Post #3079: Distinctive trees of fall.

Trembling aspen taken near Link Lake in October, 2017. Each of these “trees” is part of a single root mass – comprising a single organism that could take up as many as 100 acres. Each shoot may only live for a short time (50-150 years), but the mass as a whole may live for 80,000 years or more. The sound of the wind in these trees is what makes them most notable – a fluttering of thousands of tiny wings against one another. I often find myself on my knees in the forest loam – the best posture for both awe and photography.

Small changes and a canoe trip.

One small change really can trigger a host of others.

Just a few weeks ago I set a hiking goal for the first week of July (and convinced several people to come with). Since then I have re-entered the gym for regular workouts, taken up pilates, had several outdoor hikes and plus started periodically walking to work. This week I booked an appointment with a trainer for posture and alignment analysis and I cut wheat from my diet.

My goals have expanded from just being able to do a 5-day hike again to overall health, posture and diet  – not to mention getting the thyroid nodules under control and boosting its function. And now that I am re-engaged on a path of wellness, I can acknowledge that I also want a better body at the end of it all. A more energized and more youthful body, not to mention a slimmer one. Or at least a more toned one.

This is not a first-time endeavour for me – not by a long shot. I have been in better and worse and better and worse shape for the last twenty years. It’s a bit of a cycle, as it is for all of us who don’t naturally gravitate towards athletics (and those of us who like bread, cheese and wine a little too much). This brings a bag of mixed feelings each time I re-enter the gym.

On the one hand, I’ve got myself in shape before, so I know it can be done. On the other, I’ve got myself in shape before and then got out of shape again, so what’s the point?

I think the point is not letting the out of shape become the rest of my life slide into poor health by the age of sixty. And also, I got more hiking to do!

This past Easter Sunday, Brian and I grabbed a friend and drove out to Pitt Lake where we canoed up Widgeon Slough and then hiked 6 km to Widgeon Falls and back. Brian dislikes hiking unless there is a “point” – ie, something of an adventure or a picnic at the end – so combining a canoe trip with a hike *and* a picnic is something he can get behind. Turns out, the falls are an incredible place to have lunch – some of the nicest I have been to with lots of great smooth rock face for picnicking on. And the canoe trip up is pretty sweet too.

It’s a process, this getting back into the body, and it’s important to pepper that with reminders of what is out there to see and do. We’ve had such amazing weather on the coast these past two weeks – which has certainly aided my mood to get outside and hit the trails – and I’m taking advantage of all the great resources I have around me in order to stay positive and increasingly ramp myself back up to speed.

While I am not making any big pronouncements or promises – I am hopeful that the shot at the head of this post will become a “before” shot reminder of where I started. Happy yes! Mobile and somewhat agile – yes! But also not in the shape I want to be.  At forty, I know I can do a lot better.

Getting ready to hike again!

And in other fun news……. last week I started the ball rolling on a backpacking trip for early July and now I’m up to eight participants on this little adventure (Brian, Mica, our friends Jon and Al (who we play music with), Al’s teenage son and a nephew, plus Brian’s uncle). I’m hoping that we can get a friend of Mica’s to come along as well, but so far I’ve got buy-in and reservations for six tent pads over four nights on the trail to Berg Lake in the Rockies (Mt Robson Provincial Park) and we’re all pretty stoked about it. This trip boasts amazing views, wildlife, and a lake with icebergs!

On the downside, my fitness level is on the middling to low side at the moment because I haven’t been activated around going to the gym or even getting outside much since last summer. I know that if I hit the trail to Berg Lake today, I could make it – but it would be more of a struggle than an enjoyment and who wants to book five days of holidays just to suffer?

Booking four months in advance not only ensured that we could get permits and tent pads for this popular area, but it gives a realistic amount of time for getting into good backpacking form. I’m not the only one of our crew feeling this way either – which means Brian and I will have company for weekend hikes over the spring. I’ve also signed up for a pedometer challenge at the YWCA for the month of March (the standard 10,000 steps a day) which was fortuitously timed to get me consciously thinking about my daily activity.

