As usual, the weather forecast for the weekend failed to meet our expectations, and with the high terrain still covered in a deep snow-pack, we sifted through our options for dull-day hikes. Petgill Lake seemed like it would do the job. Maria and I parked up at Murrin Provincial Park under gloomy skies. Crossing the road was more difficult than I remember from the last time I did this hike. Maybe the amount of traffic on the Sea-to-Sky highway really has increased in those five years. Safely across, we walked the couple of hundred metres or so to the start of the hike, still marked with the same post. The first hundred metres of the trail involved a steep climb and mini-scramble up the rocks to reach the bluffs above the highway, which I remembered enjoying immensely the last time.
Once in the trees, we began our dipsy-doodling, as Dawn Hanna describes it in her book. That is, we climbed up a little way, then dropped into a small valley/gulley only to climb out again, each time gaining a little more elevation. The terrain is rugged with large rocky outcrops and the climb is quite steep in places. At one point the trail follows a miniature ridge for a short distance, probably the nicest part of the journey. I remembered this ridge and that it had lots of coralroot growing here. I guess it’s because we’ve always done this trail at about the same time of year, but again we encountered a rich area of fresh coralroot, plus plenty more that was slightly past its best.
The trail drops and climbs and drops again dumping us out onto an old logging road. This stretch was much longer than I remembered, and there isn’t a lot of interest as we passed through dark, dense young second-growth forest. Eventually we turned off onto a trail again, though still in the crappy forest. More dipsy-doodling and we reached the giant skunk-cabbage pond: a small pond with a veritable grove of skunk cabbage at one end. I posed among the smelly leaves for scale :-) Now my memory deceived me and I thought we were really close to the lake, but no – we had more climbing to do. But it wasn’t much longer before we did reach the lake itself, pushing our way through a narrow defile in the salal bushes.
Well, it wasn’t much of a view, though still pleasant enough. We felt some rain and wondered whether to make this our lunch spot, or to continue to the viewpoint. The viewpoint won, so we dropped off the rocks, passed the huge bracket fungus we took photos of 5 years ago and up on to the viewpoint. We had it to ourselves, and the threatening rain held off for us. The higher peaks were under cloud, but the Chief and the Howe Sound island peaks were still visible.
We finished our (by now quite late) lunch and retraced our route back to the car. We stopped at the edge of the lake, looking for and once again failing to find the mythical trail that goes around. Back on the trail, we descended through the gulleys and trees, stopping off at the lower viewpoint for what is actually a much better view of the Chief. The Olesen Creek valley can be seen very clearly, as can the routes up to the three summits. I always like seeing the bigger picture :-) Then it was back onto the trail and down and down (with the little ups in between) and back to the car in the rain. A pleasant, if unspectacular, day out. I think I’m getting picky about my hiking…!
Distance: 12 km
Elevation gain: 600 m
Photos to come…