This seems to be the year of the “I enjoyed this than I expected to” hike. It’s been 8 years since we last visited Petgill Lake and we set off today with an expectation of a mediocre hike purely for exercise. Instead we had an exceptionally peaceful experience and thoroughly enjoyed our time in the forest, finding plenty of distractions along the way. Definitely a nicer hike than I remember. However, the lake remains unimpressive: do this hike for the hike and the couple of nice views, not the lake itself.
Sadly the folks that have camped (recently) at the lake clearly have no concept of backcountry bathroom etiquette and a section of the trail is a disgusting mess of TP and other leftovers. No attempt to clean up, no attempt to bury anything, just an absolutely disgusting mess. I can’t tell you how much I want to insert some serious profanity in there.
Without question the hardest (and most dangerous) part of this hike is crossing Highway 99. It requires extreme care, patience, and good timing. The parking lot at Murrin Provincial Park also fills up during the day so an early start is a good idea. We were there by 9:15 am and had no trouble finding a spot.
The trail is mostly good to follow and there are plenty of markers to keep on track in places where the route is less obvious. The “new” logging road is thankfully more pleasant to walk on than we expected. However, the leftovers from the logging is a disheartening mess.
Our attempts to find the trail that goes around the lake were foiled again, partly by the mess mentioned above: it was simply not appealing to walk past all that stuff. Maybe one day we’ll find it…
We saw a pair of woodpeckers in the first clear cut and Steller’s jays at the lake. Swainson’s and varied thrushes sang in the trees, flycatchers (phoebes) called out for free-beer, wrens, kinglets, and the occasional nuthatch added their voices. We startled a very defensive female (spruce?) grouse and her brood on our descent – seriously intimidating!
So much coralroot! Most of it is past its peak and is beginning to decay, but higher up there were many flowers still blooming. Pinesap is emerging on the upper sections of the trail – we saw some very rich patches of it, perhaps the most we’ve ever seen in one place. Other flowers included Columbia lilies, heart-leaved twayblade, Queen’s cup, bunchberry, ocean spray, goat’s beard, rattlesnake plantain, Menzies’ pipsessewa, one-sided wintergreen, copperbush, and Labrador tea.
Berries are ripening: salmonberries are nearly done, thimbleberries are on their way, and we saw our first blueberries today though they’ll still need a couple of weeks to ripen fully. Red huckleberries were sparse but almost ripe.
Distance: 10.5 km
Elevation gain: 650 m