On Monday I went for a first hike in months – the 5.5 kilometre Lynn Loop at Lynn Headwaters Park. This is one of my favourite jaunts because it is close (15 minutes from my house to the parking lot) and the terrain is somewhat varied. The first km tracks straight uphill, followed by about 2 km of undulating terrain, a half km downhill on stairs, and 2 km of easy flat terrain on the way out.  It’s a great starter hike for the season because it’s relatively short, but given my inactivity over the winter that first kilometre up got my heart rate going! On more energetic days, the loop can be lengthened to 10 km by skipping the stairs and hiking on to the debris shoot, or to 14 km by heading on to Norvan Falls.

Since I’m feeling a bit novice at the moment, the 5.5 km did me just fine this week but I’m looking forward to adding the debris chute and Norvan falls in the near future. Having the north shore routes so close by (and well-traveled) gives me some easy-access solo hiking options for Mondays, and I’m hoping for some further afield day-trips once the snow melts a bit in the mountains. Plus gym time (grumble).

Any tips for a backpacker fitness program? Please let me know 🙂

Life at 4 km an hour.

Lynn Headwaters is my favourite place to hike in the Lower Mainland for two reasons: it is only a 15-minute drive from my house and it offers a variety of hiking challenge-levels depending on my mood.  Along the river is a flat, easy walk. On the upper trails are steep grades to Lynn Peak and undulating forest paths that wind through to an old logging debris chute before turning back. And for distance, Norvan falls at 14 kilometres makes a satisfying destination. I have hiked all of these trails at one time or another over the past decade of spending time there – balking only at the rough back country trails up Coliseum Mountain or through Hanes Valley due to reports that they aren’t well marked and I’m probably not in the greatest shape for such adventures.

My last two Mondays off work however, I have started my day with the 5.5 km Lynn loop hike which provides a good mix of steep grade, undulating paths and a flat 1.5 km return to the trail head. It’s not only an opportunity to get the dog out on a decent run, but I have always enjoyed hiking alone – and while Lynn is busy most of the time, if I go early on a Monday the upper trails are all but empty (until around ten, when the power joggers come out). This is some of the first solo hiking that I’ve done in at least a year – and I had forgotten just how much I get out of such short jaunts. Just an hour and fifteen minutes of trail time is really all it takes.

One of my observations over years of hiking is how much differently the mind seems to operate when in the act of walking than when stationary or driving a car or even riding a bike. Herein lies one of the greatest pleasures of hiking alone – the uninterrupted spool of thoughts my mind reels though as I make my way. Not in the monkey-mind, chattery sense – but in a light, exploratory mode that moves along with my physical being and is let go the minute I step back out onto pavement and get into my car to go home.

This type of thinking seems qualitatively different than the kind  I do when driving long distances, matched to to the footfall perhaps. One person I knew once commented that to walk everywhere was “life at 4 km at hour” and he figured that was the optimal speed for the mind to activate. But, like a moving meditation, I find the act of sitting to write and capture the flow of those thoughts nearly impossible. To be stationary breaks the moving spell and I am again tethered to a single place, my mind sluggish after its romp through the forest. It’s this conundrum of needing to sit still to write after the freedom of movement that makes good nature writing so difficult. To have the experience of outdoors and then to attempt to set it to the page has always struck me as something that must be practiced always in order to find the balance between the modes – outdoor/indoor, moving/still, forest/city, earth/computer, organic/artificial.

But tis something I would like to practice, as impossible as it seems to me. This act of fixing dirt to the page, of scribbling undergrowth in the margins of my prose.

I’m currently reading two books of nature essays which I will share my thoughts on later this week. (Nature-essay being a form for which I have great affinity.) The question as always is what makes it work and how do I get there? Perhaps we’ll get more words out this fall than I have for the past few months. These forest jaunts certainly make me wish that to be so.

Foiled! (And renewed)

Gah! No sooner did I post my little “I’ve got a secret” yesterday…. and the whole thing got derailed by one phone call last night. Which means I can tell you about it now, and also about our Plan B. (And Plan C – B & I are planners after all… and when we want something enough we are also do-ers.)

So – first the saga of the cabin. As much as I would like to tell the story poetically, it would take too long for first thing in the morning so here’s the short of it: On our recent trip North, Brian and I stumbled onto a property on a pretty little lake at the end of a logging road – a property that had very obviously not been inhabited for at least twenty years. It’s behind a locked gate, and the main cabin has been badly trashed, but even still we got ridiculously excited about this magical spot and started to dream about what it could be if we got a group of people together on it.

