I was cordially invited to be Erin’s plus one at her cousins wedding in Kelowna. Me, not being a fan of work, opted to take an entire week off. Erin did the same so her and I could make the most of our trip. We arrived in Kelowna on Thursday, around dinner time, after making the drive from Edmonton all at once. We enjoyed dinner with Erin’s parents, who had arrived earlier that week. We then promptly went to bed.
The next day, the wedding was scheduled for 4 pm, so in the morning we hiked up Knox Mountain. We got thoroughly lost on the way to the mountain and ended up parking in a nearby suburb and hiking to, then up the mountain. The way up served as a pleasant reminder that I was out of shape. Once at the top we met a nice couple who was kind enough to take our picture for us.
After Knox Mountain, I was invited to accompany Erin and her family to a few local wineries for tastings. I came along but didn’t taste much, due to my strong disliking of wine. I did however take the opportunity to grab a few bottles of wine for various family members. Come hunting season I may need the brownie points.
Eventually the time came for the wedding. It was an outdoor venue at the golf course, the bride was beautiful, the groom was handsome, and the ceremony was excellent. Then while the wedding party took photos, I somehow found myself at the bar, drinking gin and tonics for the first time since the Yasawas with the singing Aussies. The dinner was delicious, the speeches were heartfelt, the MC made Erin and I, as well as many others, play some silly games as part of the entertainment. I continued to drink gin and tonics as though there was a competition, and I was going for a landslide victory. Eventually the night wound down and the wedding ended and we all shuffled out, content with the events of the evening.
We had originally intended to drive to Yoho national park the day after the wedding. We decided, possibly due in part to the bar at the wedding, that we didn’t feel up to making the five hour drive to go camping that day. So we book another night in another hotel and Erin went with her family to a few more wineries. While Erin was doing more tours, I decided to go check out the local museums. As luck would have it. The two museums I wanted to see, The Okanagan Heritage Museum and The Okanagan Military Museum, shared a parking lot. I was impressed by both and highly recommend them. After all that Erin and I spend a little time on the beach and then joined most of the wedding party and family for a small barbecue that evening.
The next day we made the lengthy drive to Yoho. Due to several stops to grab supplies, and some time slowing construction zones, we arrived at our trail head late in the day. We also made a point of stopping at a place called “The Log Barn.” On the way to Kelowna we kept seeing bizarre billboards for the place and when we drove passed we saw a big main building, a few small ones and a lot of strange statues that didn’t appear to have a main theme… So we still had no idea what it was, so we figured we’d better stop in on the way back. After going there and looking around I’m still not entirely sure how to describe it, it is a takeout restaurant/candy shop/gift shop/Mennonite butcher shop/petting zoo/tourist attraction IS the simplest way to put it. Not making sense? OK heres some pictures.
After thoroughly inspecting the establishment and not making much sense of it, we grabbed some food and headed to Yoho. Our plan was pretty simple, drive to Yoho and hike to our first camp site at Yoho lake, about 4 km in on the first day. The second day make the 11 km hike along the scenic Iceline trail to Little Yoho for our second night. Then on the third and final day make the 10 km hike back to the truck and drive home to Edmonton.
We arrived at the trail head at about 5 PM and packed last minute on the tailgate of my truck. I was rather grumpy at the time because I hate being in a rush, especially for something like back country camping when its getting this close to winter. Luckily Erin’s sunny disposition got us through and onto the trail. The hike was 4 km of what felt like straight up, I sweated and wheezed my way to the top, all the while wondering if maybe a ladder would have been an improvement to the uphill character of the trail. Eventually we made it to the top and set up camp and were able to cook and eat a can of stew just as daytime hid behind the mountains. That night Erin and I slept inside our sleeping bags with a survival rating of -6 Celsius. Keep in mind those ratings are survival ratings and NOT comfort ratings… also they’re usually theoretical. Erin had a sleeping bag liner to help, and had fashioned her buff into a toque for extra warmth, and I had packed a fleece blanket. It hit nearly zero that night and I am prone to tossing and turning, the fleece blanket quickly fell off and I froze. Despite going to bed in fresh dry clothes and being cold all night, when I woke up in the morning I still felt damp and a little miserable, but that’s part of the fun of camping. I got dressed, we made some oatmeal for breakfast, then we packed up and headed out.
In the morning mist and shade of the trees, the hike was initially a bit chilly. We gained elevation quite quickly and pretty early in our hike we found ourselves just above the treeline.
As the hike progressed we gained even more elevation and found ourselves walking along the rocky slopes with little to no vegetation in the area. The hike was very scenic, we took a lot of breaks for beef jerky and trail mix, and bumped into a surprising amount of hikers considering the time of year.
The trail was long and scenic, it occasionally jutted out to a higher vantage point, most of which I declined to climb due to my crippling fear of heights. Eventually our trail dipped back below the treeline and along the various switchbacks that lead us to a bridge across a wide, shallow, fast moving, gravel bottomed stream near the Alpine Club’s cabin which was only a few hundred yards from our campsite.
We found the campsite and I was happy to see we were the only campers there. We set up the tent and made our bed then went off to cook some rice and chicken. I cooked mine first and discovered that the camp stove runs too hot and burns the rice on the bottom of the pot while still leaving the rest of the rice crunchy in the middle. I started to choke it down while Erin cooked hers, she opted to add too much water and make it more of a soup to prevent the burning, she claims it was actually pretty good. I guess looks can be deceiving. After dinner we sat on the river bank and enjoyed a chocolate bar we smuggled into the food bag. The weather looked like it was about to rain so we retired to the tent to chat and play games on Erin’s phone. Just before dark I decided I better go to the food bags and grab a quick granola bar for a snack before bed. I tucked my pajama pants into my socks, so as not to get mud on them, put my boots on and stepped out of the tent, I wasn’t going far so I didn’t bother to put on my glasses. Ill bet I looked good sweat pants tucked into my socks and squinting at everything, good thing we were alone. While I was Grabbing some snack action out of the food bag I saw a blurry looking man walk into the common area of the campsite, so I shouted a hello to him. He then froze on the spot, looked at me, said nothing, then walked away into the bush… If you’re ever back country camping and want to creep out other campers, just do exactly what that guy did. It was so strange I was wondering if my eyes were just so bad that I imagined a person there. After my snack I went back to the tent and grabbed my glasses before heading to the outhouse. On my way too and from the bathroom I looked around and didn’t see any other tents set up… It was the strangest thing, where did that guy come from… or go?
That night Erin traded me the sleeping bag liner for the fleece blanket, and we both fashioned our buffs into toques. It didn’t get quite as cold the second night and I slept substantially better. Unfortunately when we awoke in the morning it was raining quite steadily. We packed up camp in the rain, Erin dawned her rain gear, and we fashioned me some rain gear out of garbage bags because I have been continually neglecting to buy some. We decided to skip breakfast and eat snacks and granola bars on the trail.
We made the soggy hike out, all the while I was day dreaming about gin and tonics. The 10 Km hike was mostly downhill and not too rocky so we were able to hike it in just under two hours. We made it back to the truck to discover that in our rush I had left a soft sided cooler in the box of my truck. Some birds were kind enough to empty it for me, but it was up to Erin and I to pick up all the garbage they had spread out. We unloaded our bags into the truck and headed out. We hit the first fast food joint we could find, and on the drive back we stopped at the tourist office and bought a map for the area I plan on hunting in a few weeks… But Ill tell you all about that later.
Eventually we made it home, unpacked our gear and dried out tent out in the garage. I have decided that maybe I should buy some rain gear… maybe.
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