How about Cathedral Provincial Park? Seriously, how stunning is this place?!! If you have not made your visit yet, especially you locals, make a plan to go next season. Cathedral has campsites available if you want to tent.There are also cabins available to rent provided by Cathedral Lakes Lodge. There are multiple hiking routes to get to the park but plan of having to hike between 7-10 hours to get up there or you can purchase return transportation provided by Cathedral Lakes Lodge and ride on one of their trucks or the Unimog. Find detail information about the Park on the Cathedral Lakes Lodge and the BC Parks websites.
Day 1-Thursday, September 28th:
As this was the “Summer of Fire” in BC with many fires burning in the mountains surrounding our valley, Cathedral Park was ordered to close by the province. The closure lasted twenty-four days, from the end of August until September 21st. When we heard the fire closure was lifted, we decided to book the 4X4 truck to Cathedral’s while the weather was still relatively warm. It costs $73.50/each for the ride including return (youth pricing). Because my sister was missing two days of school, Kisa had to work Saturday at noon and I was scheduled to help coach soccer on Saturday as well, we would not had enough time to explore what we wanted to without booking the ride. To catch the ride up you have to drive to base camp which is situated approximately 20km or 30 minutes heading west on Ashnola Road from Keremeos historical Red Bridge. The pave road turns into the gravelly Ashnola Forest Service Road which follows the Ashnola River. Once we arrived at base camp, we parked Kisa’s car beyond the gate and proceeded to unload. It’s nice to be able to drive ourselves and not worry about who’s going to pick us up Saturday morning. Yay! The parking area is fenced and locked so you don’t have to worry about theft.
Last year we took the Unimog up to the lodge, but since it was a cool morning and it was only us three we ended up taking a 4X4 truck. About thirty minutes in our drive, Zoé passed right out. Gotta say I wasn’t too surprised. Then another thirty minutes went by before we reached the top. With excitement we quickly grabbed our bags and walked to the nearest campsite which is located at Quiniscoe Lake. Took us maybe an hour to fill out and deposit the self-registration forms and our camping fees into the metal vault attached to the information shelter, set up our tents and fix our lunch. Once we were done eating, we threw our food into one of the wire mesh food caches provided by the park and planned out our hike for that afternoon.
We began our trek by hiking around Quiniscoe Lake. Zoe was very excited since she had never been up here before. She wouldn’t stop talking. If you know Zoe, talking lots is quite normal for her, but considering everything was new to her, the talking was extra fast and half the things coming out of her mouth didn’t make sense. At the other side of Quiniscoe lake across from the lodge, rests a beautiful waterfall. We sat there a few minutes to enjoy its relaxing sounds. As we looped around the lake we all decided on a quick stop for a water refill, using a water filter.
The next stop was Lake of the Woods. This is one of Kisa’s favourite lakes. Campsites, tall trees, clear water, and mountains surrounding the lake. It was especially quiet with no wind and no campers. As we kept on hiking, we eventually arrived at Pyramid Lake. Years ago, you used to be able to camp at Pyramid Lake. As of today, the campsites are closed due to Pine beetles destruction and ongoing revegetation. This lake looks out at Pyramid Mountain. Here we sat near the water, and soaked in its stunning view.
The next stop of our Thursday adventure was Glacier lake. Hiking into Glacier Lake is a little more of an uphill trek than the other three. As we got closer to Glacier Lake, Kisa and I pointed out to Zoe a few of the main areas we’d be exploring the following day. Zoe’s face was a little stunned. You could tell at the moment that she wasn’t to keen about it as it looked tiring. To keep her distracted we decided to stalk up on water again, munched on a few handfuls of trail mix and devoured some pepperoni sticks. We also relaxed, made up jokes and snapped a few pictures before making our way back down to camp.
At camp we ate our dinner and Zoe played her ukulele. For dinner we all at dehydrated spaghetti, hot chocolate and some “leftover” muffins. Earlier that day Zoe put the muffins right against the wire mesh of the food caches. So, of course the chipmunks reached for them, chewed through the resealable plastic bag and ate three. THREE! We thought it was pretty funny, but Zoe wasn’t too impressed. The day was coming to an end when we chose to do something we thought was hilarious and stupid. That consisted of us grabbing our sleeping bags and running around the campground for longer than we are proud of. But I mean who cares, it was pretty fun!
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Day 2- Friday, September 29th:
It was a cool morning when we woke up. As we got ready we had a nice breakfast, put the rest of the muffins properly away, and stormed off to the Rim Trail. There are two main ways to start this trail off. You can either go towards Ladyslipper Lake, which is steeper to start with or Glacier Lake. We took Glacier Lake entrance. As we made our way towards the Lake, we hike into trees that were turning a nice yellow tinge you would expect seeing in the fall. Since we are 6800 ft. above sea level, the air is thinner. At first we found ourselves trying to catch our breath. As we kept hiking our lungs got used to the air and it didn’t bother us anymore. Our first stop was Glacier Lake, where we filtered water and filled our bottles.
Afterwards, we headed up the Rim Trail. We hiked towards Devil’s Woodpile. Many people who have never been up Cathedral Provincial Park thinks it’s an actual woodpile but its not. It is a columnar jointed basalt that was formed during rapid cooling of thick lava. Here, we munched on our snacks and soaked in the uniqueness of Devil’s Woodpile and the beautiful view behind it.
From there we made our journey towards Stone City. Stony City consists of hundreds of smooth boulders that were formed by quartz monzonite eroded by centuries of wind and high altitude weather. This is quite a site. As we moved along we spotted a family of mountain goats. They are docile enough and let us take a few pictures of them. Next was Giant’s Cleft. A split in the granite formed when softer basalt rocks eroded. This rock formation is quite spectacular. After the cleft, we hiked towards Smokey the Bear. Smokey is my favourite! This formation of rocks resembles the silhouette of an iconic mascot. The mascot is known for protecting forests against fires and he did a good job protecting this park this season. We snapped a few photos with him and enjoyed another snack.
When we were done with Smokey the Bear we headed down Ladyslipper Trail. For the first bit you’re walking on shale rocks looking down at Ladyslipper Lake. The decent was quite steep but only for a short bit. The landscape changed drastically from rocks to trees as you make your way down the mountain. As we arrived at Ladyslipper Lake it started raining. Ladyslipper is a stunning azure blue coloured lake. At this point it was pouring. We hurried back to camp, changed from wet to dry clothes, huddled in our tent and reflected on our memorable adventure.
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For those of you who looking for a new place to explore, I highly recommend it. Add Cathedral Provincial Park to your must do list. We are lucky to have this place here in B.C.