(Find out how we got here by reading Pt I of our Lake Lovely Water adventure)
There’s nothing like starting off a hike, fresh-legged and non-sweaty, eager to tackle the trails that lie ahead.
We’d heard that the trail to Lake Lovely Water was hard. A slog. Grueling. As straight uphill as it gets. You hear it, but you wonder — how tough can it really be?
Of course, we had packs to contend with, and any hike seems tougher when you’re carrying gear on your back. One buddy told me about how he hired a heli drop for his gear — a more affordable option when you’re in a large group than when you’re only two. Having already dropped a couple bucks to cross the river and book the hut for the night, we didn’t want to invest much more money in this trip — or else we may as well just go to Hawaii.
The advantage of having booked the hut is that there was significantly less stuff in our packs. No need for a tent, nor for a sleeping pad (as those were provided). So was all the cooking gear and utensils — my least favourite things to pack, as they’re so bulky. All we really brought were sleeping bags, food, a change of clothes, some safety stuff, and Cedric’s camera. A light load, but not completely insignificant.
The first few minutes of the trail weren’t that bad. Then, the climbing began. And it never stopped. Or at least that’s how it felt.
My legs were already feeling pretty sore from a loooong run just a few days prior, and it didn’t take long to feel the burn. The trail eventually approaches a waterfall, and that’s when things get really real. From this point on, it all kind of blurs together.
Endless switchbacks in the forest tackling rocks, roots, and logs. Sidestepping little ravines through overgrown bushes. Hopping across rocks. More trees, more roots, more rocks. This isn’t a dirt trail that gently slopes upwards, folks — this is big steps up, relying on your arms to help hoist you up, don’t bail on that slippery rock type of hiking. I required a few breaks by the falls to rest my legs, guzzle some water, and chow down on some nuts and dried fruit.
Mercilessly, the last part is the worst. We’d been consulting Cedric’s GPS map and knew that the tightly packed elevation lines we were approaching meant steep, steep, and more steep. I soothed myself by saying that tackling this steep section meant I was almost there. Partway through Cardiac Hill (as we were later told this section is called), Cedric consulted his GPS to see how far we’d come. “We’re getting there,” he said, “but we haven’t made that much progress and it will probably discourage you to see this.” Not exactly music to my ears!
Suddenly, yellow rope appeared, helping us across branches and logs (where was this yellow rope when I needed it the past four hours?!) And there it was: the shaky suspension bridge, signalling that Lake Lovely Water and the Tantalus Hut were mere footsteps away. I bounced my way across, and there we were: Lake Lovely Water.
The first order of business was to check out the hut. We unlocked the padlock and let ourselves in. It was even better than we could have imagined: propane stoves, propane lanterns, two sleeping quarters, massive dining tables and benches, and all kinds of stuff — board games, decks of cards, old guest books, etc.
We dropped our packs, peeled off our sweaty clothes, and changed into our bathing suits for a refreshing dip in the lake. Though the forecast had called for rain, it had miraculously held off, but the clouds were rolling in and the air was getting cooler. Lake Lovely Water, lovely as it is, is wicked cold. Cedric braved it and jumped in and out, but I resorted to hanging off the dock and, one at a time, dipping in one leg then the other, one arm then the other, my hair, and splashing water everywhere else — never quite committing to full immersion.
Time to heat up. Cedric headed down the water’s edge, saw in hand (courtesy of the Alpine Club of Canada), to begin chopping up some driftwood for the wood stove. I alternated between fetching water and retrieving the cut wood. Cedric started the fire, we hung our wet clothes around the stove, and settled into our private cabin. Quaint. Charming. Blissfully quiet. Just the two of us. Ahhhh.
Suddenly, we heard a voice. A pretty loud one. We peered out the window and could see someone standing on the suspension bridge. Darn — so much for having the place to ourselves. A person appeared on the other side of the bridge. Then another. And another. And another…
A gaggle of 20-year-olds made their way up the steps towards the cabin, chattering loudly. I waved at them, heart sinking a little bit as I realized our peaceful retreat was taking a sharp change of direction.
More in the next post!