Fraser Valley " A powder day on Lake Evelyn trail |

Fraser Valley " A powder day on Lake Evelyn trail

There’s nothing like that first powder day of the ski season, only this year mine came while I was wearing hiking boots.

On Saturday, my girlfriend and I, along with the two dogs we were taking care of for the weekend, took the trusty Subaru from Fraser to the trailhead at the base of Byer’s Peak for the short hike up to Lake Evelyn.

The backcountry is chockablock with hunters these days. And both going and coming we got caught up in little rural traffic jams made of some of the most incredible rigs ” big RVs and trailers carrying ATVs and mountains of gear. And traffic on the narrow road ” which is muddy in parts and slick with snow and ice in others ” meant pulling over for oncoming vehicles.

But whether to bag a deer or do a little pre-season ski conditioning, anyone going into the woods these days is rewarded with views of snow-dusted peaks and that first winter snap to the air. Even the red deadfall of pine beetle kill lends something to the canvas.

After the turnoff to the lake we drove a few miles of bone-jarring road that put the little car to the test, and then took to the trail, which is already covered in much more snow than I expected.

The dogs loved it. They dove into the low drifts and bounded back and forth across the fields of fluffy white, and I enjoyed hearing the crunch of snow under my boots for the first time this season.

The short hike up to the lake isn’t particularly challenging, but the higher we went the deeper the snow ” up to my knees in spots. And as the sun warmed things up, water seeped into my mesh boots and my jeans were soaked (OK, so it wasn’t the best choice of gear, and next time I’ll be sure to bring my snowshoes or cross-country skis).

We followed some footprints in the snow until they stopped at about the halfway point. From there we followed blazes carved on the trees and made our own tracks through pristine snow to the lake. The dogs scared up a few ptarmigan, and there were plenty of fox and small game tracks in the high alpine forest.

Little Lake Evelyn ” more of a pond really ” is already frozen nearly solid and framed by a dynamic windswept ridgeline that was blowing with snow.

The dogs tentatively sniffed and tested the strength of the ice, and we snacked on some energy bars and took in the view before heading downhill.

And that’s where it got fun. Following a narrow ravine, the trail was steep in parts, and with the dogs chasing after me I got a good head of steam and went hopping, sliding and windmilling my legs as I ran downhill.

OK, so maybe it was a good way to twist an ankle or tweak a knee and put an end to my ski season before it even starts, but I’ll count the “Lake Evelyn Downhill” as my first backcountry powder day and be thankful I live where the snow falls heavy before Halloween.

” Charles Agar recently moved to Fraser from Aspen and is a freelance writer and videographer. This is the first of a series of columns about local outdoor adventures. Contact him at

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