Diez Vistas Loop Trip (Buntzen Lake)
Report by Adele Tremblay
On May 30 a half-dozen hardy hikers tackled the Diez Vistas, fully expecting a showery day and a longer-than-usual return along the west side of the lake. Amazingly, though, skies were brightening up by 9 a.m., and a passerby informed us that the suspension bridge had reopened, both promising omens for our day.
At our first stop near the floating bridge, Elena provided some interesting history about the original Lake Beautiful and development of hydroelectric power dating back to the early 1900’s.
From there we began the steady ascent to the ridge, first marvelling at the fern-covered forest floor, but then, as we navigated the rough switchbacks, focussing our attention on the roots and rocks until finally inching our way up the steep and deeply eroded section that leads to the first look-out. There – still under miraculously dry skies – we caught our breath, dug out our much-appreciated morning snacks, and watched cloud banks shift over Belcarra, Deep Cove, and Vancouver in the distance.
After a brief side-trip down the east side of the ridge to check out the Punta del Este’s misty views over Buntzen Lake, Elena led us northward along the undulating trail above Indian Arm. We passed deep green salal, mosses of every shade and type, massive rocks and caves that we imagined sheltered bears or mythical monsters, and saxifrage-covered rock faces. Sharp eyes caught the signs of lipstick lichen, and all of us marvelled at the work of piliated woodpeckers and sapsuckers.
Those familiar with the trail know it’s not easy to find all ten of the original vistas, but we likely managed to locate nine of them, lingered at those still offering true views, and chose an especially comfortable one for what Elena recommended should be the “first half of lunch”: there was still a lot of distance to cover.
The descent off the north end of the ridge — another steep, eroded section — required concentration and (for some, in any case) the help of trekking poles. After following remnants of “corduroy” roads from early logging activities in the area, we finally reached the lush valley- bottom trail.
Parts of the route along McCombe Lake (north of the suspension bridge), more crushed-rock construction road than trail in fact, felt unfamiliar, but thankfully Hydro’s signage was good. Still, the most welcome sign was the one pointing in the direction of North Beach. The bridge was indeed open; we could take the shorter trail back to the cars!
Fully expecting to find a replacement bridge, we were surprised to see the old one with a sign on it: maximum four people at a time and something akin to “use at your own risk”. At the far end, we met a young BC Hydro employee tasked with tracking the number of users per day. Hydro’s plans for the new bridge are on hold due to crew shortages, we learned, so they’ve reopened the old one, at least temporarily.
At North Beach, under partially sunny skies, we lingered over Lunch Part II and then gradually made our way along the usual east side route to the starting point. Elena’s timing was perfect: she’d estimated 5:00 as our return time and had us back with a few minutes to spare.
It could not have been a better day in any way: perfect weather, great company and conversation, a good physical challenge, and the opportunity to be surrounded by the lush green of a late spring day.