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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

It is strictly forbidden!

Last night we were just about to go to bed and the ceramic heater we had running in Newman cut out. I said, ”That’s weird.”. We had been in a wind and rain storm for most of the evening, which was pretty severe, but we hadn’t had any issues with our power. Our next door neighbour Jim texted Richard that his power was off, so that meant our power was off too! Now what? We were headed to bed in a few minutes, but with no power, that meant our furnace plugged into the 50 amp electricity wouldn’t work. We do have house batteries which we could run the ceramic heaters off, but what if the power failure lasted all night, would we run down our house batteries? Richard thought about it for awhile and then decided he would start the diesel generator and power Newman’s furnace through using the diesel generator. We have lots of diesel fuel on board and St. Stephen repaired the connection last week for the diesel generator, so we were good to go, to stay warm overnight by running the generator. Running the diesel generator overnight is how we ‘boondocked’ ‘ when we were coming across Canada in November. We wouldn’t have any electric plug ins as we ‘boondocked’ across Canada, so we would run the furnace in Walmart parking lots using the generator. Our refrigerator automatically switches to propane as its power source, if we aren’t plugged into electricity. So off we went to bed knowing we would stay warm overnight.

I slept like a log all night only waking up at 7:40am when the light started to come in through the window blinds. Richard on the other hand, did not sleep well, worrying about when the power might come back on, and at 4:15am he was up checking to see if the power had come on. He shut our water pump off and then flushed the toilet to see if the electric pump kicked in. Sure enough, it did, so he turned off the diesel generator and the furnace kicked in, on electricity. Then Richard finally went back to bed. Needless to say, he needed a nap this afternoon!

Today we were in Courtenay for my strength training and my trainer Paul was blown away that I could do squats and get down to 90 degrees! He started me on a new routine today and said that most people find getting to 90 degrees in a squat is difficult, much less someone who has had a spiral fractured femur. I keep telling him I’m Wonder Woman, so maybe now he believes me!

I’m so glad I engaged Paul for strength training, since it is really paying off. Now if only he could fix my 3 putts, I’d be happy!

I had asked Richard to get us some takeout sushi for lunch from the spot we like in Courtenay while I was training, but of course its Monday and the sushi place was closed on Monday. I still find it strange that places close on Monday’s in towns on the Island.

So instead of having lunch immediately after I finished my training, we decided to head up to a spot I had read about this morning which was West of Courtenay. The sun was shining at +10C, but it was spitting every so slightly as we started to follow Google maps heading out of town.

We are driving along and just then we saw a “Road Closed” sign which was pushed off to the side of the road.

Richard wanted to turn around at this point, but I said, “The ’Road Closed’ sign is off to the side of the road, so maybe we can get through still.” As we proceeded down the road, we then saw another sign about 2 km past the first sign that said “ROAD CLOSED, CALL IF GOING THROUGH THIS AREA’. At this point we realized they really do mean the road is closed, so we turned around. Now what?

I decided instead of using Google Maps to put our destination into my ‘WAZE’ app to see whether WAZE would bring us a different way. Sure enough, WAZE gave us a different set of directions which did not include heading down the closed road. And we were off.

We were heading up to the Forbidden Plateau today! The Forbidden Plateau is a small, hilly plateau in the east of the Vancouver Island Ranges, northwest of Comox Lake, roughly between Mount Albert Edward to the southwest and Mount Washington (where we had gone up to see the ski hills) to the northeast.

Skiing on Forbidden Plateau, 22 kilometres west of Courtenay, began in the 1920s when skiers would hike from the village of Bevan all the way up to Mt. Becher. Around this time, City of Courtenay engineer Clinton Wood was exploring the area and quickly recognized its beauty and recreational potential. Wishing to share his discovery with the general public, Wood wrote to Ben Hughes, publisher of the Courtenay-Comox Argus newspaper. Wood, who was also secretary of the local board of trade, suggested to Hughes "the idea that a bit of mystery added to the obvious attractions would help to publicize it." And so it was that Hughes and a colleague named the area Forbidden Plateau. Hughes also seized the opportunity to fabricate a spooky legend:

According to the popular, though disproven legend, when the K’omoks faced raids from other coastal tribes, they took their women and children to the plateau for safekeeping. During a raid by the Cowichan, the women and children vanished without a trace. When a member of the tribe went looking for the women and children, he found red lichen covering the snow and nearby rocks and assumed the lichen was the blood from the family members. Since then, the plateau became taboo, for it was believed that it was inhabited by evil spirits who had consumed those they loved.

As we drove up Forbidden Plateau Road we started to see little bits of snow still on the ground. The temperature had dropped from +10C to +6C. As we continued to drive up the windy, very bumpy road with lots of pot holes, the snow banks on either side of the road starting getting bigger and bigger.

Headed up to Forbidden Plateau.

There goes the car wash from yesterday!

We eventually reached the part of the road where the “Do Not Pass without Snow Tires & Chains from October to April” sign appeared. We kept on driving though as the road was still ok, and it was still lightly raining.

A house set down from the road, on the way up to Forbidden Plateau.