When our friends arrived two days later, we took them there as well and they also could see the potential of the building (which is trashed, but the main log structure definitely salvageable and solid) and the land for a group of dedicated folks who wanted a summer refuge, a hunting cabin, an interior basecamp for un-coastal activities, a place to drop a fishing line from – etc. On further investigation it was clear (to our friend Kyla at least) that the previous industrial use of the spot was as some kind of water-extracting business and that a spring must exist high-up on the property that someone had once tried to exploit.

I could go on about the characteristics of the place, but for now I’ll leave that alone and jump to the next part — which is that I made the assumption that this must have been a crown land water lease that was now abandoned and that we could form a society and apply for use of the property. And it was on that basis that we wiled away the next two days dreaming of what we could make of such a property, fully engaged in a beautiful collective fantasy of our cabin on a lake in the woods.

Within 24 hours of getting back to the city (and Google, and property record searches), Brian and I had ascertained that not only was that parcel *privately* owned, but that the owner was still alive and had indeed once attempted a water business from that location thirty years prior. So, still – we figured we might have a chance to get a lease on the land for 10-15 years which would allow us to fix up the cabin and use it for a reasonable amount of time. After all, no one has set foot on this place in decades (not a footprint or a fire ring to be found) – wouldn’t it be an opportunity to rent it and give someone the money to cover taxes at least?

Of course, you know the answer (which we got last night from the very affable owner – a lovely older German man who expressed deeply how much he wanted to help us get something in the area) was no. No, because he still has dreams of getting the water business going again and there are other investors now involved. I have to admit I find it difficult to believe there are investors who have not set foot on the property to see the condition of things (the cisterns are smashed and broken, the power generation shed roof stoved in, etc) – but perhaps it *is* so. Or perhaps he wanted to let us down kindly. Either way, our hopes were up the night before because he had returned our phone call and “wanted to talk to us” but it turns out he just wanted to be nice about the whole thing.

For about half an hour last night I was really crushed…. until I ate some crackers and farmer’s market soft cheese and maple-smoked salmon (my surefire cure-all for any kind of blues)….. and then I perked up again. Because all along there has been a Plan B and C and we always knew it was a long shot that someone would just let us use their land for cheap or almost-free. And it has only been two weeks since we came home from that trip so at least we didn’t have too much time to get attached. (But wow, I really wanted that land so bad it made my stomach hurt).

We didn’t get that land, but what I realized in the process is that I still very much want access to a little piece of land outside of the city. Over the years I have tried to work that dream out of my mind because it seemed impractical – but this discovery was a kick in the heart and I don’t care if it’s practical or not. It’s something I want more than anything else…. a place to go, a weekend refuge at the end of a road, a little spot for building projects, a base for hunting/fishing/hiking/climbing, a cabin just big enough for a snuggly bed and a woodstove.

But at the same time we aren’t all that interested in just getting land and going it alone. For one thing, we don’t have almost any money at the moment (this project has lead to some serious talking about how to put some money aside, so we now have a new financial approach that should help out on this front). But really, for the amount of time we could actually spend at a place – it seems stupid not to share with other people. We have tons of city friends who want a place to go (for all the activities listed above) and don’t have a bunch of money for their own spot.

So! This is how we are proceeding:

Plan A: The affable fellow calls us back in a change of heart and offers us a fifteen year lease. (Unlikely, I know – but I feel that I am meant to have that land).

Plan B: We are forming a Vancouver-based outdoor society (Victoria folks welcome!) and this fall Brian and I are going back into that same area to check out some crown land adjacent to the private land we fell in love with. Non-profit organizations are allowed to apply for crown land leases if they can prove a community and environmental benefit. I expect this process will take 1-2 years, but we have the goal of identifying a couple of spots this fall that would be possibilities. Criteria for us is that it include water (a creek or a lake) close-by, and that it be within about six hours from Vancouver (and preferably not on the Island since the best hunting isn’t there and ferries are already expensive for us).

