A group of ravers said police and government officials did not harsh their natural high on Mount Seymour Friday night.
When North Vancouver RCMP and Metro Vancouver caught wind of the “Hike Rave” event, they set up a barricade at the base of Seymour to head off the party at the pass.
The event had been promoted on social media by Party4Health as a “naturally euphoric social experience” and up to 300 people had indicated they might show up.
Organizers skipped the step of asking Metro Vancouver, which has jurisdiction over Dog Mountain, for a permit.
Authorities, meanwhile, voiced concern about wildfires and the safety of those planning to “dance their way” up the mountain and back down in the dark.
B.C. Parks staff screened drivers at the checkpoint around 6 p.m., turning anyone away who didn’t appear to be prepared to go into the backcountry. North Vancouver RCMP members were also on hand to enforce the road closure.
North Vancouver RCMP Sgt. Doug Trousdell said on Friday the RCMP had “very serious safety concerns” about the unpermitted event.
North Shore Rescue team leader Mike Danks echoed the RCMP’s sentiments. “This has potential to go sideways quite quickly,” he said prior to the event.
Party4Health, which organized the Hike Rave, did not appear to be deterred by the police presence and took their party to the adjacent Old Buck Trail parking lot.
A crowd of about 100 people turned up wearing eccentric fashion and for the most part completed their outfits with sensible hiking boots or runners.
The group made their way up Old Buck Trail toting a sound system for about two kilometres where they stopped to have a dance party under the power lines.
The ravers used their water bottles as props, did the limbo under a string of lights, drank Kombucha and showed off some killer break dancing moves, in a video posted to the group’s Facebook page.
After the weekend, Party4Health founder Jacques Martiquet, 21, hailed the event a safe and sober success.
“Party4Health is a new style of partying which proves that partying can be a positive force in our lives, as opposed to a negative one associated with crime, drug use, hangovers,” said Martiquet, a Kitsilano resident who said his group is trying to redefine people’s idea of a rave.
Hike Rave was promoted as an alcohol and drug free experience, added Martiquet. Asked how they enforced the controlled substance policy at the event, which attracted people of all ages including high school students, Martiquet said it’s not their job to judge people’s choices.
“Instead of saying drugs and alcohol are unhealthy, we say: ‘Hey, this could cause problems with the police. This could get our event cancelled. We don’t want you to ruin the event for everyone.’”
Martiquet said B.C. Parks and Metro Vancouver staff were uninformed about the group’s safety protocols and preparedness for the Hike Rave.
“We did a test hike. We looked at all the cliffs. We decided that Dog Mountain was the best hike to do because it’s so short and there aren’t many dangers,” said Martiquet, adding the plan was to be down the mountain by 11:30 p.m.
In the event of a medical emergency, Martiquet said the group had a full first aid kit including a Naloxone kit. Martiquet, who said he’s worked at music festivals with paramedics and also does harm reduction work, was the designated first aid attendant at the event.
Martiquet said organizers consulted AdventureSmart, a national prevention program aimed at educating people about outdoor safety, while planning their party on Dog Mountain, which still has snow in some parts.
Metro Vancouver staff, meanwhile, said they would have never granted permission for the event, based on the numbers alone.
“We wouldn’t permit an event of that size on that trail, day or night. It’s an alpine trail through old growth sensitive ecosystems – it’s not set up for that,” said Heidi Walsh, director of watersheds and environmental management for Metro Vancouver.
Martiquet said they are planning another Hike Rave and “eventually people are going to understand we are not a bunch of conventional ravers.”
The Hike Rave follows another event which happened overnight on July 1, when more than 800 hikers climbed Mount Seymour to greet Canada Day and sing "O Canada" together.
That event, organized by the group Chasing Sunrise, was also unpermitted.
–with files from Brent Richter