Escaping to Slocan Lake

Escaping to Slocan Lake

While we’re all stuck at home and unable to travel, I’m learning Spanish. This is my first post in that beautiful language. Wish me luck 🙂 Español enseguida…

After three months in “quarantine”, back home in Canada, I really want to travel. At a minimum, I want to go somewhere new, to explore undiscovered hidden gems, even if they’re in my own backyard. So, when Jim invited us to join him for a week on beautiful Slocan Lake, I was delighted.

Después de tres meses encerrado en casa, tenía muchas ganas de viajar o, al menos, de explorar un nuevo lugar. Así que cuando mi amigo Jim me invitó a pasar una semana en el Lago de Slocan, me alegré mucho.

– You’ll find Slocan Lake nestled in the middle of the Kooteneys halfway between Vancouver & Calgary.
– El Lago de Slocan está ubicado a la mitad de Calgary y Vancouver en el sur de Columbia Británica

Luckily, I’m in BC, where there are plenty of parks, both national and provincial. Valhalla Provincial Park is of of the best known and I’d never visited, despite it being just a short drive away. It’s famous for its jagged mountains and sparkling Slocan Lake.

Por suerte, estoy en Columbia Británica donde hay muchos parques provinciales y nacionales. Parque Provincial Valhalla es uno de los más conocidos y nunca lo había visitado. El parque es famoso por sus montañas altas y escarpadas y también por el Lago de Slocan.

Wee Sandy Creek

Jim had the fantastic idea of paddling the whole length of the lake, from north to south. That’s definitely the way to go as the prevailing winds blow out of the north and can sometimes reach fearsome speeds. It’s been a few years since I was last in a canoe, so I worried that I might be a little rusty. Luckily, we arrived to a beautiful sunny day with glassy calm water.

Jim quería remar una canoa por lo largo del lago, del norte al sur. Me parecía una idea fantástica, sin embargo hacía unos años que no iba en canoa. Seguro que mis habilidades estaban un poco oxidadas. Por suerte, al llegar al lago hacía buen tiempo y me hizo mucha ilusión.

– Paddling along the lake, we enjoy the rocky landscapes of BC’s interior
– Remando en canoa por el lago, disfrutamos de los paisajes rocosos del interior del Columbia Británica

As we glided along the calm water, we came across an old sunken barge. From the 1890s up until 1988, the Canadian Pacific Railway transported logs on the long, narrow lake by way of massive barges, capable of carrying a locomotive and eight train cars. That was much more efficient than trying to blast a rail line through the surrounding rugged land.

Nos quedamos cerca de la orilla. Aunque hacía buen tiempo, los valles estrechos en esta zona son conocidos por tener tormentas sin previo aviso. Como por ejemplo, esta vieja barcaza que se volcó hace muchos años. Durante las primeras décadas del siglo anterior, los madereros transportaban los troncos por el lago. Era un modo mucho más eficaz que construir carreteras a través de las montañas rocosas y los bosques espesos.

– This sunken barge looks small but it once transported a locomotive, eight train cars, and a caboose, fully loaded with logs!
– Parece pequeña pero, en realidad, la gran parte de la barcaza está sumergida debajo del agua

There are eight campgrounds along the west shore of the lake, seven in the park proper. The campground furthest to the north is outside the park and accessible by road, so you might end up sharing with lots of other people. We chose the next campground, Wee Sandy Creek, and couldn’t have been happier. Due to the raging creek flowing right next to the campsite, it was “air conditioned”, even in the heat of the day.

Hay ocho zonas para acampar en la orilla oeste del lago, siete dentro del parque y otra afuera. La zona ubicada más al norte, y que está afuera del parque, es accesible a través de un camino y no es muy recomendable si quieres relajarte, debido al ruido y la gente. Elegimos la primera zona que está más al norte dentro del parque, Wee Sandy Creek, que es la más fría. Para nuestra primera noche de acampar Jim y Marilyn cocinaron pollo asado. ¡Qué buena pinta y qué delicioso!

