I finally got to tick off a park that has long been on my bucket list, Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park. We had planned to go earlier in the summer and had paid and reserved our ride up but cancelled at the last minute because of all the smoke from forest fires in the area. Instead we went to Manning Park and had a great 3 day backpack with only a bit of smoky views the first day which cleared up nicely for the rest of the trip.
As it was getting near the end of summer, and we still wanted to go to Cathedral, we decided to head up last week. Smoke reports were pretty low and lodge staff said weather up in the park was great. So off we went on Sunday to go up on the 4PM shuttle figuring smoke wasn’t going to be in the picture. WRONG!
It was interesting just how the smoke behaved. It was coming up from Washington state fires and would come in during the day. Then the winds would die down and we would have perfectly clear skies to star gaze at night. Early mornings would look clear blue skies and then the wind would start to pick up and the smoke would move in.
We had planned 3 nights camping and coming back mid-afternoon on day 4. And that’s what we did, with a little “wrinkle”. We had reserved our ride out for the 3:30 shuttle but due to the smoke, it turned out that the park was told to evacuate everyone on that day. So we all headed down on the 1 PM shuttle, a couple of hours early.
Still, we got in some great hiking and interesting views. The smoky skies combined with all the dead spruce from the spruce bark beetle kill made for some very other-worldly landscapes. We felt like we could be on another planet, definitely not in BC!
I really enjoyed looking at the stars while falling asleep on Sunday night. We left the rainfly off the tent and had a clear view through the bug netting. Monday was our first and most strenuous day of hiking. Got up and had a leisurely camp breakfast. Lake of the Woods looked lovely. (Many of these photos are large panoramic stitches and you’ll only get the full meal deal if you click on them to view!)
Didn’t see any smoke yet. Plan for the day was to hike to Ladyslipper Lake and then up to the Rim, entering at Stone City. Here’s a map of the park and the core area. It was only a 250 metre climb to the Lake but we noticed that our energy was lower than usual. Well, the park and Lake of the Woods is at 2000 metres elevation so that might have had something to do with it!
Here we are coming down into Ladyslipper Lake.
For some reason, I got the map turned around in my head and when we got to the lake, we headed off along the North shore to the West end of the lake. Lots of people at the lake fishing and swimming.
We considered trying to make our way up to the rim through that terrain you’re looking at and decided not to. Retraced our way back to where we turned right and should have turned left and around and up we went. A view on the way back.
It was a pretty hot day and we started up the trail to the rim. We stopped to eat on the way up.
After eating, headed back onto the trail. Here we are almost up on the rim.
And you can see that the skies are no longer blue but the wind is now bringing the smoke up. Notice how much darker it is on the right than the left!
Finally made it to Stone City.
Star Trek or other space movies would have had a great time filming up here!
From Stone City we wandered Northwards along the rim to the Devil’s Woodpile. Love the orange lichens and other vegetation.
We loved this beautiful wide bench meadow. The colours are just so understated and subtle. And the smoke made it look so other worldly.
S standing on top of the Devil’s Woodpile
From here we continued along the rim to the trail down to Glacier Lake
The trail down to Glacier Lake. It was much more friendly than the trail up from Ladyslipper Lake and is the way most people get up on the rim if they leave from the lodge.
Another view of Pyramid Mountain as we head back down. Notice the sharp division between the smoky sky and not so smoky sky, and the colour of the sun, the white dot at the upper right in the smoke. To our eyes, it was actually a glowing red ball. Don’t quite know why it didn’t come out that way in the photo. Something to do with what lenses see vs what eyes see.
It was a full day of hiking. You can see the stats from my watch, here. Once back at camp, we relaxed, did a bit of swimming in Lake of the Woods to get the sweat off and really enjoyed eating our dinner.
Stay tuned for Day 2, coming your way in the not too distant future.