My First Ever Camping Trip
So, once upon a time I went camping. And then a week of internet-less-ness went by. And then I got really, really, really ridiculously busy at work. And then I could finally blog about it.
While I was packing for my camping trip:
Me: I think I’ll bring this little notebook and a pen, in case I have any profound thoughts I need to write down while I’m camping.
Dani: You mean in case you have any ideas for your blog.
Me: Yes, yes I do.
Just to give you some background, this was the first time in my entire life that I ever slept in a tent. Seriously. I went to “camp” in grade 8, where we slept in cabins. And I’ve been to my friend Erika’s cabin. And I went to someone’s cottage once. And that’s the extent of my “camping” type experiences up until now. My family never did the camping thing when I was growing up and, despite the fact that everyone in Vancouver seems to camp all summer long, no one has ever invited me to go camping with them until Rachel did three weeks ago.
Rachel has a lot of camping gear, so all I had to bring was my food, clothes and a pillow. Neither of us own a car and it turned out to be much cheaper to rent one than to use a co-op car (which seems to be true of the longer trips, and we were driving pretty far). Rachel did all the planning (did I ever mention that Rachel rocks??) and I honestly didn’t even know exactly where we were heading when we left on the Friday afternoon. It turns out we camped at Nairn Falls Provincial Park on Friday night, then headed out to Joffre Lakes to hike on Saturday.
To give you some perspective, Nairn is about 150 km north of Vancouver. And Joffre, unlike what Rachel’s hiking guide book told us, is about 40 km past that. Rachel’s guide book said “Drive 190 km north past Whistler & Pemberton,” so we got up quite early on Friday expecting to drive 190 km (as Nairne is near Pemberton). What the guide book should have said was “Drive 190 km north of Vancouver, going past Whistler & Pemberton.” Minor details.
We left Vancouver in the afternoon and arrived at our campsite in time to pitch our tent while there was still some sunlight, with time to then enjoy the glorious sunset. We also had, in our opinion, the nicest campsite of all the sites in the park. We had a great view of the mountains and the water running by:
Although I think the sunset makes it look like Rachel has a halo and, really, I should have some devil horns to complete the image.
Before and after photos of our tent:
Am I the only one who is amazed that the tent, tent poles and tarp all fit into that tiny little sack?
After pitching the tent, we went for a little stroll in search of water and firewood and we don’t get but three campsites down when we here “Beth?” It was my friend Alicia, and her boyfriend Paul, who had just arrived at their campsite. It amazes me that in the 7 years I’ve lived in Vancouver, I can count the number of times I’ve just run into someone I know while out in the city1 on one hand2, but I drive 150 km north and run into a friend three campsites down.
After finding water, but not finding the camp ranger3 to get our firewood, we returned to our site, and cooked some dinner on our wee little camping stoves. The ranger did show up later so we could buy some firewood and build a nice little fire. Rachel had booked the campsite in her name, so when the ranger showed up she asked, “Are you the Molls?” Apparently I took Rachel’s name when we got married.
We had a very relaxed night of playing cribbage, watching the stars and chatting. And then we went to bed, since we were planning to get up really early. And I didn’t sleep a wink. The water that was so beautiful was also unbelievably loud! Funnily enough, we had been chatting, among other things, about how both of us almost never have problems sleeping! That’ll learn me to tempt fate! Also, it was a bit chilly and Rachel, meaning to ask if I knew where the extra blanket was in case I got cold, uttered the best line of the trip: “Do you know how to operate a blanket?”
We got up early and, after a quick camping breakfast, packed up and headed out for a drive to Joffre. From the Ministry of the Environment website:
Steeply rising from Lower Joffre Lake, the glacier-laden peaks are visible from an easily accessible viewpoint 500 metres from the parking lot. If you carry on, the trail becomes a rough, rocky and steep hike through the Coast Mountain range. Evidence of the park’s glacial history can be found in the U-shaped valleys, glacial silts and lateral moraines. This magnificent area of jagged peaks, icefields, cold rushing streams and turquoise blue lakes was established as a recreation area in 1988 and became a Class A park in 1996. A highlight of the park is the turquoise blue waters of Lower, Middle and Upper Joffre lakes, all three of which are located along the trail, and each more stunning than the last. Their striking, saturated blue colour is caused by “rockflour” – or glacial silt – that is suspended in the water and reflects green and blue wavelengths of sunlight. Joffre Lakes Provincial Park has opportunities for hiking, camping, mountaineering, wildlife viewing, and fishing.
If it seems like they are going on and on about the turquoise blue waters of the lakes, it’s only because the water is really turquoise! Seriously, don’t these photos look like we standing in front of a fake backdrop? It was hard to believe that something this beautiful really exists!
After reaching Upper Lake, we decided that for our next trip to Joffre we will pack our tent and other camping gear and carry it up there to camp out by Upper Lake. Then we could hike up to see the glacier at the top. How cool will that be!
If you ever decide to go to Joffre Lakes, though, I recommend you beware of the wildlife! Check out this ferocious beast we encountered near Upper Lake:
In all seriousness, though, there are bears in the area. And we saw these (what we are pretty sure are4) bear tracks:
There was also a very large pile of what we believe to have been bear shit on a nearby log – making us think these were bear tracks and not, as some fellow hikers thought dog or squirrel prints. Seriously, we told some other hikers we saw what looked like bear prints and they said, “maybe they were squirrel prints.” I mean, really – how big do squirrels get up north??
Then we hiked back down. And the hike did require that we traverse some very loose rocks and I twice slipped and slammed my ankle into some not very forgiving rocks. Ouch.
And on the way home we were stopped on the Sea-to-Sky highway for over an hour just south of Squamish as there had been a big collision which required them to stop traffic in both directions. Rachel took a picture in the rearview mirror of the traffic behind us:
Word to the wise – if you are ever stuck in traffic on the Sea-to-Sky highway just outside of Squamish, I recommend taking a walk down the road and chatting with each of the carload after carload of hot boys also stuck in said traffic. Good opening lines include “Can you see what’s going on up there?” and “Where did you get that pizza?”
Anyhoo, we eventually made it home and I even went out on the town that night. There’s something truly wonderful about living in a place where you can hike glacial lakes during the day and still get home to go clubbing at night.
1not counting while on campus. ‘cuz that’s not really in the city.
2ok, maybe on two hands
3is that what they are called?
4can anyone confirm or deny whether these are, in fact, bear tracks?