Plan C: If crown-land leasing turns out to be a total pain, then we will turn our attention to finding a piece of land within two years that our society members could collectively buy at a reasonable sum. In the same area we just found 15 acres for $37,000 that is two minutes from a swimming/fishing lake – and yesterday I identified a 1-acre lakefront crown-land lease with two cabins on it for $50,000 (which I don’t think is a great deal, just a sample). Either of these pieces would allow a collective of 5-10 people to put in just a few thousand dollars to have access. Given that real estate prices in this province are on a downward decline and half of rural BC is for sale right now, I am hopeful that in the next couple of years we can lowball an offer on something that suits our needs and be successful in purchasing outright.

Either way, our first step is to form the society. Hell, even if we had got the private lease, we probably would have gone this route because it’s easier to do things collectively through a formal, legal body.

Today Brian is doing a namesearch which will allow us to move ahead in the society process and then? We will be asking people who we think/know are interested if they are willing to embark on this process with us. This requires no big commitment upfront, but a decision to share some work in researching property and putting together crown land applications — as well as an agreement to enter a collective land fantasy with other people.

One thing I do know about Brian and I — we have a lot of ideas that we toss around and then never do — but when it comes to the things we want to do? We’re determined, organized and totally able to pull them together. Rural and is one question we have not been able to put down in all these five years we’ve been together – and so it seems that now is the time to turn our attention there.

Whatever happens next, it’s going to be an interesting story.

A little boat story.

On a trip down a logging road in the North-Interior, Brian spotted some access to a pretty little lake. Abandoning the car by the side of the road, we walked down the twenty-foot dirt track to find an excellent site for future camping. But even better than that was a boat, long-tied-up and full of water with the weathered oars sitting on the bank. Not daunted by the fact we had no bailer, Brian went to the car and got his travel coffee mug – which he used to great effect over half an hour or so (while I picked the wild blueberries which lined the shore). Once it was emptied out, it became apparent that the boat was not taking on water from below, and despite its rickety (and patched) nature, was still somewhat water-worthy. So we took it out fishing even though it wasn’t the best time of day for it. Later on in the week when our friends came to join us, we took them to the pretty little lake and they got to enjoy “our” boat too. It was a magical discovery, and I hope the next time we are up that way our find is still there, tied up to the shore.

Just one of our little vacation adventures….. more coming soon.

Photographs from the Wacky Woods (Fanny Bay, BC)

On our recent vacation, we stopped at the Wacky Woods on our way out of Fanny Bay, BC. It was a quick jaunt into the forest to show our friends the outdoor installations of the late George Sawchuk – but the sheer volume of work there never fails to impress. Humorous, provocative, penitent and sometimes melancholy – the passions and social critiques of Sawchuk are writ large on these woods – his legacy being a real community treasure. Though I have not got the rest of our trip photos online, I did put up a gallery from the Wacky Woods last week. Interested in more about Sawchuk? See this post that Brian penned after we visited the artist’s studio in 2008 when he was still very much alive.

My Top Eleven BC Trips (Part Two)

Picking up from Part One yesterday – here are destinations 6-11 in my Top Eleven BC Trips for summer.

Old power generating station in the historic ghost town of Sandon.

Slocan Valley: From where you leave Highway 3 before Nelson to Revelstoke, the Number 6 winds through the valley and the communities of Slocan City, New Denver, Silverton, Crescent Valley, Slocan Park, Passmore, Vallican, Winlaw, Appledale, Perry Siding, Lemon Creek, Rosebury, and Hills. Some of these are towns, some of them are not. Side trips along the way allow for poking around in the ghost town of Sandon (among others – but Sandon has a lot of historical significance as the first electrified town in North America, plus a lot of buildings are still there), visits to hot springs, and lots of great camping along river and lakesides. If you’ve never done any of the Kootenays, I would recommend taking a couple of days (or more) and exploring this area – the Arrow Lakes and mountains around are gorgeous, and there are plenty of forest service roads in the area to access the back country. Beautiful area and friendly communities!
Tags: Road trip, backcountry, hot springs, historic sites, hiking, swimming

Looking up the Salmon Inlet from our campsite, evening storm setting in.

