Cathedral Provincial Park (Oct 3-7, 2018)

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Conditions: camping
Gear: overnight gear (cold weather gear)
Area: Cathedral Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada
Reference: n/a
Stats: 17mi, 5715 gain (all days)

Wow...what a trip!

Jim sent out an email inquiry weeks back to gauge interest in another golden larch trip. Jim suggested a heaving camping trip up to Cathedral Provincial Park in BC. I knew I was in but wanted to check with Steve. I knew he'd love the area. I talked to him and he put in for time of. Bingo! Time for another fun larch trip!

The weather a couple of weeks out looked generally good (cold at the start and end with a bit of warm in the middle). As the trip date approached the "bad" weather settled in a some people bailed. A last check of the weather showed mostly dry, some clouds, and cold (right about freezing). So this was a heavy camping trip. We would take the shuttle (reservations made through Cathedral Lakes Lodge) which saved us about 10 miles and 4000' gain just getting into camp. We could take up two large pieces of "luggage" and something small for our laps so there was no need to sacrifice comfort. We packed plenty of warm clothes, good food, chairs, and lots of creature comforts for camp. The original plan was to camp at Lake of the Woods but these had no bear boxes and campfires were not allowed. A last minute change to camping at Quiniscoe Lk where campfires were allowed was perfect. It ended up being a fantastic plan because we didn't have to carry the heavy stuff far, and it was within minutes of the warm fire inside the lodge itself.

Day 1: Wednesday, October 3rd

Today was a driving day, about 6 hours. I didn't want to run the risk of missing the shuttle so my plan was to arrive at the gated parking area 30 minutes early. We crossed into Canada at Sumas. Not only is it a more direct route, the lines are usually a fraction of what they are at the main crossing at Blaine.  From Sumas is was BC-1 to BC3 and then a right turn onto Ashnola River Road (can't miss the turnoff since there is a big red covered bridge) and then a holding area at the gated lot to Cathedral Lakes Lodge. We were the first to arrive, then Kevin and Maria, and finally Jim, Eileen, and Fay. The gate was opened, we moved out cars into the secure lot, and somehow managed to stuff all our heavy camping gear and 7 people into one Suburban. Wow.

After loading up the car we did the one hour shuttle ride (well worth the CA$105) up to the lodge. It saved about 10 miles and 4000'. We arrived at the lodge, unpacked the gear, and walked the few minutes to a knoll along Quiniscoe Lk and started setting up all our tents.

Several in the group decided to venture out and explore some of the nearby trails. Kevin and I had both brought fishing gear (we got fishing licenses before arriving at the park) so we headed down to the lake to take a stab at fishing. Kevin and Maria quickly caught 4 fish. I wasn't so lucky. I fumbled with my setup and couldn't seem to remember how to cast. With some help from Steve I finally figured it out but it was too fish. We all headed back to camp for a late dinner and after that sitting next to the campfire catching up on news. Then...time for bed.
Arrival Day Slideshow

overview_map core_map trails_map
(click on map to view a larger version)

lakeview_mtn_coverConditions: camping/dayhike
Gear: overnight gear (cold weather gear)
Area: Cathedral Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada
Reference: n/a
Stats: 9.7mi, 3222' gain (for the loop)

Day 2: Thursday, October 4th

No one was in any rush to get up in the morning. It was cold. Sometime around 8am the group assembled for lunch and we decided to head up Lakeview Mountain (east of Quiniscoe Lk). We left camp about 9:30am. It was a somewhat open forested hike first to Lake of the Woods (a beautiful lake), a short side trip over to Pyramid Lk to take a look, and then about a 600' descent down to Lakeview Creek. After crossing the creek we then headed up hill following the trail...and some large cat we slowly climbed toward the summit ridge. It was pretty interesting how long that cat, turns out it was likely Lynx tracks, followed the trail. The cat went nearly to the ridge!

As we continued uphill the green trees transitioned to larch. They weren't quite peak gold, we likely missed peak color by a few days. They were still very colorful. At about 7200'  (2hr from camp) we popped out of the trees and could clearly see how Lakeview Mtn got its name. We were almost above the larches so we decided to drop our packs, get something to eat, and refill water bottles.

As we continued up, it seemed like the mountain just got bigger. There weren't any trees higher up so it was hard to judge scale. It seemed like it took forever to get to the ridge and then once there the summit felt like it kept moving away from us. Even though it was further off than it seemed it was really pleasant travel. We finally reached the top (8622') sometime around 2:30pm (about 5hr from camp). We bundled up and spent plenty of time enjoying the summit. The views into the Cathedral Lakes area of Washington were incredible. Very interesting to see familiar peaks from such an unfamiliar perspective (Amphitheatre, Remmel, Cathedral,, Wolframite).

