The return of the fall camping trip.
at Lightning Lakes
It used to be that, as a group, we had one
together a year - a camping trip on the labour day weekend. The
first one to Princess Margaret
(1992) had probably 8 people at it. Our
second trip was to Goldstream (1993 - no known photos - perhaps 6
people), our next wasn't until Strathcona
in 1996, again with 8 people. In 1997, six of us went to Manning Park
(my first trip with a
real camera). Sept 1998 saw six of us on a trip to Horne Lake
and in 1999 nine of
us did a bike/car trip to Pender Island
For the following 6 years, we didn't really have a Labour Day camping
trip. This year, I had some time to plan and floated the
idea of a camping trip. I had to book additional camp sites to
accommodate the response - 14 people wanted to go and 11 actually made
it in the end. We were in for a good time.
With 11 people going, it's hard to do a lot
things. We needed a total of 4 vehicles to accommodate different
needing to arrive and leave at different times. The night before
we left, I went around and picked up gear to lighten the load on the
other vehicles. I wound up with a very packed car! Helen,
Mark and I were in the first vehicle out (arriving around noon) so we
had to look out for our own lunch. After some preliminary setup,
Sean and Catherine arrived and we went our first adventure.
As we drove up the Fraser valley, we noticed
particularly clear but that's not exceptional for the higher end of the
valley. As we got around hope and started heading up into the
pass, I noticed the haze actually got worse. Turns out the big
forest fire burning just over the border with the US was sending much
of it's smoke North and our valley was taking quite a bit of
it. While it is hard on the nose and eyes, it made
for a lovely soft fog look to much of the weekends
photography. We went out for a hike around Flash lake.
It's been a long dry summer so I wasn't
see much for flowers at this low altitude. There were some
berries (we had a good lot of salmon berries) and rarely a flower but
most plants were in the "wilting" stage.
Using the smoke to photographic effect proved
to be a bit of a
challenge. While the human eye will often pick up the subtle
changes in contrast that you see in "God Rays", cameras have a harder
time showing the effect. That said, the hazed out backgrounds
makes it easier to concentrate on the subject in panoramas.
To be honest, one of my biggest concerns was food. Feeding 11
people from camp stoves, outdoors is potentially quite a problem.
We spent (I thought) quite a bit of time scrubbing the menu and things
worked out pretty well. What did surprise me was the sheer
ammount of fuel we went through - probably close to 6 liters of fuel
for the weekend.
The Lighting lakes camp ground isn't exactly
wilderness camping - there are flush toilets, warm showers (free even),
camp fire pits (and we weren't in a fire ban even though the place was
tinder dry) and the BC Parks trademark "hard as rock because it is
rock" camping pads. That said, we did have visitors on the weekend
who were looking for hand outs or to be just left alone.
to Buckhorn Camp
So what do you to with a long weekend in Manning Park?
I've been hiking in the meadows at
before and I was amazed to see how dead the meadows are at
this time of the year. It's been a long hot summer and the
meadows are hurting for water - almost without exception, the flowers
are gone. The difference between here and Garibaldi two weeks earlier
My theory was that we were going for a walk
close alpine trails (perhaps 3 to 5km) but everyone seemed keen on a
longer hike so we packed the sandwiches and walked out Buckhorn camp -
perhaps 5km from the car park.
Depending on which side of the mountain the
local shade of the trees we
would sometimes find valleys with flowers. This area is sub alpine
- we would need to go higher to hit true moonscape alpine.
In fairly reasonable time (it was downhill) we
to the tent pads at Buckhorn camp. This camp site doesn't have a
good water supply (as Sean and Jesse once discovered) so were well
prepared and brought a good supply of water. Karen quickly
discovered that the Grey Jays (Whiskey Jack's) were quite hungry and
would take offerings placed on other peoples hats. That game went
on for a while.
Canoe around the Lakes
Hiking up hill back is kind of strange (there are few hikes in BC like
that) but we made it back to the parking lot (hot) and were glad for
the air conditioning in the car for the ride back to camp.
