Watersprite

Finally we get to see this Instagram-famous view with our own eyes! A sunny hike in was followed by a snowy and rainy hike out the next day. And it was worth it. A big thank-you to the BCMC for all their hard work in creating this trail.

Warning: potentially unpopular opinions ahead.

So I finally got to see Watersprite Lake in person at the weekend and I’ve been trying to pin down exactly what I think of it. My initial reaction is that I was not wowed by it at all, which I put down to a few things:

  1. I’ve seen a billion photos of that same view on Instagram. Yawn.
  2. The lake is smaller than you think.
  3. The sun was dipping below the ridge to the south west, casting deep shadows over the lake and making it hard to get a good photo. Plus I found that the scene would have benefited from the wide-angle lens that I had left at home in favour of a telephoto that didn’t get used. Then it clouded over anyway.

I was also a bit tired and impatient to get to the campground and drop my overnight pack, and we still had a snowy boulder field to cross.

And while the approach is on a good logging road, it’s still just a logging road, although the views are rather gorgeous on a fine day. On a wet day it’s a long soggy trudge.

The view of the lake from the campground is nothing to write home about. I probably need to get higher up.

Sounds like a terrible place doesn’t it?

Well, after getting all that out of my system, my conclusion is that I simply didn’t get to spend long enough at the lake to explore and size up the best angles for photos, or catch the best light, so I simply have to go back! The reality is that the lake is a fantastic colour and nestled in a stunning amphitheatre of sheer mountains. The BCMC has done (and is still doing) an excellent job in ensuring that this beautiful place will hopefully be able to withstand its new-found fame. It was a lovely place to camp for a night, and was so atmospheric in the snow.

Anyway, don’t take my word for it. Pick up a copy of 105 Hikes and check it out yourself!

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Hankering

Hankering after views like this, especially when I couldn’t be bothered to get outside at the weekend for anything more than a walk on the beach.

It’s Mountain Monday once again, and I found myself paging through hiking photos from the weekend where people had ventured in the mountains despite the rain. For a few moments my mood turned grumpy as the FOMO kicked in. Why hadn’t I got outside, I asked myself? We had planned to get out (and had a couple of simple hikes in mind) but when the time came we favoured staying dry indoors over a day of damp fresh air.

To get me out of this self-absorbed mood, I found the need to find a photo I liked from the summer’s hiking to contribute to the endless firehose of photographs that is Instagram. I settled on the one above from our backpacking trip to Phelix Creek, and I remember sizing up this shot at the time. The symmetry and neat dividing lines of the scene caught my eye, as did the contrasting colours: the red/brown of the rocks where I was standing, the blue-green water, the grey rock beyond, and the blue sky above. I tried to divide it evenly, but couldn’t quite get it to work: I have a little too much foreground. Perhaps I should have cropped a little tighter, but I wanted to give Mount Aragorn space.

Despite that, this is definitely one of my favourite photos from that trip, if nothing else because it immediately takes me back to that warm day lounging around on the smooth rocks, oh-so happy to be free of the marauding mosquitoes from the valley….

Ridges

Ridges for miles… Throwback Thursday to a great weekend in the mountains at the beginning of August. Those hot buggy days already seem a distant memory…

It’s a bit of a slog up to Gott Peak but once up there it’s possible to walk for some distance right along the ridge top. One side slopes away steeply but smoothly over boulders and then meadows, while the other drops precipitously in a cascade of broken rock, dirt, and snow. The ridge is not just an endless line stretching out before you to infinity either, instead undulating up and down, gaining and losing 50-100 m of elevation each time. Of course, that soon adds up, turning a simple climb into a more challenging adventure.

Thankfully getting to Gott Peak only involves going over one such bump (indeed, our first visit to this area we only ventured to this sub-peak), and it makes for a wonderful photo-op on the return journey, especially when lit by the warm afternoon sunshine. We continued beyond this peak to cross other, lower bumps further along the ridge, eventually dropping down very steeply into the valley to rejoin the trail back to the pass. A fun day of ridge exploration!

A Medley of Moptops

A medley of moptops for wildflower Wednesday, definitely one of the most distinctive alpine flowers – I just love the way they catch the light. They only flower for a brief time as soon as the snow melts, leaving their fluffy seed heads to decorate the meadows for the rest of the short alpine growing season.

