s good as we got more work-out. I have to say it wasn’t as bad as I thought (speaking the snowmobiles). I actually felt it’s a good hiking objective and on a clear day I’m sure there’ll be some nice views from the semi-open summit area.