A glorious day out with a bunch of fellow hikers from Wanderung. I don't really like this trail in the summer - too boring to begin with and too many roots on a horrible trail after that. But with some snow to cover up the worst of the roots it's none too bad. And the views at the end are pretty good for a winter's day.
The snow is thin and well compacted along the trail. Microspikes or YakTrax were helpful for the descent but not really needed on the way up. Off trail, there is about 20 cm of light powder sitting on an icy crust. This crust bore my weight quite easily. Be careful on slopes as there was little traction on this icy layer, even with YakTrax. My nemesis slope just before Strachan Meadows was easy to cross thanks to the lack of snow.
A couple of things to note. Day passes are at the old lodge - pick up one before you try and cross the ski area. And don't expect to start on the trail before 9:30 - we (and everyone else) were held up by the fact that the ski resort was still doing work on the runs. I'm guessing that this is mostly due to them having to manage the low snow levels and work to make the skiing any good, and that this restriction might be eased later in the season.
Wildlife report. Saw a pair of Steller's jays at Bowen Lookout, plus a couple of whisky jacks. More - and bolder - whisky jacks at the "summit". Please don't feed them. A couple of people had close calls with food they had no intention of sharing with the birds. At one point on the return trip a troupe of seven ravens flew overhead - I've never seen so many ravens in one group before. Finally we saw a red-headed sapsucker tapping away on one of the giant hemlocks.
Another hike with misleading stats: my GPS read nearly 13.5 km with a cumulative elevation gain of 600 m, somewhat more than the official values.