The Sechelt Inlet: I lived up on the Sunshine Coast for a few years, and while I was there I made three trips on the Sechelt Inlet. One five-day canoe trip, one day-long kayaking trip, and one three day trip to Storm Bay. While the inlet trips are not only beautiful, but easily accessible from Vancouver, I should mention that this is a *working* inlet with fish farms, fishing, logging, and salvage activity – so this is not exactly an untouched paradise. On the other hand, the marine park at Tzoonie Narrows is nothing short of magical (across from an old homestead and not far past Storm Bay), and the paddling is relatively easy because it is an inland waterway. The marine park campgrounds are spaced out around the inlet, so you can choose a short overnight or a multiday trip. Canoe and kayak rentals are readily available in the area, and the amount of activity on the inlet means that you are never far from help (as I discovered when the motorboat we took to Storm Bay broke down in the middle of the Inlet on our way back). Great fishing in the sheltered bays. Incredible phospheresence up here in the summer. See my canoe trip photos on flickr.
Tags: Camping, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, shellfish gathering, wildlife viewing

Near Payzant Creek entrance the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. Beautiful, but it can be foggy like this even in mid-summer.

Juan de Fuca Marine Trail: If you have thought about doing the West Coast Trail but you missed booking on time (or don’t want to pay the big fee), I would highly recommend that you do its conjoining sister the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. Not as famous, but just as challenging, the JFMT connects Jordan River and Port Renfrew and wends across Mystic, Bear, China, Sombrio and Botanical Beaches. This is a fairly challenging trail, but well-maintained and the campsites are mostly in the beach areas which means campfires (at least most of the time). This is a very wet trail, with mudholes and so forth – it’s the west coast of the island too so it can be foggy anytime of year – so pick a dry time to do it. We did it in a really dry August and the mudholes were still pretty mucky! The scenery is incredible with much bluff and beach hiking along the way. Nearly 50 kilometres from start to finish – good waterproof gear is necessary if you are to enjoy the trip.
Tags: Backpacking, hiking, camping

Nicomen Lake Trail: Also nearly 50 kilometres from start to finish, this trail starts at the Manning Park lookout, and winds down to Nicomen Lake in the sub-alpine terrain of the park. You can actually take this hike all the way down to the highway (if you have cars on both ends), but I have only ever done a hike-in/out so I don’t know how the trail continues after Nicomen Lake. What’s great about this backpacking trip is that you get all the benefit of the sub-alpine without actually having to hike into it (a bit like Cathedral Lakes) since you drive to a very high point before setting out. This is one of the reasons why the hike is marked as “moderate” – and it has no technical challenges – but there is still quite a lot of elevation change on the trip. Sadly, the last time I did this trip I was still recovering from a broken ankle (see Juan de Fuca Marine Trail above) and I really struggled with physical pain and swelling. Despite that, I was capable of making it the whole way in and back over four days and Nicomen Lake is a mountain jewel not to be missed. By August the lake is swimmable, and wilderness campsites are mostly lakeside. This trail can get pretty busy on weekends, so if you have the option I would recommend a Monday-Friday trip – otherwise bring good hiking poles! You will want them for the descent to the lake.
Tags: Backpacking, hiking, camping

Old post office at Ocean Falls still in operation for the town’s forty residents.

Bella Coola to Port Hardy by boat (24 hour version): If you are not into hiking I have the circle tour for you! The drive is long, and the ferries aren’t cheap – but this trip takes you through many of BC’s climactic and geographical areas, ending with a trip to an almost-ghost town and an overnight sleep on the deck of a BC Ferry. I mean that’s BC! The Bella Coola trip out of Vancouver takes you along the #1 into the interior and then north and back out to the west coast on the 97 – in a minimum time of 15 hours of some mostly easy driving (until you get to the “Freedom Highway” which is also known as “The Hill” – a road built by locals in the 1950s when the government refused to build a land connection). I would suggest this trip takes two days and a good halfway point is either 100 mile hour or Williams Lake. There is lots of great hiking and wildlife viewing in Bella Coola – so it’s definitely worth checking out for a couple of days – and then the ferry ride home begins! Seriously, you have to reserve your spot on the ferry, and make sure you take the 24 hour route because otherwise you are totally missing the point of treating BC Ferries like your very own cruise ship. When you get on the ferry, you must go upstairs to the plexi-glass covered deck and immediately put your sleeping things down where you want to sleep. If you wait too long, you won’t get sleeping space on the deck and you will be forced to sleep in one of the barcolounger chairs inside. If you are really adventurous, the crew will let you pitch your tent on an outside deck later on. The 24-version of this trip leaves Bella Coola Harbour under the towering presence of mountains and glaciers, and meanders through the fjords to the communities of Bella Bella, Ocean Falls and later, Shearwater. In Ocean Falls, there is a three-hour stopover where you can explore the almost-ghost-town that still has about forty people living in it. Creepy and amazing, there are old logging roads and trails to explore – and also a “museum” operating out of the old grocery co-op if you want to see some of the town’s refuse in a dark warehouse (I did, and it was worth it in an odd sort of way). Once you get back on the ferry (don’t miss it! they don’t come that often), they have a salmon bbq and they sell beer, and it’s a bit of a party. As the ferry leaves Shearwater, the sun will be setting and about the time you bed down, the boat hits open ocean in its crossing to Port Hardy.
Tags: Ferry, road trip, historic sites, hiking, wildlife viewing

