End of Summer at Ross Lake

I almost don’t want to write about where my husband and I camped this long weekend for fear of exposing this hidden gem to the masses (not that there are tons of people who read my blog, but still).

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When we broached the idea of one last camping trip before summer’s end, I remember a friend mentioning Ross Lake in Skagit Valley Provincial Park (near Hope) where campsites are first come, first serve (which is great because all the other local provincial parks that accept reservations were unsurprisingly full).

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We assume most people take Fridays before a long weekend off so they can get a head start on the R&R, but that was not the case with us. We figured if we left early Saturday morning from Vancouver, we could still have a chance of snagging a spot. We decided to take the risk.

It paid off.

We arrived around 10:30am after travelling what seeemed like forever down the bumpy and dusty Silver Skagit Road leading to the northern tip of Ross Lake, where the campground is.

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A suspension bridge along Silver Skagit Road. Hubby likes to fish under here.

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Very proud of his rainbow trout that he wanted a pic of before he released back into the Skagit.

The coveted spots along the lake were taken but there were plenty on the inside up for grabs. This was a beautiful long weekend of summer. Where was everyone? Do people not know about this place or does it have something to do with the mosquitoes? THEY ARE RELENTLESS. Even with bug spray, my husband and I have too many bites to count. We saw many families with see-through net shelters erected around picnic tables, which was a smart move. The mosquitoes are far worse at the campsite so we spent almost all our time at the lake.

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Ross Lake straddles the US/Canada border with just the northern tip reaching into Canada. Thanks to this article in the Georgia Straight, I learned it’s only available for camping on the BC side during the summer months when the water levels are at their highest. Here’s a helpful map.

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I loved venturing out in an inflatable kayak we got to borrow for the summer and paddling into the States and around the marshes where Canada geese like to hang out. See the swath of land cut out of the mountain in the photo below? That’s the border line. Fortunately no passport required for this crossing.

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There’s a dirt road that leads from Ross Lake campground to its counterpart on the American side, Hozomeen campground. A perfect place to camp for a Canadian-American couple, ha!

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I was craving a last lake swim and got plenty of opportunities, as well as some quiet reading and writing time too. Goodbye summer, September here we come.

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Hope all of your Labour Day weekends were restful and rejuvenating. What did you get up to?

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Happy Campers in Manning

Last weekend, my husband and I camped with my sis and her family for the first time at Manning Park in the Cascade Mountains. From Vancouver, it’s only about a 3 hour drive—not far for a beautiful and, in my opinion, underrated provincial park.

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Gorgeous view of the Cascade Mountains and Lightning Lake

We loved it. We were too late in booking to get the prime camping real estate on Lightning Lake, but we still enjoyed Hampton Campground further east along the highway near the Similkameen River. You hear traffic noise at night but it’s not too bad, and it’s only a few minutes drive to Lightning Lake which is where we spent most of our time.

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Lightning Lakes is a chain of four lakes that comprise the main recreational area of Manning Park. Lightning Lake is the biggest and furthest north, and then the lakes are subsequently named Flash, Strike, and Thunder. Lightning Lake is the most accessible since there’s a parking lot right beside it. The other lakes you have to hike or kayak/canoe into (which I’d love to do one day!)

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We had beautiful weather. The lake was refreshing but a little harder to get into than expected because of the wind. We had heard about a bridge that spans the narrows of Lightning Lake called “Rainbow Bridge” so we walked around searching for it.

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My four-year-old niece’s favourite colour right now is rainbow so it provided extra incentive to find it even though we took the very long way around to get to it (oops!) But we saw some awesome scenery along the way.

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Once at the bridge, many swimmers climbed its wooden rafters to jump off (husband and brother-in-law included).

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We finished the weekend with a long, windy drive up to the Cascade Lookout. Stunning! You can see Lightning Lake in the far distance.

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Pointing out the different peaks

We continued driving even further up the mountain until the trees thinned out and we reached the subalpine meadow. We followed Paintbrush Trail for a bit before descending again.

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It was a fun weekend filled with lots of laughter, water, and family time. I’ll end with a shot of my husband and brother-in-law fishing the Similkameen River, and my niece checking out their catch before falling in!

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Roughing it in the Bush

My last post was from a book I read right before going on a camping trip and, seeing that I have very little experience camping myself, it tickled my funny bone.

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Fortunately my experience camping 5 nights in Jasper National Park was much, much better than Elfrieda’s in All My Puny Sorrows. This massive park in Alberta offers breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies, along with countless glacier-fed rivers and lakes. Every bend in the road offers yet another magnificent photo op, making even a mediocre photographer’s work look golden.

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One of my favourite lakes – Medicine Lake

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Our group camped in Wabasso campground which had proper washrooms but no showers, so I had to shower in rivers and lakes for the first time. Seeing that they’re glacier-fed, these were the coldest showers I’d ever had but luckily we had great weather so the dip wasn’t as shocking as it could have been.

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Maligne Lake is popular for canoe and kayak rentals. I swam instead.

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View from my spot in Maligne Lake

My biggest fear was encountering bears. I soon had to get over that because literally less than five minutes into arriving in the park, we see a bear on the side of the road and then when we get to our campsite, the person signing us in says, “Just to warn you, there are a lot of bears here.” I almost had a panic attack but thank God the only ones we saw were from the side of the road, and they didn’t visit me in nightmares either (which did happen the other time I went camping).

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Anyone know what kind of bear this is?

The gigantic river that runs through a large part of the park is the Athabasca River. Our campsite backed onto it and it became the evening lullaby that replaced the sirens and traffic I am used to in Vancouver.

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morning mist on the Athabasca

Given the Artist likes to fly fish, we found a few rivers for him to cast a line while I sat on the side and read. (He didn’t catch much, but any day where he’s in a river is a good day for him).

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Maligne River between Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake

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Fiddle River near the entrance/exit of the park on the Alberta side

We did a lot of driving in our little Toyota Yaris that clocked the longest trip of its life. In particular, we wanted to drive the Icefields Parkway that leads to the stunning Athabasca Glacier and Columbia Icefields and continues on to Banff National Park. The route is renowned for being one of the most scenic drives in the world. I’d have to agree.

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The Endless Chain ridge

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One of the glaciers on the approach to Athabasca Glacier

Stunning waterfalls are also part of the route:

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The mist coming off the powerful Athabasca Falls creates this low-hanging rainbow

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Sunwapta Falls

The Athabasca Glacier used to extend much closer to the highway but has receded dramatically over the past 125 years. This is the “toe of the glacier”, the furthest point you can walk to if you’re not on a guided tour that actually takes you on the ice.

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Athabasca Glacier

We also climbed a bit of Mount Edith Cavell, a very recognizable peak with its stripes of snow, named after an English nurse who was executed by the Germans during WWI.

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A view of Angel Glacier and its pond at Edith Cavell

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Looking back along the Edith Cavell hike

Some other wildlife we saw:

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By the end of our stay, I was saturated with campfire smell that took at least three real showers to remove, but I felt rather proud of myself for roughing it in the bush for multiple days and for enjoying it, too! I may have been deprived of camping as a child but who’s to say I can’t learn to like it as an adult?

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