I’ll just start by saying that I have tent and backpacking bits and pieces strewn all over the laundry room and spilling into other parts of the house, including my bedroom. All those bits, especially the tent parts, are dripping copiously on the floor.
So this may sound like the beginning of a disaster camping story: nothing of the sort. It was wonderful and I loved every bit of it, including listening to the rain on the fly as I lay cozily in my sleeping bag. Well, maybe not the part where I slipped on some roots and went down on my ass – and had to have Angie’s help in getting me back on my feet – but other than that – brilliant!
We set off very early Friday morning (6. a.m.). There were four of us: Wendy, Kelly, Angie and I. I had never met any of them before and I’m pleased to say that I think I’ve made three wonderful new friends/hiking buddies. Super women!
We got to the trailhead at 9 a.m. and started up. We kept hoping the clouds might clear, but they were hunkered down pretty low. It drizzled on and off, meaning pack covers came out and rain jackets, even though it was much too warm to hike in a jacket. Some of us chose to get wet instead. Well, why not? It was either damp from sweat or water. Water seemed a sensible choice.
We slogged up and arrived at Bedwell Lake at about noon to set up our tents. I kept trying to tell the girls that yes, there were mountains up there. At the viewpoint, I did my best to describe Tom Taylor and Big Interior and what we might have been seeing. They nodded patiently and let my prattle on. I think they decided to come back on a sunny day and see if I was really telling the truth.
So – camp set up, lunch devoured, we started out for Cream Lake at about 1 p.m. The varying terrain up there is amazing: everything from sub-alpine to boulder fields, shale climbs, tarns and semi-moonscapes. On and up and up and on, past Little Jim Lake, which was almost invisible in the persistent cloud. Then, just as Cream Lake was about to come into view (hopefully), the clouds broke and glimmers of sun came through!
And then, there it was: mind bogglingly beautiful. The best reward possible! And we saw the mountains towering over the lake, the pure colour of cyan. I felt immensely blessed that on a day like this (which included heavy, cold wind at times), we were so rewarded. Our first instinct was to simply stay at the viewpoint and enjoy. But then, heck, I thought, it’s not that far down to the lake – let’s do it! How can we possibly say we went to Cream Lake if we didn’t end up right at the edge?
Down we went and found warm rocks to sit on and eat snacks. (chocolate for me of course)
This is why I hike – to get this close to heaven!
And then, the trip back to camp. By the time we got back – close to 7 p.m. – it had started raining a bit harder. We thought it would be a great idea if the parks people put up a simply shelter (just a roof, really) at these designated campsites. If we’d had that, we could have cooked our meals communally and enjoyed some time together. As it was we went directly to the food cache, huddled in our individual tents, cooked, ate and rolled ourselves into our sleeping bags by 8 p.m.
I had a wonderful sleep. I was feeling incredibly blessed. I listened to the rain, hard at times, while I was snug and dry in my sleeping bag. Yes, I had a whole bunch of wet clothes but I had dry socks and underwear and warm clothing – what more could I ask for?
At six I was wide awake. It was raining pretty hard. No nonsense about going down to the lake to wash – nope. I headed for the food cache, got everyone’s bags, woke them up, cooked the best camp breakfast ever (oats, lots of dried fruit and almonds) and started packing up. Angie helped with my tent and by 7 a.m. we were on our way back down the trail. It rained relentlessly. Yes, we were wet. But there was also something Zen-like and wonderful about focussing 100 per cent on where to put our feet next on the slippery rocks and roots. At 10 we were back at the truck. Getting inside that warmth felt miraculously good.
What I loved about this bad weather hike: that I loved it regardless – and I now know that I can do bad weather and still be a happy camper (literally)!
I also loved the company. These women were amazing! Loved Angie! I’ll hike with her any time and anywhere.