Cathedral Mountain in Yoho National Park, evening light.

Yoho National Park: While I find the whole national park thing to be a bit expensive (you have to pay to have your vehicle in the park, plus camping fees which ends up being double what you would pay to camp in a provincial park) – it wouldn’t be a BC Top Ten without including at least some of the Rockies. Yoho National Park and surrounding environs are definitely worth the drive out from the coast (about ten hours from Vancouver on a good traffic day). Campsites are well-serviced, federal parks staff are excellent, hiking trails are well-kept and of course Yoho is home to not only historic sites (such as the Twin Falls Chalet, accessed via an 8 km hike one way), but some truly impressive peaks and waterfalls. Our recommended camping destination is the Takakkaw Falls, which requires walking your gear in (about half a kilometre and the park supplies carts), but affords incredible views of the falls and as close to drive-in camping you can get without the RVs and generators. There is lots to do in the area, depending on your interests – but we mostly stuck to hiking in Yoho and also at Kicking Horse down near Golden. This trip was my first real Rockies adventure (other than driving through) and it has whetted my appetite for more in the future. Highly recommended as a family camping trip.
Tags: Backpacking, hiking, camping, road trip, wildlife viewing, historic sites

I hope if you live here, these suggestions inspire you to check out more of the province, and if you don’t live here you can consider them insider tips from a local. Even though I grew up in BC, I never get tired of the wild spaces and history that make up our province – and I believe that to keep much of our home out of the hands of destructive developers (aka run of the river power projects, enbridge and the like) we need to lay claim to our home by occupying it both figuratively and literally. Please join me in getting to know this great home, and please let me know what your favourite BC Trips are so I can add them to my own list of “next-to-explore”.

My Top Eleven BC Trips (Part One)

Damn. Just like that the kid’s out of school and holiday season is upon us! Brian and I have been making our plans over the last few weeks and thus far we have a cabin booked on Hornby Island, a hot springs overnight, a week long trip to Wells Gray park, a family visit to Victoria, and a campsite reserved at Porteau Cove in early fall. I’m hoping to also jam in another weekend trip or two – depending on how much time I can effectively wriggle away from work.

I’m not much of an international traveller – partly for environmental and economic reasons – but also because I am so comfortable on the backroads of my home province and I haven’t seen all there is to see in BC (it’s big). As it is, you will notice that my top eleven are very “southern” which is only a tiny fraction of BC travelling.

I have spent a great deal of time zipping around and checking things out close to home – and (I think) I’ve got some good spots to offer in terms of vacation possibilities for those of you who haven’t yet planned your holidays. Because this post started to get quite long, I’ve split it into two parts – the second of which will air tomorrow. And in the comments, would you mind telling me – where are your favourite BC Destinations? I need to add more possibilities to my list!

Where to go? Destinations 1-5

The mighty Mount Flores as seen from Cow Bay.

