Had never been to Cathedral Provincial Park before, so decided we’d check it out. The night before I called the Cathedral Lodge to book a truck up to Quiniscoe Lake. The lady who took the booking said there was no snow, no bears, no one up there and suggested bringing a cooler. Turns out she was wrong about everything. There was snow, there were bears (we didn’t see them but there was a notice that two adult bears were seen near Scout Lake), there were people camping and the cooler idea (a suggestion we took to heart) was not ideal to bring (can’t exactly haul that up into a tree!).
Packed up and headed off to check it out. We drove through Manning Park and then just before Keremeos headed down Ashnola River road for 30 mins, until we were at a gate. The gate was opened and we parked. We took the $90 (return) truck up to Quiniscoe Lake (where the lodge and camp site is). It took an hour of steep climbing. Shawn met a guy at Quiniscoe Lake when we got there who had hiked up and said it was the steepest hike he’d ever done and he was beat up (so glad we took the truck!) They must be making a killing at $90 a person. We heard they were taking 60 UBC students up on Monday (so glad we didn’t go then, as the campsite would have been a zoo). Pretty good take for one day I must say! They’ve definitely got a captive audience as hiking up there the 16 kms steep uphill is a tough slog.
It was late in the day (5ish) when we got there, so we put the tent up had dinner and hung out for awhile. It was FREEZING!!! Below 0 degrees. I tossed and turned all night, cause I was shivering. I had long johns on and several layers.
DAY 1 – Glacier Lake Trail to Rim Trail to close to Grimface Mountain to Ladyslipper Trail back to Quiniscoe Lake
Got packed up and headed to Glacier Lake, and then up to Rim trail. Beautiful in every direction. We headed towards Grimface Mountain. It was a bit of a scramble after Smokey the bear. Somehow we missed the sign for the Giant Cleft (we saw it on the way back and checked it out). When we got to pretty close to Grimface, Shawn looked at it to see if the conditions were good to scramble up. There was quite a bit of snow on the ledges and so he determined it wasn’t ideal. So, we just had some lunch and enjoyed the 360 views. We headed back and then turned off to the Ladyslipper trail. That was one steep descent! Very fun day for sure. Enjoyed a nice camp dinner and headed to bed. By this time we were totally surrounded by a big group camping, and they stayed up pretty late!
DAY 2 – The Boxcar and Lakeview Mountain
After another cold night (not as cold as the first night) we packed up and took the Goat Lake trail to the Boxcar. It was a scramble up. When we neared the top, I hyperventilated in total fear, it was slippery (snow/ice) it felt exposed to me, like one wrong step could lead to disaster. Yes, I’m a chicken! Shawn gave me a hand up and calmed me down. Note: I took a different route down that was not as scary. Thinking we might have veered off the safest route up a bit. It was awesome up there!! just beautiful. Then we headed down and up to Lakeview Mountain. Saw a marmot.. still hadn’t seen any goats unfortunately. Once we’d scrambled up to Lakeview Mountain, it was a nice trail down through meadow. Awesome sunny day. Loved it. Was pretty beat up once we got to the campsite. Had dinner and crashed pretty early.
DAY 3 – Red Mountain and Quiniscoe Mountain
Shawn woke me up at 6am to let me know he was heading off to Pyramid Mountain. I had seen part of the scramble from the Rim trail on day 1 and had decided it was over my head (too much exposure for me!). We had booked the 1pm truck back down to our car so I was wide awake and had a ton of time to kill. It just so happened that I ran into the park ranger and asked him how exactly one would get up to Red Mountain. The day before he had said he’d done the trail to Red Mountain, Quiniscoe and down the glacier trail in 3 hours. He suggested I go to Red Mountain and then scramble down to Quiniscoe Lake at the col between Red Mountain and Quiniscoe Mountain, especially as I was pressed for time. That became my general plan. I packed up and headed off. I know this isn’t a big deal to most people, but to me it is – this was my first proper hike alone. I have always been paranoid about “what happens if I get hurt and I’m alone”, especially in more remote places with no phone reception. But this time, I just went for it. I told the park ranger to let Shawn know where I was. I made lots of noise on the Scout Lake trail (so bears knew I was there) then headed up to Red Mountain. To my surprise, after a nice meadow trail, it became a scramble over large boulders. I went over 3 peaks with large cairns on them. I looked over at Quiniscoe peak and noticed someone on it and took a photo. I noticed them heading down towards Red Mountain. Then I started scrambling down to the col between Red Mountain and Quiniscoe Mountain… then I hear “who are you?” the person was staring up at me I said “it’s me!!”. Turns out it was Shawn!! He’d done Pyramid Mountain, headed over to Quiniscoe Mountain using the Rim trail and was now heading to Red Mountain. I was happy to see him! We took quick photos of each other and then headed off our respective ways. Instead of scrambling down at the col. I decided I’d give Quiniscoe Mountain a shot. Up I went.. then down the other side towards Glacier Trail on the other side. I ran into 5 older hikers who asked “are you hiking alone?” I said proudly “yes” then explained I had been too chicken to do Pyramid Mountain with Shawn. I was back at the Quniscoe Lake campsite soon after. I looked at my watch, it took me just a little over 3 hours! Same time as the park ranger and his marathon runner hikers! I could not believe it (I still can’t to be honest)… that’s super fast for me. Not sure how that happened. Maybe I was so worried about missing that truck? Or maybe I am much faster than I think I am? I think of myself generally as a slower hiker than most. I am really proud of myself for pushing my boundaries on this hike!
These three days, I was extremely happy. At home, I often find myself thinking about the past and future, but here surrounded by nature I feel like I’m living in the now. I’m totally present for every moment. I’m not “progressing” career wise, or building skill sets, or really doing anything more than just hiking and taking in all that is around me – and that is enough. It makes me think that perhaps a goal I should be working towards is a simpler life, one with a lot less “noise”. Cathedral Provincial Park is absolutely incredible. I loved every minute of being here. Highly recommend anyone checking it out!