Cathedral Road Trip
Go stand on a mountain for Canada Day
If you look at my pay check now you will see some 40
days of vacation that I haven't taken. It's summer,
beautiful, and not to be missed. I wanted to do something for the
Canada long weekend so I devised a little road trip.
My goal was to go hiking in Cathedral Provincial Park on Canada day,
but being 4 hours from Vancouver (in good traffic), I had to go at
least a day before.
I left Wednesday around lunch time (after picking up some last minute
supplies) and drove out to one of my favorite parks - Manning.
Manning is about 2.5 hours east of Vancouver (often much longer because
of bad traffic). I got a camp site at Lighting Lakes (they have
warm showers) and found out that I could only reserve Wednesday night -
every other night of the weekend had been booked.
My favorite part
of Manning is the meadows you can
drive up to. The meadows aren't truly alpine - you're not
actually above the tree line - but it's close enough to be cool.
I was right at the
end of Glacier Lily season - they
aren't as thick as other places, but they were still fairly
common. They are quite a delicate plant that loves to blow in the
wind so you they can be a pain to capture on film.
I've been up enough times that I've seen most of what you see up there,
but there are always new ways to see such beautiful
things. As far as I can tell, there are really two
challenges in photography - first, capturing the wonderment of what
you see the first time and second, learning to see past what you have
seen before to find new wonders. These lead to the third
challenge - trying to get past that nagging sense of plagiarism - if
of others, then of ones self.
So I was quite surprised to find that the ride down
was actually quite photogenic. The road side is unique in a few
ways - it has open light and disturbed soil (read ditches) - but also
totally accessible. But again, that nagging sense of following in
your own foot steps (and doing it poorly) comes back to haunt
you. Consider for a moment the Tiger Lilies - the first time I took a snap of
, I probably took the best picture of a tiger lily I ever
will. Every future picture will be at best second.
Ah - but it gets worse. Consider for a moment the plight of the
Cascade Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel. This little squirrel
lives on the hand outs at a pull out at the top of a hill. He is
so well trained, he runs up once, makes an assessment of your
generosity, and then scurries away if you aren't bearing gifts.
I've snapped before
the Tiger Lily, I'm not showing any improvement.
Could it get any
worse? Surprisingly yes.
Turns out a good part of photography is opportunity. The last
time I came down from Manning I saw a Blue Grouse
- a rare sighting
that was lots of fun (and I really wished I could change film speed
like I can on my digital). This time? How about a Mule Deer
- that's pretty common, especially for BC Parks.
So we have lousy copy plagiarism, and lack of opportunities.
anything else go wrong? Undoubthly yes. Mix in use of wiz
bang technology (any want to make Panorama's? The software for
that is pretty good now - I'm using Hugin on my Mac and happy for
it. Anything else? I looked at the back of my car
when I got out at the end of the day and noticed my insurance had
expired two days before - and I won't be going through any towns large
enough to have an insurance agent for a few more. Cool.
On the plus side, they do have warm showers.
It's now Thursday
- the great unwashed hordes of
Vancouver are about to descend on everything that isn't
Vancouver. I checked out of my pad and booted it up the highway
to Cathedral Park and securing a fine camping spot. We are
now in a distinctly different weather zone than the coast - it's
drier and the plants have changed.
I had a few ideas of today. First, I drove into Osoyoos and got
my insurance extended. I checked out spotted lake - a salt lake
just outside of town - unlike last fall
water levels were quite high and there with the lighting, I couldn't
find a compelling image. Next on the list was the drive up to
Mount Kobau. At one point the government considered putting
telescopes up here. It went south - literally - Canada's telescope dollars
go to places like Hawaii
and Chile. Oh well, at least we got
a nice road to nearly alpine.
My expectations weren't high coming up here, but I did discover a few
things. First, the plants are definitly different. While
there are some similar plants (paintbrush was common as was lupin),
there were a number of new plants.
Cathedral Provincial Park has two real options to get in - you either
hike up - 7 to 9 miles up several thousand feet, or take a truck up to
the Lodge. Apparently, most people take the truck. The
truck takes about an hour to go up and an hour to go down and only runs
at very specific times - check the web site. They have a day
hiking trip package - 8am at the gates for up, 6pm down - first and up
and last down for the day. Throw in lunch and it's $90.
I was really hoping for a large crowd going up so that I could join
some party - the idea of hiking through the mountains by myself didn't
strike me as particularly brilliant. Turns out I was the only
person going day hiking on Friday. Oh well. On the truck
ride up we talked about routes - the plan was to go up by Glacier Lake
and hike the ridge to see the sights. Once we arrived I set out
pretty much immediately, hoping to make the best of the day. Very
quickly I found myself ascending and realizing the air at 7,000 feet is
noticeably thinner. Thankfully after only 45 minutes I was
rewarded with what would be a day of beautiful sights.
other BC hikes, this one
vista would be worth a
days hike. Here it was just an access route to something much
greater. I continued up the path as it went around the lake and
up the slope to the ridge. Hiking up the slope really makes you
question your ability to ascend - it's a lot of loose rock and it's
steep - you don't make great time. Soon enough you crest the
ridge and discover you are pretty much standing on the moon.