Flores Island: Just a 45-minute water taxi from Tofino (west coast of Vancouver Island), you will find the island that time forgot. 16,000 hectares of old-growth forest, white sand beaches, and often (during the week especially no one else in sight once you leave the village of Ahousat. This rates as the best camping trip I have ever done, and while we hiked the wild side trail, you can also kayak into Cow Bay or charter a boat directly into prime camping spots that straddle the forest and the beach. In five days (Mon-Friday) Brian and I saw a total of three people up close. It’s also where we decided to get married. Check out my travelogue here, and my flickr set here. More info on the Wild Side Trail here.
Tags: hiking, camping, backpacking, wildlife viewing, kayaking

Ladyslipper Lake – cold as hell but the biggest trout I’ve ever seen.

Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park: We liked this trip so much we did it two years in a row, though after last year’s early July experience I would definitely recommend going later in the season rather than earlier. Cathedral Lakes PP Core Area is reached either by hiking in on 16 km of trail and logging road, or you can catch a ride with the Cathedral Lakes Lodge Unimog three times a day (round trip costs $100 per adult and must be pre-booked). The hiking up there is unparallelled and if you have two days of hiking I would recommend the Rim trail as well as the Goat Lake trail (this one is really overlooked, but takes you into a spectacular lake basin). There are three walk-in campgrounds on lakes quite close to the lodge drop-off point and several back-country camping areas in the park. But if you don’t want to camp? I notice that the Lodge has a great deal on their new kitchenette cabins if you book before July 1st. Stay in a cabin, and experience some of the best hiking in the world? Sounds pretty good to me! (Note, the wildflower season in August is so beautiful it will make you weep for the joy of it all). Interested in more? Please see my travelogue here. And my flickr sets from year one and year two here.
Tags: hiking, camping, backpacking, wildlife viewing, fishing

Trees reflected in the Walbran’s Hadikin Lake

Carmanah Valley/Walbran: Better known than the above two places because of epic logging fights in the eighties, I can honestly say that the Carmanah Valley changed my life at the age of sixteen. This place was my introduction to both the horror of industrial forestry, as well as the deep magic of BC’s old growth. As a result of that battle for some of the last of the island’s old growth, a provincial park was established in the heart of the valley a number of years ago. While I can not speak to the park facilities (I have never camped in any of the walk in areas), I do know that this is place most people fall deeply in love with as the primeval forest is still alive and well here (despite the massive cutting that has taken place around it). Hiking trails are rough, and you can hike from the valley out to the west coast of the island and hook up with the West Coast Trail.
Tags: hiking, camping, backpacking, wildlife viewing

Hurley River FSR: I have to admit that I have only driven the Hurley River Forest Service Road in its entirety one time – but the trip was so strange and magnificent that I have long wanted to do it again. Hurley Creek FSR connects Pemberton and Lillooet on one side as Duffy Lake Road does on the other (See a loop tour suggestion that takes you over both roads here). Though one of the road’s highlights – Meager Creek hotsprings – was shut by a mudslide a couple of years ago, there are still other hotsprings to be discovered, plus the mining towns of Bralorne and Gold Bridge, and the new South Chilcotin Provincial Park (established in 2010) along the way. Mining resumed in Bralorne last year, so I expect it is less ghosty than it was a decade ago when I was last through. This is definitely an area worth taking some time in – for camping, hunting, fishing, ghost towns, and hiking opportunities abound (plus a bunch of really weird history). It’s really worth checking out this strange meander into the backwoods of BC’s history, and those roads are damned fun to drive!
Tags: Road trip, historic sites, wildlife, hunting, fishing, camping

Keremeos (and Hedley): Probably not on my top eleven as stand-alone places to visit but we drive to or through here every summer just the same. Why is that? Cheap fruit! Keremeos is probably the cheapest place to buy in-season produce for canning that I know of, and at only five hours from Vancouver this is feasibly a day trip – though we frequently just tack it on to another holiday (as we will this year on our way back from Wells Gray). While Keremeos has fruit going for it, the ex-mining town of Hedley is just all kinds of weird. Despite being a bit of a ramshackle town, it’s got a great restaurant – The Hitching Post which is where we usually eat. It’s also got this slightly odd (but kinda cool) black light museum which someone has posted a video of on YouTube here:


Having been to the blacklight museum a couple of years ago, I will tell you that this video is very representative of the experience. And also, there is no sign for the museum, you just have to track Rod down.
Tags: Road trip, historic sites, wildlife, camping, bed and breakfasting, food touring

Stay-tuned tomorrow for destinations 6-11 to wet your travelling whistle!