It’s a toss up between the breathtaking views, the quaint cafes, the smiling people and the tight-knit community, but perhaps one of the most incredible things about Revelstoke is how quickly you can access the mountains. Around here, it doesn’t require hours of driving to get outside to play: in Revelstoke, we actually get to use the expression “right out the back door”…and mean it.
One of those “out the back door” spots is Mount Revelstoke National Park. A couple friends and I had heard the rumours of a beauty hike to Jade Lake: a trail snaking through fields of wildflowers, leading to a lakeside campsite, boasting the the world’s most scenic outhouse.
We had to see it for ourselves.
Planning for an overnight hiking trip like this is pretty straightforward. Don’t take much in, leave nothing behind. Lock in the standard: tent, sleeping bag, birthday suit for a dip in the glacier lakes that will knock the wind out of you (very light to pack), burner, sleeping bags, tents, bug spray, bug spray, bug spray. Last minute, toss a garbage bag in the back of your pack in the off chance that it rains. Unlikely, but you just never know in the mountains.
Some hardcore types go all the way to Jade Lake and back in a day, head-down crushing, but we were more bent on cruising in, setting up camp, making spaghetti and taking in a meteor shower. So we set out at a leisurely ten o’clock and settled into a casual pace up and over the first couple of fields and rocky outcroppings until we hit our lunch spot at Eva Lake. This is where things started to get interesting.
Murphy’s Law is the only law with a really sharp sense of humour. We were in shorts, tank tops, old hiking boots, Blundstones. You know: casual. Big black thunderclouds started to loom at us, lightning crackling off in the distance, thunder dancing dangerously closer; the distance test of which none of us could remember. Cutting lunch short, we headed up into the next section of trail, a rocky ledge cutting across the side of the steep embankment of Eva Lake, heading up into the alpine and over the pass to the descent into Jade Lake (great timing for the most exposed part of the trail).
Within minutes, we weren’t worried about rain anymore. It was full on sleeting. Ducking into a treed spot on the top of a cliff overlooking the lake, we pulled garbage bags over our packs and reached into our bags for warmer layers. Our accompanying guard dog growl-whimpered with every flash and crack of lightning and thunder. The sky across the valley turned a deep rose, illuminating the ridge with a glow that had “forest fire” written all over it.
We were forgiven. The sleet storm pounded over our little refuge, and then the clouds broke. “Let’s move, ladies,” chimed one of the musketeers. We crested the ridge at a little less casual of a pace and when we came to the top, took our packs off to push up to the lookout: debating whether to summit a peak we had spotted on the way up. The lookout gave us the answers we needed: 1. ditch the peak plans, 2. get to campsite, 3. it’s wine o’clock.
We descended the last section of trail into the Jade Lake valley, glimmering a bright blue against the rocky walls that surrounded it, the ice-clad peaks of the Monashee mountains dappling the skyline in the distance. As we arrived at the campsite, the sun broke out of the clouds and warmed us while we ditched our boots for bare feet and filled up our water bottles in the rushing stream behind the site. Two ladies on tents, a third on wine distribution and the fourth on dinner. We poached a boulder and set up a citronella force field around us as the sun set and the lake valley deepened its colours for the evening. Spaghetti slurping in the dusk, stories floating around in the dark and laughs settling into the meteor shower that put us all to sleep.
When the sun bore into our tents in the morning, we knew the drill: get to that outhouse. It was everything we had imagined and more.
Nature then drew us a very refreshing morning bath, and we plunged into the icy blue: just a few girl friends shrieking and splashing, all knowing that this moment would be one of those that none of us would forget into our hip replacement and walker days.
The hike out was full of sunshine, blisters, laughs. We staged a few photos on the top of crests that cut off our heads, or feet, or blurred the view. So we stopped trying to take the visuals back home with us via digital camera and just let them burn into our minds. The dense old growth rainforest bleeding into the giant cedars and pines. The sub-alpine making offerings of purple and white and yellow flowers to its superior altitude. The ever changing sky: from bright blue to rich orange to hazy pink to charcoal grey to blue black, dancing with night lights. Hip flexors waxing and waning, chats rising and falling, silence at the parking lot when it was time to load our watchful leader (Grz) into the back of the truck and head down off the mountain.
No matter how sore your muscles, you never want these trips to end. Then you remember you put Salt and Vinegar chips in the truck for when you got back to it! That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call the sharp bite of the end of a magical weekend.
Happy 100th Anniversary Mount Revelstoke!