The views are fantastic - 360° without a tree in sight to limit the
view or impede the wind. It's starting to get cold up here - even
though I was working hard for much of the day, the fleece and goretex
jacket were rarely unzipped. My toque came out a few
times. You really are in a rare place.
And just as you get used to walking on
the moon, you
are reminded you are in some animals home. A marmot (common in
Manning) popped up to watch me walk by. You turn the corner
on the ridge and are suddenly treated to an entirely new valley to
view. This is such the way to travel.
But there milestones when you are hiking up here. The first
is a feature called the Devil's Woodpile.
BC Parks fashion, it's labeled with
a a large brown painted sign. Much of the rock around here looks
like columnar basalt that just didn't make the standards for shape or
robustness. In one small part of the ridge there is a winning
section - a long section of rock that is distinctly columnar and bends
over. Columnar basalt is one of my favorite geological
phenomenons - weather it's in a waterfall in Japan
or in Kayaking off some some small Island
in Mid BC
. Somehow the prospect of a 1000 foot fall here
hindered me from getting a strong composition - perhaps I should come
back at sunset.
The next feature on the List
City. Most of the ridge so far had been good sized rocks
cover in thin soil. Stone city was rock covered in a layer of
extremely course sand. The transition is fairly sudden - you feel
like you are in a cut scene from the Lord of the Rings film.
And again I was surprised by wildlife. I've seen Ptarmigan's on
before, but this is both higher and hard to believe any
bird could find enough food to live let alone find a mate to keep the
species going - and yet both must be true.
And that View doesn't stop. Past stony city you can see into the
next valley and the new row of mountains. I believe this is
looking South enough to see the US.
More milestones - first Smokey the Bear. Smokey the Bear is a
rock on top of a cliff that has a pretty good resemblance to Smokey the
bear. The view point has a 200 foot drop in front of it and the
wind is pushing hard to send you over it. Lovely. Next is
the giant Cleft. There are two trails to it - the first goes high
and you end up at the top of a gut turning drop. The second
follows around and stops at the bottom of the cleft. Yup,
big hole in a rock. Good place for lunch.
After lunch I walked back to where I came by Glacier Lake. I was
a little disappointed to see no other humans up here and was further
disappointed when I saw four mountain goats go running when I was well
over a km away from them. What can you do?
I was back on the the ridge where Glacier Trail comes up at about 1:30
- lots of time to keep going. My Next challenge was Quiniscoe
mountain. The Ascent is relatively gentle and in less than an
you are surveying yet another beautiful view. From here you can
see down over both Glacier Lake as well as Quniscoe lake and you can
see the lodge that opened up this park.
The wind is always your
friend up here - always with
you. Even though this place is cold and covered in snow for
much of the year, plant fight to make there existence known. You
get used to seeing so many beautiful flowers.
After soaking in the view, I started down the ridge to the next
pass. Off the ridge there is a thick moraine of snow that
has been built up by the wind and has resisted melting. Unlike
the Glacier Lake Valley, Quiniscoe's ridge hasn't yet melted a good
walk way through the snow. I wound up descending a snow ridge to
the last 10 feet - basically a straight drop off. I really wish I
had brought an ice axe and maybe a friend to go first. A bit of
excitement and I was back on solid ground.
Coming out of the alpine is
bitter sweet. Trees
return, familiar plans grow larger. I saw a curious Columbian
ground squirrel scold me for coming by and walked along the stream from
the snow as it got larger and larger. Eventually I was back to
the lodge and on a truck back to the valley floor.
A little pricey for a hike, but in my opinion, well worth the price of
The next morning I got up and drove through Osoyoss and Olivier to meet
up with Sean and Catherine. They were camping at Inkaneep
Nk'mip Desert & Heritage Centre
We dropped in to the tourist center in Osoyoos to find out what was
happening today. Our goal was to walk on Sand Dunes, but there
isn't anything like that close by. (Apparently, up a lake on
native land there are sand dunes. It's generally not open to the
public). The Nk'mip Desert & Heritage Center had a
snake demonstration on so we decided to go check it out.
The center has a 2km very well document hiking trail and we had some
time to before the snake show. Turns out you don't need to go to
the snake show to see snakes - we ran into two. First, just after
a bridge we were directed to a small rattle snake curled up.
Second, further out, we found a much more lively Gopher Snake
camouflaged in the brush. We chased him for a while and
he came out and strolled through the legs of my tripod. I was
Lunch on the lake, hiking in hills, visiting a winery or two, a swim in
Penticton and dropping by the Dominion Radio telescopes, there is lots
to do in the South Okanagon.
But ultimately we returned to camp for dinner, a nice campfire and
The next morning I drove back to Vancouver and a long, well deserved
Tags: flower(15), alpine(8), Okanagan(8), vista(8), BC fauna(7), panorama(7)
People: Sean(5), Catherine(3), John(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > John's Overnight Page > Cathedral Road Trip
From: John Harvey Photo > Cathedral Road Trip
Thank you for the lovely photo journey to Cathedral Park. My Mother and I created wonderful memories when hiking the area Autumn 2003. We especially enjoyed walking through the most spectacular larch forest I have seen.
Saturday, March 13th, 2010 at 13:10:27
Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 01:04:15 Edit
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