– Jim roasting chicken over an open fire – delicious!
– Pollo asado en la hoguera… ¡QuĂ© buena pinta!

In a normal year, Valhalla attracts large numbers of locals and tourists alike. We have the coronavirus to thank for a much more serene experience. We ran into only a handful of other people, including a group with two very affectionate and playful dogs. Silvi couldn’t stop playing with them.

Normalmente, Valhalla atrae mucha gente durante el verano, pero a causa del coronavirus estuvimos casi solos. Conocimos a otro grupo con dos perros amigables y juguetones. Silvi no podía dejar de jugar con ellos 🙂

– Nothing makes this dog happier than fetching a big stick ALL DAY LONG!
– “Puedo seguir jugando todo el dĂ­a”

From nearly every campground there are trails heading up into the mountains. Even though it’s pretty relaxing just to hang out at the lake, it’s actually hard to see the impressive peaks in the distance, for the big hills in between. I was very happy to hike up into the hills, following trails adorned with deep-green moss and delicate spring flowers.

En cada zona para acampar hay senderos que se dirigen a las montañas. Aunque sea relajante estar en el lago, no se pueden ver muy bien los picos altos desde el agua por culpa de las colinas que se encuentran entre el lago y las montañas. Estos senderos son lindos, llenos de árboles y flores.

Delicate glacier lily in full bloom

I was surprised to see torrents of water burst from the alpine lakes above, crashing all the way down into Slocan Lake far below. There must have been a lot of snow over the winter and it’s finally starting to melt – in a hurry!

Estaba muy sorprendido al ver que los arroyos de agua se desbordaban. Son prácticamente ríos. Había nevado tanto durante el invierno que ahora los cauces no son bastante grandes para contener toda el agua de la nieve derretida.

– Evans Creek in full flood. Trying to ford now would be deadly
– No querrĂ­a intentar atravesar este torrente porque serĂ­a fatal

There’s a lot of history along these trails. I came across old saws, shovels, and other random tools as I approached Cahill Lake. When was this kettle last used? 50 years ago? But the colours are still so sharp.

Se puede descubrir mucha historia en los senderos canadienses. Encontré muchos artefactos a lo largo del camino mientras andaba. ¿Cuándo se usó esta tetera por última vez? ¿Hace cuarenta años? Pero los colores siguen siendo vibrantes.

– Withstanding the test of time
– Una tetera vieja pero todavĂ­a linda

There are nice campgrounds at Emerald and Cahill Lake. I’d love to come back and explore these mountains, taking advantage of the cooler temperatures up high.

Al llegar a Cahill Lake me alegré mucho porque aquí también había una zona bonita para acampar con una bella vista de los picos. Me gustaría mucho volver para explorarlas y disfrutar de las temperaturas frías.

Cahill Lake

As I was walking back down the trail, dark clouds gathered, soon followed by lightening blasts and loud claps of thunder. Miraculously, I got no more than a few pelts of hail, arriving back at camp just in time for the skies to open up. Perfect timing!

Mientras volvía al Lago de Slocan por el sendero, llegó una tormenta con nubes oscuras y truenos ruidosos. ¡Por fin! Me encantan las tormentas. Llegué a la cabaña justo cuando comenzó a llover. ¡Qué suerte!

– The storm is coming
– Se acerca una tormenta

Thanks to Jim, Marilyn, Trevor, Judy, and Silvi for a great week together.

Gracias a Jim, Marilyn, Trevor, Judy y Silvi por la semana divertida que pasamos juntos.

2019 in 12 Photos

As I look back over photos from the past 12 months, my year looks a little inside-out. I spent the winter in nice warm New Zealand walking the 1200-km long Te Araroa. It was a great year for long-distance hiking. In the spring I returned to Canada to hike the Great Divide Trail – which looked a lot more like winter even though it was summer! I spent the second half of the year travelling around the world – my first ever circumnavigation of the earth. Cycling in the Netherlands, exploring the ever mysterious North Korea, celebrating China’s 70th anniversary in Beijing, learning yoga in Sri Lanka, scuba diving with sharks in the Maldives, and eating everything possible in Singapore.