Moptop, tow-headed baby, hippy on a stick, muppets of the mountains… The seed-heads of the western anemone have multiple nicknames. Many people liken them to characters from Dr Seuss books; to me they’re just moptops. I didn’t have much exposure to the Dr Seuss characters when I was a kid but what little I had I didn’t think much of; I have a vague recollection of thinking that it was kinda silly and unrealistic, even at a young age. So, forgive me if I shrug or even grit my teeth if one more person exclaims about how Dr Seuss-like they are!

It’s remarkable to see how tall they grow and how they dominate some meadows when they start off so small. But the best thing about them is the way they catch the light, be it afternoon, evening, or morning. And I can’t stop taking their picture when that happens!

Lenticular

A line of lenticular-like clouds forms over the summit of Third Brother, a sign of high winds and a likely change in the weather. Later that night it poured with rain, heavy enough on the tent to wake me up, and in the morning turned to snow for a couple of hours. After that the clouds drifted away and the sun came out again. All the weather you could wish for! One of the joys of backpacking and something you always need to be prepared for 🙂

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A line of lenticular-like clouds forms over the summit of Third Brother, a sign of high winds and a likely change in the weather. Later that night it poured with rain, heavy enough on the tent to wake me up, and in the morning turned to snow for a couple of hours. After that the clouds drifted away and the sun came out again. All the weather you could wish for! One of the joys of backpacking and something you always need to be prepared for 🙂 #tripplanning #tripplantuesday #manningpark #ecmanningprovincialpark #ecmanningpark #manningparkresort #heathertrail #thirdbrother #backpackingbc #backpacking #hiking #bchiking #hikebc #bcparks #yourbcparks #bcadventuresmart #explorebc #beautifulbc #beautifulbritishcolumbia #ifttt

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I love clouds in all their forms. Lenticular clouds are less common, but not exactly rare in mountainous areas; we’ve seen them before in the notoriously-windy Coquihalla area before, which lies only 50 km or so north of our camping spot, and several had formed just east of that same area earlier today. What I hadn’t seen before was a line, especially such a clearly wave-like line, of lenticular clouds. I hoped they would persist until sunset; seeing those clouds lit up by golden evening light would have made a spectacular photo. Alas, they drifted off, and the sunset was mostly cloudy anyway with just a few brief patches of colour.

It was sometime after about 2 am that the rain started; the moon rose around midnight and lit up the tent for a while before the rain clouds rolled in. I tried not to think about the physiological effect that falling water would have on me in the middle of the night. Thankfully I lasted until the morning, and we had enough of a gap in the weather to convince us to get moving. At which point it snowed.

Summer views

Another Friday, another flashback. I posted a photo of this view back in October last year after the first fall of snow (feel free to scroll back through my feed to find it). It was nice to revisit it on a warmer day.

As we headed out on our hike, I kept an eye on the view back towards the lake to see if it would be possible to recognize the spot where we sat in the snow last October. It turned out to be easy and I could even identify the very rock we’d sat on. Without being able to see exactly what I’d taken last year, I did my best to size up what seemed to be the most likely composition, hoping that consistency would be on my side.

Reproducing the scene turned out to be surprisingly easy, but where I got it wrong was in my editing of the photo above; I was a little too keen to crop out the right-hand side, and I used a different aspect ratio (4:3 rather than 3:2) which I can put down to using a different camera. The end result makes for quite a nice comparison. See for yourself:

Winter in July

Flashback-Friday to four weeks ago and a thundery summer hailstorm that turned the surrounding landscape white while we huddled under a tarp.

We suspected that we’d be in for some wild weather as we watched the sunlit snow pellets float towards us on the wind. For the longest time it looked like we might escape as we watched heavy showers drift either side of us. But as we retraced our steps back down to Camel Pass, a clap of thunder had us scurrying down towards the treeline as fast as we could safely scramble. The thunder got closer and we walked faster as hail began to fall.

We made it to a small clump of spruce trees, stashed the metal items in our possession several metres away, and pulled out our never-before-used Siltarp to provide some cover against the now-stinging hailstones. Then a flash and crack of thunder right overhead. We’d definitely made the right call to get off the ridge: thunderstorms in the alpine are no joke.

The tarp was our shelter for the next hour as a mix of hail and snow fell all around us, decorating the landscape in a thin coat of white. Our sunflower butter and apple chip wraps included pea-size hail pellets for a little extra crunch. As it finally tapered off and ended, we picked up our gear and walked the rest of the way back down to our tent, marvelling at how the scenery had changed in such a short time. By the end of the day it had all melted, but for a few hours we had a bracing dose of winter in July.