Heather Trail is located in Manning Park. Starting from the Blackwall Peak parking area we walked along the Heather Trail to get to Nicomen Lake Campsite. This was a 2-day, 1-night trip. The total hike was roughly 46km with an 1800m elevation gain to get to Nicomen Lake Campsite and back including the jaunt up to Three Brothers Mountain Peak.
Who came – Joe Meyer (trip organizer), Shu Yu Fan, Luke Mantle, Azumi, Tristan Russell, Marie Sandler, Anna Kis, Matthew Drenth, Sasha Soda, Salil Chand, Leonard Buechner, Niclas Heinsdorf, Natascha Lam, Duncan Macintyre, Charles Polloway, Taras Shyp.
Day 1 – (August.6)
Just as the sun was about to wake up, I got out of bed at 5:10 am. I quickly grabbed my prepacked sandwiches from yesterday, ate some food, and headed out the door to meet up with Joe and Tristen. After hopping into Joe’s Subaru, which he had just bought off craigslist 2 days prior, we headed off to meet up with the 13 others at the McDonald’s in Hope. After quick introductions in the Mcdonald’s parking, we organized a car congo line and drove an hour to Manning Park (As there is no service to contact one another if one got lost). Luckily we did not lose anyone and all five cars including a Tesla were able to make it all the way up the gravel path.
After some faff, we began our slow 25km ascent with our packs. Although long, the trail was not too steep as most of the elevation was gained through driving to the trailhead. On the trail, we walked past a grouse on the trail and I thought back to the time I had read a funny blog about how they are the easiest prey to catch in the alpine, weeks prior.
10km into our trip, we put our bags down to take a 2km detour to have lunch up on Three Brothers Mountain Peak. As we looked around, we could see one side seemed flat compared to the other side of the mountain.
At the top, Matthew and Natasha were busy taking photos with their professional-looking cameras, Duncan was nervously eating his warm sourdough cheese sandwich, that may have gone bad, Anna was starting to feel sick and was sleeping against the pole, and Niclas was busy trying to feed a cliff bar to a butterfly that had landed on his arm, while the rest of us were pointing out different mountain ranges we know of.
After a rejuvenating break, we headed back down to our bags and continued on our journey. Due to an ultra-marathon event going on, we would be able to take many 2-second breaks to step aside for the ultra-marathon participants. Throughout the hike, we would cheer and occasionally ask how long and how far they had to run, and to our surprise, several of the tired-looking participants had to run for 29 hours straight and travel a total of 150 miles (Roughly 240km). After this finding, we all began to wonder what type of situation would have brought them to a point where they would willingly put themselves through such torturous activity out of their own will.
After walking for several hours through the meadows, we made it to a lookout point where we took a break and waited for the others to catch up. During our wait, Charles continually offered blister tape to everyone while he taped his own foot. Meanwhile, the others were busy swatting swarms of bugs away and reapplying bug spray on themselves or directly spraying the bugs. Shu Yu, on the other hand, was well prepared with her bug net suit. From this beautiful, but insect-infested, point, the campground was only 2km away.
Once I arrived near the campsite, some of the faster group members were heading back towards us with shocked looks on their faces. They brought news to us that six tent pads had been filled and we would need to find another place to sleep.
Luckily with the team’s quick thinking, we found a good spot to pitch the tents near the lake 300m away from the actual campsite. Although packed, we were able to tightly fit all the tents in one small area.
We then had dinner (most of us had ramen) right before it got dark and then walked to the official campsite to stow our food away in the bear cache. After dinner, when the bugs died down, Joe took out his hammock and we all talked about going on exchange, watching German bread documentaries, and making imaginary pizzas.
Day 2 – (August 7)
We woke up to clear skies and one by one, we slowly had breakfast, packed up, and headed up towards yesterday’s bug-infested lookout spot to wait for the rest of the group to do the same. After waiting for a bit, the bugs were getting worse and worse so a few of us decided to continue hiking without waiting anymore.
Towards the last 3 km, many of us had sore and blistered feet. Talking about bikes, different cuisines, and complaining about how we all have work the next day kept us all from thinking too hard about the foot pain from the hike.
As soon as we arrived at the trailhead, we all let out a sigh of relief and sat in the shade of the trees to wait for the last of the VOC group. As the soles of my feet were hurting, I changed out of my hiking shoes and into slippers. Although my feet still hurt and I was walking funny, it felt a lot better to be out of those hiking boots.
After everyone arrived back at the parking, Joe, Tristan, and I headed off to the A&W in Hope. This is where I had my first A&W burger, the best burger ever (Tristan says that it may have been the 50km hike talking). After we scarfed down the burgers, we drove back to Vancouver as fast as we could to get a good night’s rest to prepare for work the next day.
I don’t know what the others were up to the next day but, I sure had a fun time getting to work at 6:00 am preparing, leading, and running around with energetic kiddos at a summer camp with feet that had never felt better! I had a good nap after that shift.
Overall, a long hike but was very scenic and fun. The weather was also 10/10, with clear skies all weekend. Thanks, Joe for organizing the trip, and the awesome VOCers that were able to come along and make this trip fantastic!