Last night we had talked about what to do today and decided on a loop hike taking in Lakeview Mountain, the Boxcar, and Goat Lake. After yesterday’s gorgeous sunshine, we were a little disappointed by the cool overcast skies that greeted us at breakfast. But at least it wasn’t raining! The five of us set off on the trail, which led (ominously) downhill. We crossed Lakeview Creek on a small log bridge and then began the main portion of the uphill climb.
And what a gruelling climb it was. The trail gained elevation in a series of steep switchbacks before reaching a small creek and then following the creek straight up the slope. After what seemed like an age we reached the treeline and looked back at the view to the west. A little further on we reached a marker post pointing the way to Lakeview Mountain. Here the trail split into two, with one branch continuing the Trans-Canada (Centennial) Trail to the east. We opted for a snack break before following the trail as it led diagonally up the slope towards the summit.
Soon we left all the trees behind and were completely out in the open. If it rained now we would have no shelter. It reminded us a lot of hiking in the upland areas of Britain, with wide open moorland. Except here we were at a height of over 2000 m, more than twice the highest point anywhere in England! We plodded our way uphill in the chilly air, occasionally admiring the view of the Rim Trail we had done yesterday. On such a dull day as this, the dark rocks on Grimface and Denture Ridge looked quite forbidding.
One of the things I usually do when struggling uphill is spend a lot of time looking at the ground. The vegetation at our feet was tiny, mostly coarse grasses poking up through the granitic soil. But here and there were the last few summer flowers: miniature lupines, tiny red-leaved succulents, stunted blueberry bushes. Nothing grew higher that our ankles. Looking up into the distance, the landscape looked truly barren. Eventually the trail petered out and we ended up more-or-less following cairns across rocks and boulders towards the broad summit of the mountain. The abundance of small rocks meant it was important to watch your step; turning an ankle would be very easy here.
Looking at what I’ve just written it sounds like we were not really enjoying the trail. I’m not sure that’s really true, but we were pretty tired from yesterday’s hike and the chilly wind and absence of sunshine did make it a challenge to keep smiling. We managed to find a sheltered spot to consider for lunch, but then decided to keep moving as the wind seemed to keep shifting direction. We snatched a group photo before we left the highest point on today’s hike (2600 m, or 8600 ft).
We descended through the rocks and grass towards the saddle between Lakeview Mountain and the Boxcar and found a nice spot for lunch. We ended up perched on some rocks sheltered from the wind with a great view of the Boxcar. We could also see down towards Goat Lake and our route back to camp. With the chance to rest and get out of the wind we relaxed again and soaked up the miles and miles of scenery.
After lunch, we descended through the rocks and picked up a trail again down into the saddle before beginning our next climb up to the Boxcar. Although steep, it was short and we were walking on a soft, loose surface of granite sand which was nice and comfortable. We soon topped out on the flat top of the Boxcar, and admired the steep drop to the east. We walked to the eastern end of the plateau and had a good giggle at the shape of Haystack Mountain to the east. Let me tell you: it doesn’t look like any haystack I’ve ever seen… :-)
Satisfied with our view to the east, we walked over to the western end and peered over that edge. Yikes! An equally steep dropoff on that side too. We explored for a while, then sat for a while admiring the views, scaring ourselves by looking over the edge. All very pleasant. Looking at the time, we moved on and returned to the northern edge to pick up the trail again. Except there was no sign of Victor. We waited, and waited. And called, and called. Nothing. We went back to where we had seen him last and looked around. Still nothing. We went further, all the while calling out and still nothing. We were on the verge of wondering what to do next when he popped up from behind a rock and joined us. Turned out he had laid down and fallen asleep! He hadn’t heard a thing. We were exasperated, and yet somehow it was also just so funny that of all things, he’d just fallen asleep.
So we descended back to the saddle, and carried on down towards Goat Lake. As with yesterday’s hike, the treeline was marked by soft green larches and I wondered again just how beautiful this place would be when they turned yellow. As the trail levelled off, we picked our way through a marshy area and came out into the open at the outlet of Goat Lake. Even on a cloudy day, the setting for the lake was quite spectacular. On a sunny day it must be a fantastic sight. Merewyn went in for her customary swim. We most certainly did not follow; the water was freezing cold! Dipping our toes was as much as we could bear.
We set off for camp, following Lakeview Creek north for a few km. It was quiet, warm, and peaceful among the trees, with only the burbling stream making any sound. And so it was no surprise that we came across a trio of grouse, feeding on the the tiny cranberries and keeping in touch with each other via soft clucking sounds. We stopped and watched for several minutes, and they were not the least bit bothered by us. We managed to get a couple of really good photos of them. That was really nice!
Even nicer was our next animal encounter: a pair of deer right on the trail. The first deer didn’t hang around much, but the second one stopped and watched us. We approached cautiously and still it didn’t flee. It scratched itself, all the while watching us with its huge brown eyes. We must have spent a good few minutes just watching each other, but eventually we had to move on and it walked away through the willow thicket as we passed it on the trail.
Eventually we rejoined the beginning of the trail, but that could mean only one thing: we had to go uphill again. We slogged our way slowly back up to the campground and plonked ourselves down for a well-earned cup of tea. Then dinner, hot chocolate, and bed.
Distance: 15 km
Elevation gain: 985 m