Eventually it was time to head down. Our plan was a large loop so we headed off the summit to the south towards Boxcar Mtn. We followed a well cairned route down to the saddle between Lakeview and Boxcar and then descended down into a spectacular grove of larges and we headed down to Goat Lake. The descent was amazing, the larches spectacular, and no one was in a rush to do a quick descent. We reached Goat Lake, took more photos, and then followed the Lakeview Trail again back to the junction where we crossed it earlier in the day. Once back at the junction we had that 600' to gain back. Kevin raced on ahead of the rest of us so that he could get a campfire going (yeah). Once back up the "hill" we took a direct route back to our campsite (bypassing Lake of the Woods).
Lakeview Mtn Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

Day 3: Friday, October 5th

I wanted to give my knees a break. My plan all along was to hike on Wed and Fri with Thursday being a knee rest day. It worked out well. I'd been struggling falling asleep so after breakfast and after nearly everyone else left camp (Maria stayed behind as well), I headed back to the tent to see if I could manage some sleep. I did get about an hour of sleep so some success. Steve had headed off with the rest of the group (heading up to Glacier Lk, Quiniscoe Mtn, Red Mtn) but turned around above Glacier Lk. When he got back to camp we headed off the warmth of the lodge. We plopped ourselves in front of the large fireplace and he got some work done while I relaxed. The rest of the group met up with us in the lodge later in the evening and we stayed until the lodge was setting up for dinner. We then headed back to camp for our own dinner, campfire time, and then tent time.
Lodge Day Slideshow

cathedral_ridge_coverConditions: camping/dayhike
Gear: overnight gear (cold weather gear)
Area: Cathedral Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada
Reference: n/a
Stats: 7.3mi, 2493' gain (for the loop)

Day 4: Saturday, October 6th

Today the plan was to head back up to Glacier Lake then then further up to Cathedral Ridge for another scenic hike. It was another cold night so we again weren't in a rush to get up. The group had been up to Glacier Lk yesterday and raved about the larches along the way. They were all excited for Maria and I to see the color and the lake.

It's a short climb up to Glacier Lk from our camp, about 550'. The golden larches heading up to the lake were full of color and that alone made a great trip. At the far side of the lake the trail then headed moderately uphill to the Rim Trail at the top of Cathedral Ridge. The views were just as good as the trip up Lakeview. There seemed a bit more snow than two days prior but nothing ever too deep. We reached the ridge and headed left (southeast).

Fay headed off to scramble to the summit of Pyramid Mtn while the rest of us headed to our first stop......Devils Woodpile. This was interesting...warped columnar basalt that was near vertical in some places and stacked horizontal in others. One small point along the ridge was the horizontal stack of basalt that literally looked like a massive stack of firewood.

From Devils Woodpile we continued along the ridge towards Stone City Mtn (8530'). This was an interesting stop along the ridge, the rock (crumbling granite) had a look of the US Southwest about it, except it Canada. Strange rock formations, bumps, spires, towers... Kevin, Maria, and I hung behind while the rest of the group headed off to check out The Cleft, Smokey the Bear, and Mt Grimface. We thought we'd wait for them but then the wind kicked up and I got chilled. I mentioned heading down and Kevin and Maria agreed. It was a spectacular descent down the scenic narrow ridge  that took us down towards Ladyslipper Lake.

We all agreed that Ladyslipper Lk was the most scenic of all the lakes we visited. In the late afternoon light the larches left a golden shimmer on the surface of the lake. The trail followed the very edge of the eastern side of the lake before it went over a bit of a bump and then rounded Pyramid Lk and we were back in camp...before dark. We took bets how long it would be before the rest of the group got back. Steve and Fay arrived 20 minutes after us and were soon followed by Jim and Eileen. Everyone made it back before dark.

It was another nice night around the campfire.
Cathedral Ridge Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

Day 5: Sunday, October 7th

Morning arrived soon enough. We were up early since we needed to have everything packed for the 9am shuttle down to base camp. The shuttle was full on the ride up but there were now 10 people headed down (us plus another group of 3). The lodge was closing for the season tomorrow (Monday) so lots of people were headed out. Two shuttles were planned to take us down but the driver couldn't get one started. Kevin and Maria agreed to take a later shuttle (they got a free breakfast at the lodge as compensation) and the 8 of us then pack ourselves and our gear into one Suburban for the drive down. Let's just say it was tight...really tight.

We got back to base camp, loaded our car up with our gear and headed out. About 30 minutes out of base camp it dawned on Steve that he didn't have his phone. Yikes. We headed back to base camp (it wasn't that far back) and Steve climbed the locked gate and thankfully the shuttle was still there...and his phone tucked under the middle seat. He got lucky! Then it was time for the long drive home. It rained nearly the whole way home so it looks like we left the high country just in time.
Departure Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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