When I was a wee sprout…..
My family took us on camping trips during many summer vacations. My experience with camping extends to watching my parents passionately discuss the quickest methods of pitching a tent, and cooking instant noodles on our portable propane camping stove- family size. We would “rough it out” with cold showers at the facilities down the path at our campsite and hold our breaths in over-used outhouses. This sort of camping, frontcountry camping, are places accessible by vehicle and are developed- providing the aforementioned amenities.
Now, what I’ve experienced for the first time this past week is ‘backcountry’ camping. No vehicle access to our site, no bathrooms (of any variety), carrying everything I need with me in a huge backpack, and eating freeze dried food. The idea that I need to bring a shovel with me to, um, “do my business” is a bit more rough than what little me considered.
The original plan was to hike to Mount Brunswick from Lions Bay but after a few early morning blunders and no parking we resorted to plan B. We ended up doing a hike to Deeks Lake from a parking lot off the Sea-to-Sky Highway 99. From the parking lot, it was a 3.4km hike to the access point that led up to the lake. It also is part of the 29.km Howe Sound Crest Trail! 6.7 km and 3.5-4 hours later, we would reach the campsite on one of the most difficult hikes I’ve done yet. It was blistering hot when we started the hike at noon and I felt very uncomfortable in my attire and new hiking boots.
The first hour of the hike was a trail lined with thimbleberries, which taste much like tamarind, the rest was very up until the lake. I recommend the bug spray because mosquitos and blackflies are plentiful- everywhere! The campsite was surrounded by bushes of what first appeared to be blueberries, but I believe they were actually black huckleberries.
We pitched the tent as soon as we arrived, inflated the sleeping pads, and tied our food up in a tree. Then I did what I wanted since about 30 minutes into the hike and jumped into the cold lake!
The water was clear and so refreshing. I really could not imagine going to bed with all that sweat and grime all over me. After cleaning up a bit, we poked around and got some lovely photos of the lake and ran into some other hikers.
When we decided it was time to eat some calories we came to the realization all the eating utensils were left at home. Life is a challenge, and you just have to accept them as they get thrown at you. The first thing that came to mind were chopsticks. The forest is full of sticks of various shapes and sizes so of course there would be some suitable for crafting our chopsticks.
With full bellies and a warm fire going, we enjoyed the clean air and stars in the sky. All the discomfort and struggle to get to the lake was worth it. Like anything desired, some sweat (literally) and tears are necessary to get the coveted prize at the end of it all.
I must say, I think I had one of the best sleeps in a while. Although the ground was a bit hard, I think it benefit my posture anyways, I slept soundly and deeply. There were no sounds of electricity humming, nor the distant sirens or rushing cars that I hear in the city. My partner-in-crime and I woke up when our eyes decided to and we were greeted by the dewy air as we emerged from the tent. I can completely understand why people love doing this stuff- and there are so many places in BC to go to!
All good things come to an end, so we had our breakfast of eggs and oatmeal, took down the tent, and packed our things. We said one last goodbye to the lake and the bleached logs before making our way back to the vehicle.
I did not imagine the way down would be as difficult as it was. We certainly finished much quicker than when we climbed up, but my toes in the new hiking boots were very unhappy with me. I suppose this is somewhat normal as you are breaking in new gear. Better now than on my multi day hike at the end of August… I think this was the least enjoyable part of the trip.
It took us about 2 hours to get back to the car, and it was a sight for sore eyes (and toes)! You know what feels better than jumping into a lake? Unlatching yourself from all the gear and wearing a pair of flip-flops! Also, going to your favorite ice-cream shop afterwards and getting a milkshake feels pretty good too.
While I loved my first backcountry camping experience, there are things I’d to do differently next time, and things I will be more aware of on my next adventure. Below are some highlights and things I will consider for the next trip.
What went well:
-Beautiful view and lake at the end
-It was challenging but fun; more smiles than frowns!
-Being resourceful (chopstick making)
-Best sleep of summer 2016
What I’d do differently:
-Pack at least the night before; Know where everything is inside the pack
-Print all maps and resources a day in advance
-Arrive early to find parking
-Wear comfortable clothes suitable for the weather
-Make a checklist; Check off that list
If you’d like to share your camping and hiking experience, I’d love to read them! What blunders, discoveries, or “ah-ha” moments did you have? Also, feel free to ask me more questions about my trip =]
Happy adventuring everyone!