February 15-16, 2016.
Aaron and I headed for the Canadian border for a quick winter getaway, courtesy (in part) of Outdoor Project. I was on assignment to review the Journeyman Lodge, a backcountry retreat in Callaghan Country, BC.
Snowshoe to Journeyman Lodge
We arrived at the ski area mid-morning, where we checked in and picked up a map and instructions on how to get to the lodge. They offered to pack our supplies in via snowmobile, for a fee, which we declined. Instead we were going to have a 9 mile snowshoe adventure to the lodge with our overnight bags on our backs. Training weight, right?
The skies were gray. Thick clouds covered up the high peaks; white glaciers and snowfields melted into the murky air. We followed signs for the Finger Lakes Loop. The bright yellow, plastic markers were pretty easy to follow. Although there was a lot of snow on the ground, there were some wet areas that required stepping over flowing streams of water. The lakes were entirely covered with fluffy, pillowy snow. For February, the air was moderately warm. Coupled with the hard work we were doing snowshoeing uphill with more gear than we usually carry, it was challenging to keep a comfortable body temperature. Canada, eh? Not as cold as we expected.
After winding through the Finger Lakes area, the trail popped out on a well-groomed snowmobile/ski road. We followed this long and uninteresting road under the gloomy skies for miles and miles. Occasionally we’d see a snowmobile or a pair of skiers with no backpack zip by and we’d remind ourselves that we CHOSE to do this the hard way.
Just a couple of miles from the lodge we started getting some teaser views of the surrounding mountains. THAT reminded us why we were out here. It was beautiful. Four and a half hours after we began we caught sight of the lodge. We were here! And in decent time, too.
It felt so good to get that backpack off my back. We checked in to the lodge and assessed our surroundings. Yes, this would do. There was a roaring fire in the fireplace. Lots of cozy chairs and couches. Meals were prepared for us. And we had our own private bunks with a little storage area for our things. It was delightful. Luxurious for what I’m used to.
We relaxed, read, filled up on snacks and chatted with our fellow lodge-mates. Dinner was a fantastic feast. Post-dinner we reveled in the companionship of our new friends and listened to an impromptu guitar concert from the lodge host. What a unique way to experience the backcountry.
The next morning, the weather was the polar opposite of yesterday. The air was crisp and cold. The sun shone brilliantly, blinding anyone without sunglasses. It was sad to leave on such a perfect day. I was a little jealous of the backcountry skiiers who were heading for those luscious mountain slopes. Oh well, we’d still have a nice snowshoe adventure back out.
Fresh snow had fallen overnight, meaning we’d have to cut fresh tracks in the powder. Of course we were the only fools to snowshoe out here. Everyone else skied. Aaron took the lead and crashed through the unbroken snow. The trail led downhill at a gentle grade.
After only about 30 minutes, the clouds snuck back in and covered the blue sky. We enjoyed it while it lasted. The forest was beautiful with the new snow clinging to tree trunks and branches. But the temperatures warmed slightly as we lost elevation and we found ourselves again in a dark, wet, spring-like forest.
When we reached the parking lot we stopped in the warming hut to eat our lunch and take a load off. We swigged some water and dropped off our packs in the car, then set out for the short jaunt to Alexander Falls.
The trail led steeply down to the river beneath the falls. There wasn’t an awesome viewpoint, and flagging got in the way of every photo angle, but it was pretty nonetheless. There were several other people making their way down there, seemingly pretty concerned about the steepness of the trail.
We looked at the waterfall and returned to the car. We were pretty spent after all that snowshoeing over the past two days. This trip was a fun break from the usual, and gave us the opportunity to visit a place that had not been on our radar.