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The Fool's Gold Route - Squamish to Port Coquitlam - Wilderness Adventure

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Published on Nov 4, 2010

Off-trail hiking adventure at its best. Complete with narration, maps, video and still images, this video gives a flavor of why few attempt the Fool's Gold Route and even fewer successfully complete it.

Fool's gold is a mineral which looks like gold, but is not gold. The term 'fool's gold' comes from the times of the Gold Rush, when miners and prospectors thought they'd found gold while prospecting, but what they'd actually found was iron pyrites or 'fool's gold' as it came to be known later.

There is a story of an entire shipload of iron pyrite having been shipped over to England during the 1500's; the yellow gold-like mineral having been mistaken for gold. You can understand where it gets the name 'fool's gold'.

The Fool's Gold Route; few attempt it; even fewer complete it.

Why is this off-trail hiking adventure so difficult? Well, there are many challenges to be faced when hiking the Fool's Gold Route; the route crosses 3 major mountain passes and traverses several major valley bottoms. Each presents a significant obstacle and challenge. There are also logistical problems that are not easy to overcome.

Most hikers will realize the upper limits of their personal capabilities when faced with such challenges. The Fool's Gold Route is full of surprises and mysteries; some to be marvelled at; others to be feared. Your best defence is to be prepared.

It took me two attempts to successfully complete the Fool's Gold Route; the first attempt met with failure when one of us was unable to continue on due to lack of bushwhacking experience, improper clothing and equipment, and complete mental and physical breakdown. His forward speed was reduced to little more than a quarter of a kilometre per hour as we passed the Cedar Spirit Grove. That was the end of the trip for us all, as we all had to abort the hike in order to escort him back to civilization. Throughout this book I refer to my first attempt, and my second attempt. Due to a foul-up, my second attempt had to be completed solo; a dangerous and risky adventure that was not of choice.

As you hike the Fool's Gold Route you will pass through the domain of Slumach and his Lost Gold Mine. Some say his ghost still inhabits the region. I don't dispute this claim. You will pass though regions that are said to possess strange giant lizards, weird giant salamanders, the wreckage of crashed airplanes, some said to contain valuable treasure within the smashed and twisted aluminum airframe. Keep your eyes open for the fabled 'tent shaped rock', a clue to the whereabouts of gold the likes of yea have never seen; walnut-sized gold nuggets, knee-deep. Ancient roads, made entirely out of cedar, wind their way up steep mountainsides, their purpose and destination unknown. And, of course, the Sasquatch, or Big Foot, is said to stalk these lands.

How does the Fool's Gold Route compare to the infamous West Coast Trail? The West Coast Trail, so gruelling that 3 hikers per day have to be rescued by helicopter every day, is roughly the same distance, but is a trail. It consists of strolls along sandy beaches, walks along boardwalks, climbing ladders and traversing bodies of water via boat or cable-car. Sure, there are some slippery sections, and some muddy sections, but you are never struggling through dense bush.

The Fool's Gold Route is 75 kilometres of struggling through the dense brush of jungle-like valley bottoms, wading though muddy swamps, summiting snow-covered high-altitude mountain passes, traversing steep over-grown side-hills; there is no trail. It is simply a partially-marked route; more of a line on a map really. No wooden walkways, no ladders.

The Fool's Gold Route is a 75 kilometre wilderness route that is not a trail. It is marked, in some places, with surveyor's flagging, and in other places it is merely a squiggly line on a map; no trail, not even a marked route. Even the sections that have been marked with flagging, much of the flagging has fallen down over the years. Route navigation is done not by following the flagging, but with map and compass; or by the use of a GPS unit. Either way, be prepared for a lot of bushwhacking. You may even have to backtrack occasionally in order to get back on course.

The Fool's Gold Route; few attempt it; even fewer complete it.

In order to successfully complete the Fool's Gold Route, one must propel oneself from one end of the route to the other. This means getting yourself from one trailhead to the one at the far end of the route. One trailhead is at the end of the Mamquam Forest Service Road, and the other is the civilization at Port Coquitlam.

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