Last time we came to Manning (I believe some of us were still in
school) we camped at Mule Deer camp site and didn't really dig into the
lightning lakes area until our last day. On several trips since,
I've seen the Canoe rental place (and Canoe's scattered around the
lake) so this time we decided to rent canoe's ourselves. The
place didn't flinch when we wanted 5 canoe's - I believe their fleet of
canoes could probably stretch end to end from one side of the lake to
The camp fire smoke was back so any view was abbreviated.
It didn't make for good Canoeing, but it makes for great photography -
most of the scenes have a warm tone and foggy backgrounds. We
didn't have much of a plan, but we did Canoe pretty much as far as we
could and then perhaps a little bit further. Sean suggested a
mear 500m portage but Helen's eye's told me that wasn't going to happen.
Game of Bocce
The smoke didn't make for the most enjoyable time - after two hours we
were happy to return the boats and persue something a little less
Jesse brought a Bocce ball set and we made out like Italian Senior
citizens. We transfered the "drinks" into plastic cups and played
a bunch of games on the field next to our camp site. The game is
quite fun - not very intense with plenty of opportunities to
at the Lookout
I don't think we have any idea who actually won, but that's kind of the
point isn't it?
One of my favorite parts of Manning Park is
the road up to the
meadows. As I understand it, the road was built for the BC Hydro
signal towers and it's just convenient that they are located in
beautiful meadows. On two nights we drove up to the look out to
watch the sunset. I was expecting the forest fires to lead to
beautiful sunsets and I wasn't exactly disappointed, but I still didn't
get what I was looking for.
To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure how to take a good photo of
sunset. Generally, I like to use the orange light to warm up
other objects, but just shooting a sunset without recognizable
foreground elements is actually kind of boring.
I was really hoping this sunset light would do
more with the particle
filled air - I was hoping for some massive display of god rays or
something else massive. With the sun setting behind mountains, my
dreams didn't really come true - more of a whimper. That said,
there was still some nice things to see at sunset.
When you are back country camping, everything
and you try to be frugal - batteries, jackets, entertainment and just
being tired all push toward going to bed shortly after the sun goes
down. With car camping you have full sized lanterns, hot
chocolate, board games and the fun of each others company - you can
last a while longer.
Eric brought a travel scrabble set so one night a few
people sat around and argued about how probability had cramped there
And eventually, all good things must end.
Monday morning we packed up (better than we usually
do) and by 10am we on the road back to Vancouver. Sean and
Catherine, Bob and Andrea had left the evening before so we were down
to 2 vehicles and 7 people. Before we drove all the way back to
Vancouver we decided to stop in at the Othello Tunnels just outside of
I've been to the Othello Tunnels a number of times before but most
recently they have been closed
. What I read on the internet led me to believe
they were now open so we decided to stop on the way home to check it
The tunnels are indeed open - and quite busy. The upgrades seem
to be a retaining walls and possibly scaling on the rocks to get the
loose material out of the way. (There were moss lines on the rock
that had no reason to be there). The walk is quite nice - the
tunnel sections and bridge sections are in good repair and the contrast
of the dark and the bright sunshine is cool to try and photograph.
After our walk we had lunch at the picnic tables (unfortunately right in
the middle of the parking lot - no view at all) and commenced the two
plus hour drive back to Vancouver. It was a great weekend -
Tags: bird(6), canoeing(5), camping(5), sunset(4), alpine(4), smoke(4)
People: Mark(7), Helen(7), Eric(6), Jesse(6), Jin(5), John(3)
From: John Harvey Photo > John Harvey Photo - Camping > Manning Camping
From: John Harvey Photo > Manning Camping
Nice to read about your camping adventures. You also have some great photos as well as good "memory snaps"
We were just up at Buckhorn camp this past weekend. Perhaps one day we'll run into each other!
Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 01:14:54 Edit
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