July 17th, 2011 was the first day I laid my eyes on my better half.. and then got us lost in a city park. Two years later, again on this date, we decided we wanted to travel and explore off the beaten path. Now this year, for our fourth anniversary and with our wild plans nearing fruition, it was time to test out the rig and some of our gear…
— Day One —
We started out with a late departure on Friday after work heading North up towards Callaghan Lake Provincial Park for our first night. Even with the sun quite high in the evening hour for mid-July, a few stops for supplies had us burning daylight.
In most cases we would be stressed about setting up camp in the dark, but the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway washed away our worries as it hosts one of the most stunning sunsets. As we rounded West Vancouver the fiery red orb perched just above the Sunshine Coast. Then, a series of peekaboo glimpses as we cut through the mountain. A cliff down to the waters edge on the left and a cliff face up on the right. Threads of light were now just peaking through the distant mountains across the bay, casting swirls of brilliant oranges and reds across the sky as if the sky was ablaze.
We bombed straight through Squamish and started the climb past many roadside lakes and rivers as the road dipped and swerved up through the mountains. The hot summer air cooled along with the sky turning maroon with light tones of purple as we climbed higher & higher. Where the blacktop ends, our excitement grows. Diego’s now in his element traversing the logging road terrain dips and bouncing & weaving through the pot holes. It’s nearly dark as we arrive at the lake. Campers fully set up, ready to wind down the night. Little pit fires illuminate the drive in as we loop the site. Just past the lake entrance we spot one last empty campsite. Jackpot! We quickly set up our tent and then head down to the lake to stretch our legs under the stars before we retire for the night.
We awake to birds chirping and the morning light right on our tent.. It’s only 7:30 and it’s getting HOT. It quickly sinks in why this was the last camp spot available. Rookie move, but beggars can’t be choosers rolling in at dusk! Peeking out of the tent there’s not a cloud in the sky and just off to the left, the lake is dead calm with the mountain mirrored in its’ reflection. This is what it’s all about!
— Day Two —
We pack up camp quickly and grab some food in Whistler on our way North up to Joffre Lakes. After a few wrong turns and a handful of different black bear sightings, we finally arrive at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park only to see it’s packed with other hikers! Even the overflow parking lot is tight to find a space. After last night’s dirt road, Diego was charged and ready for anything so I saw my line to an overlooked spot and punched it. Up and on top of a little embankment of spare gravel for the lot, Diego is majestically propped as if out of a Mitsubishi commercial from 1998 (minus the Japanese subtitles, sound effects and anime announcer of course!). As we start walking through the maze of vehicles and tourists we enter the trail and within minutes we can already see the vivid turquoise glacier waters.
With the heavy summer heat the waters milky blue and green hues are almost inviting, teasing a refreshing cool down. We haven’t even started the ascent yet, but we can feel the burning sun beating down on us. Shifting to high gear, we start making moves to pass hikers, overnight campers and even some Hello Kitty sporting tourists. It’s a fairly steep incline that seems to just keep going. It’s not often where it levels off but when it does, you’re usually greeted by a carving of some animal.. we even spotted snoopy! Anyhow, cresting the last section towards Middle Joffre we’re immediately overwhelmed and stop in our tracks from the sheer beauty of the lake and scenic glacier backdrop. At this point in the day the sun was at its highest and we were ready for the plunge!
Needless to say.. it was freezing!!
After we collect ourselves with some light snacks and brew, we mosey on down the hill and get set up in Diego for another leg of the trip. Destination for the night: hot springs! …hopefully. With no clear map or proper directions we take off without too much worry. We’ll make the best out of where ever we end up! Hours later down a dirt road, we no longer have the same outlook but, “just another 5-10KM and if it’s not there, we’ll just double back”. We repeated that about five times over and finally roll right up to Skookumchuck Hot Springs. We made it! Well, pretty much. I was under the impression we were going to go to Sloquet, but this will do! The sun is still up and we roll up to our river front campsite to a pleasant and unexpected surprise..
D’anana! A pineapple, how random.. but hey, we weren’t complaining! For the next few hours we soaked in tubs, ate plenty and winded down the night early.
— Day Three —
The long road home. It didn’t seem so on a map only showing around 400KM or so. However the section from the hot springs to half way down Harrison Lake is marked 4×4 only.. We knew it would take longer than any normal road (obviously) but it turned out to be around 10-20KMph in many areas making 100KM stretch last nearly 4 hours! This I was not used to. The offroading was no problem, but I had a ball game to get back to and time was getting tight!
Pushing the van on every straight stretch I could trying to make up for lost time wasn’t going to make a difference. But still I tried. After we finally hit pavement at the south end of the lake we could tell something was wrong. Diego was not happy with us running him so hard. The transmission was overheating and popping in between gears and shaking at times so before any real damage we pulled over at a greasy diner to give him a break. An hour later (and after the most delicious pulled pork sandwich ever! Seriously, go to Rocko’s Diner in Mission) we decide to push for the final leg home. The rest definitely helped Diego run relatively smooth as we limped him home.
Looking back; An adventure without any adversity wouldn’t be an adventure at all, but merely an outing.