On a rainy Sunday morning a group of Harrier departed for Shawnigan Lake in search of some singletrack trails to stamp smiles on their hearts. Their dear friend Larry had previously scouted a beautiful 120 minute out-and-back from the quarry to the majestic Kinsol Trestle . Mountaineering-extraordinaire Andrew brought along his new GPS watch loaded up with the route. A look at the weather report at 6:00am showed light rain (predicted ~ 1mm). Perfect conditions! Little did these fearless Harriers know that a couple hours later they would be drenched, shivering and questioning their abilities as they attempted to navigate back through the maze of trails.
Arrival at the trail head was met with giddy excitement. Contrary to the weather report it was raining quite hard and the temperature had dropped a few degrees from the previous night. Packing extra jackets and donning winter running gear the crew headed off with local runner Nancy leading the way confidently. With her knowledge of the area we managed to find some nice trails and run fairly undisturbed for the first 20 minutes or so. Glancing at his watch, Andrew noticed that we were "100 meters off the trail". In true Harrier style we decided to bushwack, through some stinging nettle (ouch!), the "100 meters to the trail". Once again, with the help of Nancy's knowledge we continued on for the next while without issue. Wanting to move a little faster and enjoy some wider trails, Nancy decided to leave us at the trail junction with the idea of meeting us at the Trestle. We continued along the Pocahontas trail before one of us decided that we were not yet wet and muddy enough. Kristy enjoyed a graceful 'slide' through a large mud puddle. In true runner fashion she brushed it off and 3 minutes later we popped out at the Trestle; unknown to her she would end up with quite the souvenir from that 'slide'. Beautiful even in the pouring rain and dense cloud we traversed over and back to fully appreciate the beauty of this structure. With no signs of Nancy and our temperature dropping quickly we decided to continue back. A quick glance at the map and off we went to follow our footsteps in reverse...or at least that was the plan!
Somewhere soon after that 16 minute stretch of Pocahontas trail we managed to take a wrong turn and commence a 33 minute additional loop that brought us back to the spot where Nancy departed us. However, we did not realize this at the time and spent considerable energy getting our bearings. Using Andrew's watch, 2nd GPS and Franck's phone we stated we were 200% sure we needed to head along the single track fork. Not even 5 minutes in Gary queried "Should the river be on our right again?" A collective "Uh-oh, nope" was heard and shortly after we recognized a large fallen tree that we had passed twice already; once on the way to the Trestle and once back. We had managed to convince ourselves that we were heading towards the car when in actual fact we were headed in the complete opposite direction. Back we went to the fork. Andrew pulled out his GPS and found that we were "100 meters from the trail". Once on the trail we were amazed at how many different turns there were; none of us remember ANY of them. Frequently consulting the GPS, Andrew's phrase of the run became "just 100 meters off the trail". Visibly shivering, Andrew persevered and after another half loop out, many false side trails and quarter loop back he managed to find his way back to the correct route. The rest of us stayed on the trial fairly well as long as we maintained a "100 meter" buffer between him and us. As Franck learned after flying down a steep hill, going in front of Andrew was dangerous business - back up that hill we had to trudge!
Arriving back at the cars we found Larry and Val patiently awaiting our return; 1 hour after they finished! Thankfully, Nancy had also found her way successfully home We returned to Larry's house where he had baked muffins and cookies and made some delicious coffee to warm us up. We also enjoyed some entertainment from his faithful four-legged companion Abby; apparently she had inhaled a bit of air on their hike. All in all it was an EPIC adventure and we got to explore some thoroughly wonderful trails!