We decided to spend four days at the Phelix Hut. We woke up early for the long drive – about three and a half hours north of Vancouver, past Pemberton, and up a logging road. Luckily this logging road is plowed semi-regularly, and it was in easy driving condition. On the way in I heard on the radio that the temperature at Pemberton was -13c, and of course we were going to be about 1500m higher than that… We were happy to find a vehicle parked at the trail head, since it meant that we would have a broken trail to follow. The first part was along a logging road lined by alder and other trees with a light snow covering, like a sculpture garden. The surface of the snow had vertical crystals (hoar frost) growing on it and glinting in the sun. We passed a huge pile of avalanche debris which had stopped just meters from the road. Maya has new boots (new to her, at least) and they were slowly boring holes into her feet, so we stopped to try and bandage the area up.
After that came the trail through the forest, quite steep, but not too bad, and very well marked. The moon rose and the sun set, but we had lots of light thanks to an almost full moon, clear skies and the reflection from the snow. Finally we left the forest and skied across “Long Lake” to the hut. We met the group of four who had arrived the previous night after a 15 hour epic. We were surprised to find all the windows and curtains completely open and the heaters off, and the hut was freezing cold, no warmer than being outside. We closed up all the windows and lit the small heater (couldn’t get the large one going), but with so few people the hut barely warmed up. We had ice on our sleeping bags in the morning and everything we had froze solid.
The next day we took it easy due to the holes in Maya’s feet, made some toasted cheese sandwiches for lunch, and then went out for a couple of runs on the nearby Cabin Hill. The snow was perfect dry powder, and it was lots of fun weaving in between the trees and over the various bumps. In the evening more company arrived and the hut became lively again. The next day we started out skiing up towards the Aragorn glacier, following tracks set by two hard core french Canadian guys, but turned around due to a white out. Toni joined us on his crosscountry skis – quite brave of him to do the whole thing on those long and narrow noodles (he left his skins on for the downhill). The ski down was fun at first on powder, but then not so fun on a breakable sun crust. We arrived back to the hut in time for another toasted cheese sandwich lunch, and then went back to cabin hill for a couple more fun runs on powder.
Many people showed up that afternoon and into the night. We had a fun singing session with Ran (the Ranimal) on the guitar, and the mandatory vocals-only mass rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. There were about 20 people at the hut, so this time it was nice and cozy, and I dare say I was hot during the night. The next day we headed down around 8am. The ski down was surprisingly easy, mostly due to the fresh snow from the night. We made the mistake of following another party’s tracks which led us too far down, so we had to make our way along the creek painfully. At one stage I dropped the thermos down to the creek and had to go down and retrieve it – getting back up was tough. Once we were on the logging road we made our way quickly to the car through the alder tunnel, trying to keep from being hit in the face by stray branches.