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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Gold Creek Coincidence

While I wait for the BC election results, here are some pics from a beautiful hike along Gold Creek in Golden Ears Provincial Park on Sunday.

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Cool story: After we saw the waterfall, the Artist and I ate lunch on a stretch of beach below the main trail and stayed there for a while so he could fly fish and I could read. Out of the bushes, bounding towards us from the main trail was a dog that looked an awful lot like Scarlett, my brother and sister-in-law’s Nova Scotia Duck Toller. She was the very definition of a happy dog with her wagging tail and allowed me to pet her for a second before bounding right back up the path to her owner(s). I was pretty sure it was Scarlett though the Artist highly doubted the probability of it. We went on with our fishing and reading. But later that afternoon, back at the parking lot, we saw my brother and sister-in-law and turns out it was Scarlett! Since we had been completely invisible from the path, she must have sniffed us out with that impressive nose of hers. Needless to say, that canine encounter made my day!

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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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Snow on Seymour

Unlike this weekend, last weekend was crisp and clear and beautiful. The Artist and I went to Mount Seymour to get our first glimpse of the fluffy white stuff.

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It was my first winter hike and I’m glad I had on a pair of good hiking boots for it!

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These little grey jays, or whiskey jacks as they are often called, were a common sight along the trail. Not shy at all. (Nevertheless, I was still pretty thrilled one landed on my hand).

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We climbed about halfway to the first peak so we could get this view of Vancouver rising through the fog.

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The sun was out and it felt great to be enjoying the outdoors on the last weekend of November.

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On the way down, we stumbled upon these folks with their makeshift toboggan run. The Artist gave it a go while I carried our backpacks down.

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A few slips and tumbles later, we made it back to the car and warmed up with hot drinks and an oh-my-gosh-I-cannot-believe-how-good-this-book-is book at Andrews on Eighth that I will blog about next week, so stay tuned!

 

A Half-Hearted Pilgrim

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“When Cheryl Strayed reaches Ashland, Oregon, she meets a woman who admires her for traveling ‘the pilgrim way.’ That’s when it dawned on me that Wild is a modern-day pilgrim story, but with a twist.”

To know more about this crazy twist (I exaggerate slightly), I’m going to send you to The Curator to read my full response to Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild.

The Mountain and the Valley: Pemberton Weekend

No, this isn’t a post about the Canadian novel of the same name by Ernest Buckler, one of my all-time favourites.

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I borrowed the title to show pics of a weekend spent in Pemberton this month, hiking the rainy heights of Joffre Lakes and biking the flat streets of Pemberton Valley for their annual Slow Food Cycle.

Joffre Lakes

This hike rewards you with 3 beautiful lakes along the way—Lower, Middle, and Upper lakes, fed by glacier runoff. You see the Lower one right away, which is always nice to have a view for motivation early in the hike.

Lower Joffre Lake.

Lower Joffre Lake

Walking into the mystic vale

Walking into the mystic vale

As you can tell from these pictures, we chose one of the rainiest days this summer to do the hike. But the mist added its own beauty to it. I was thankful the fog started clearing by the time we arrived at the Middle Lake so we could get this mysterious view.

The Middle Joffre Lake ghosting into view

The Middle Joffre Lake ghosting into view

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The longest stretch of the hike is from the Middle Lake to the Upper one, but even then, I was surprised at how quick it was. The hike took us about 3.5 hours in total. Much easier of a climb than Garibaldi. We didn’t stay too long at the top because we were cold and wet, but we could see the outline of the glacier behind, and it made me eager to return here on a brighter day to see it in all its alpine glory.

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Upper Joffre Lake with glacier

Slow Food Cycle

I was thankful the hike wasn’t more strenuous because the next day, we did a 20K bike ride along Pemberton Meadows Road, stopping at various farms to enjoy local food as part of Pemberton’s 11th annual Slow Food Cycle.

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One of the stops

Stopping for lunch at one of the farms

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Here’s a video that explains more about it:

What a fun way to spend a Sunday, biking in the lap of majestic mountains and enjoying produce fresh off a farm. Such a different experience than I’ve ever had biking in the city! I think I’ll be back to do this again one summer.