The fence going down the driveway to a house on Forbidden Plateau Road. Obviously a summer residence, as the road had not been plowed. The scenery, even on a cloudy grey day, was stunning! Richard said to me “Do you think you would ever tire of looking at that vista?” No way. What a beautiful spot.

We arrived at the top of Hidden Plateau and the road was treacherous. Jerry was in 4 wheel drive, but since we don’t have snow tires and the snow at the top was very deep, we didn’t get out of the car. It seems that a few other brave souls were there to enjoy the snow, probably to snow shoe at the top of the Plateau. I had read that there were remains of the Forbidden Plateau ski resort at the top of the ski hill, but with the amount of snow at the top, there was nothing to see unfortunately.

A bit more history on the ski resort follows now: In 1928, Wood co-founded the Comox District Mountaineering Club and promoted skiing on the Plateau. Six years later he built Forbidden Plateau Lodge just below what is now the former ski hill (the lodge would burn down in 1982). In the late 1940s a "cable wrapped around a wheel rim," run by a war surplus four-cylinder Wisconsin engine, served as the hill's first rope tow. Thanks to the Club, by the early 1950s there was a maintained run from Mt. Becher, through the forest, all the way down to the lodge. The Club also organized the first Kandahar downhill race in 1951—an annual March event that would continue for decades.

In 1979-1980, Mount Washington ski resort opened as direct competition to Forbidden Plateau Ski Hill. Forbidden Plateau had a disastrous ski season in 1980-1981 in which no snow fell for the first time since 1947, which left the Society running the ski hill owing $165,000 to small businesses all over the Comox Valley and they also had an accumulated debt of $900,000. The weather did not cooperate the next winter either and left the Society unable to make interest payments on a loan with Royal Bank. By now it looked like that Mt. Washington with its higher elevations, better snow conditions, more runs and superior equipment was poaching significant numbers of skiers from Forbidden. Fast forward to Feb 25, 1999 when after a massive snowfall, one third of the day lodge’s roof collapsed under heavy snow. The lodge was not insured. A week after resuming operations a valve on a diesel tank broke and leaked over 5,000 litres of fuel which contaminated the well of nearby cabins and a fish bearing stream. Cabin owners took legal action and the Ministry of the Environment planned to pursue Forbidden for the cost of the cleanup, so the mountain closed indefinitely. On Feb 24, 2002, 3 years since the roof collapse, the Forbidden Plateau lodge burned to the ground and everything was shut down. In 2015 a director of the Comox Valley Regional district wrote to the Province requesting funding to clean up and remediate the former ski hill. By 2019, the project was complete however the chairlift’s return bull wheel remained at the summit. We did not see the bull wheel today, as there was too much snow at the summit. It was an interesting drive up the mountain, even if we didn’t get to see the remains of the ski lodge.

After visiting Forbidden Plateau, we decided to head to Cumberland for lunch. We really enjoyed visiting the coffee shop in the old post office last time we were there for the delicious homemade soup and cheese scones with butter.

Waiting for his lunch.

We had found out online that the coffee shop was for sale by owner for $175,000, which did not include the building, which they lease. When we were having our lunch, we overheard the owner’s wife saying that they believe they have the business sold and will know tomorrow. Cumberland is definitely a growing spot, as we found out today, with many new homes being constructed in a subdivision in town. I’m sure that the downtown area of Cumberland will always be a vibrant place that attracts many people young and old, who enjoy hiking and mountain biking, and with very few food options on the main street, I’m sure their business has done well over the years.

We headed home after lunch and of course a quick stop at the Cumberland Bakery, which I had thought would be closed on a Monday, was open, so we had to go in for a quick visit. Their shortbread and scones are my favourites and Richard had a raspberry, blueberry danish! After my workout today at strength training, my chocolate dipped shortbread cookie is my treat after dinner!

As we were driving home on the Coastal Hwy, quite near our location at Lighthouse RV Park, we notice a bunch of police cars and one vehicle impaled on a tree.

Must have been quite a distraction that led to this crash!


When we got home I noticed that the sea lions were now more abundant and a lot closer to shore on new oyster rafts.

Sea lions on oyster rafts in Fanny Bay. Talk about a cacophony of noise from these animals! Richard spoke to our fisherman friend Cory who said the sea lions have all arrived waiting for the herring run!

Tonight Richard and Jim, our neighbour, decided they were going to make a fire at our fire pit. Our other neighbour Tim was to bring some more wood for the fire. Jim and Richard got started with the fire before Tim showed up though.

They were lamenting that their drinks were on the picnic table and I was trying to take their photograph!

Tim finally showed up with his pick up truck full of wood for the fire.

Now we have a proper wood pile for many more fires...or is it really a good excuse to have a drink?!

And another beautiful day sets on Fanny Bay.

While we didn’t get to see the Forbidden Plateau as we would have liked, it still was beautiful to see the vista’s on the drive up to the Plateau. I would never tire of the views if I lived up there! It is a bit too remote, but definitely worth the drive, for a visit.

And tomorrow we have another tee time at Qualicum Beach Memorial Golf Club with our buddies Ken and Curtis! Let’s hope we get lots of golf in, during the month of March, trying new courses we haven’t played yet.

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