January – Hiking length of New Zealand’s South Island on the Te Araroa trail
February – New Zealand’s always changing landscapes continue to amaze
March - After two and a half months of walking across New Zealand, we reach the sea and the end of the trail!
March – After two and a half months of walking across New Zealand, we reach the sea and the end of the trail!
April - It's always good to come back home and see loved ones again
April – It’s always good to come back home and see loved ones again
May - I begin walking the Great Divide Trail and it's much too early in the season
May – I begin walking the Great Divide Trail and it’s much too early in the season
June - It feels like winter on the GDT. I spend most of the month snowshoeing rather than hiking.
June – It feels like winter on the GDT. I spend most of the month snowshoeing rather than hiking.
July - Even with the arrival of summer, it still feels like winter in the Canadian Rockies.
July – Even with the arrival of summer, it still feels like winter in the Canadian Rockies.
August - I make it to the end of the GDT! As a treat, I catch a helicopter ride out with my new friend, Colin.
August – I make it to the end of the GDT! As a treat, I catch a helicopter ride out with my new friend, Colin.
September – I discover that the Netherlands is a fantastic place for a cycling trip.
October - Back to North Korea for my second visit. It's still full of mystery.
October – Back to North Korea for my second visit. It’s still full of mystery.
November - Three weeks in Sri Lanka learning yoga helps me stretch out those tight hiking muscles.
November – Three weeks in Sri Lanka learning yoga helps me stretch out those tight hiking muscles.
December - Up early to catch sunrise during a week of fantastic scuba diving in the Maldives.
December – Up early to catch sunrise during a week of fantastic scuba diving in the Maldives.

I certainly haven’t tired of travel and adventure yet. I’m looking forward to making more great memories in 2020.

Great Divide Trail – A Walk Through the Canadian Rockies

Great Divide Trail – A Walk Through the Canadian Rockies

I remember being four years old and gazing out toward the mountains, imagining what it would be like to visit such an incredible place. Hiking became a big part of my life years later and I’ve had the opportunity to explore many parts of the Canadian Rockies. I even walked most of the popular sections of the Great Divide Trail over the years but never thought of hiking the entire trail. One day I woke up and that child-like fascination returned. What would it be like to hike the whole GDT? What secret, hidden places might it reveal? I had to find out. Continue reading “Great Divide Trail – A Walk Through the Canadian Rockies”

GDT – Jasper Skyline Trail

GDT – Jasper Skyline Trail

Maligne Lake to Miette River – 87km

July 11 – Jasper Skyline Trail

I have great memories of hiking the Jasper Skyline Trail with good friends a few years ago. We did it the hard way, starting at the low end of the trail and then dipping down into the Watchtower Basin for a night. Now, as part of my GDT hike, I managed to snag a last-minute spot at Curator Campground. Such good luck. Continue reading “GDT – Jasper Skyline Trail”

GDT – Through the Car Wash

GDT – Through the Car Wash

Field BC to Saskatchewan Crossing – 100km

I’ve had two wonderful days in Golden with Dan and Tara. We stayed up late talking about hiking, geeking out on backpacking gear, and just having a good time. It’s great to connect with like-minded people, especially such nice, generous ones. Tara and Dan are doing a great job of helping hikers and making the Great Divide Trail more accessible. I feel well rested, well fed, and ready to hit the trail. Here’s their sweet dog, Sitka… Continue reading “GDT – Through the Car Wash”

GDT – Rockwall Trail

GDT – Rockwall Trail

Rockwall Trail to Field BC – 75km

June 21 – First Day of Summer

Andrew and Nicky dropped me back at the trail at noon, which was actually really good timing as the rain had just stopped. Fresh snow dusted all the peaks to the north.

It’s a big climb from the highway up through an old burn but I enjoyed the mix of bright green young plants and dark charred trees. Continue reading “GDT – Rockwall Trail”