On A Clear Day You Can See Forever
By Jane & Brent Cassie
Contributors to Travelink Publishing
"It’s like being on top of the world!" I exclaimed to Brent, as we took our final steps onto the rim trail. From 2,500m (8,500 ft) elevation, under crystal clear skies, we enjoyed the panoramic pleasures of the Northern Cascades, the Coastal Range, and the Thompson Plateau. En route, we had stood within metres of four molting mountain goats as they grazed on alpine vegetation, and were also entertained by ptarmigans, mountain chickadees and many other fine-feathered friends. We also looked forward to sighting Cathedral Park’s geological attraction, ‘Stone City,’ where its massive rock formations are the result of eons of weathering erosion.
Now, hiking to such an elevation, boasting views of this magnitude, people might think that we were either serious mountaineers, or that it would have taken us hours of trail time to get there. The answer neither. The fact was, that because our home-base, Cathedral Lakes Lodge, was already located at 2050m (6,800 ft), we were able to enjoy these sensational offerings after just two short hours of hoofing it and with only a few past hikes under our belt!
Our journey had begun the day before, commencing with a twenty-two scenic kilometer drive through the Ashnola Valley that led to the getaway’s base camp. We were united with others, including a group of camera-clad enthusiasts and the Goodwins, a family of six, who had traveled across Canada, partially in pursuit of this wilderness experience. Headed by trusty drivers, our four-wheel drive transporters bounced through pot-holes, swayed around curves, and climbed the 1200m (3,900 ft) safely to our accommodations at Quiniscoe Lake.
Nestled amongst spruce, fir, and vibrantly glowing Golden Larch in the fall months, the two-story Bavarian-style accommodation overlooks Quiniscoe Lake below towering snow-capped peaks. A hot tub promises strained hiking muscles a bit of therapeutic reprieve, and the guest lounge offers board game opportunities in front of a roaring fire a pleasant replacement for T.V. and Nintendo! Tied to the nearby dock, boats await rowers who have hopes of reeling in the plentiful cutthroat trout, and canoes invitingly promise a peaceful paddle on the still waters. A myriad of trails, well-marked by stone-piled cairns, lead to a chain of seven crystal-clear, trout-filled lakes and a full range of hiking options. From easy lower-level walks to alpine meadow destinations, there is something for everyone.
The friendly staff along with owner, Richard Padmos, warmly greeted us upon arrival. After providing a map and mealtime information, we were shown to our lodge room. Finished in warm cedar, it was clean and comfortable, and boasted that spectacular lake view. In addition to the six lodge rooms, there are unique self-contained units and cottages accommodating fifty-six wilderness seekers in total.
In order to break in our hiking legs, we headed for the Diamond Trail, which was a mere five km in length and showed an elevation gain of only two hundred and twenty-five meters. The green carpeted forest floor bordered our well-trod path, and the interspersing of purple heather, Indian paintbrush and sunshine yellow buttercups in the alpine meadows created a picture postcard setting. Hoary marmots played peek-a-boo as we trekked, and shy picas whistled but kept their distance.
We arrived home ravished and just in time to hear the dinner bell. One thing is for certain at the Cathedral Lakes Lodge nobody leaves the dining room feeling hungry! All meals were included with our stay and the international cuisine, created by Swiss-born and trained, Chef Patrick Krahenbuhl, were gastronomically delicious. Some of his buffet specialties included succulently tender lamb, sensational beef curry, and a superb lemon-garnished salmon. Breakfast pamperings continued the following morning with a starter of home-baked granola, fresh fruit and yogurt, followed by a full breakfast selection of pancakes, bacon, eggs the works!
When it came time to leave, we both lingered a little longer reflecting on the past two days. Like one big happy family, we had dined together with others, shared our exciting alpine experiences, and developed new friendships that would be a lasting part of this treasured memory.
If You Go:
Cathedral Lakes Lodge
Slocan Park, BC V0G 2E0 Canada
Phone: Toll free: 1-888-CLL-HIKE
From the city of Vancouver BC: Highway #1 to Hope junction and Highway #3 to Keremeos BC
For our State-side neighbors: Through Sumas, take Highway #1 to Hope junction and Highway #3 to Keremeos BC
Approximately 3km west from Keremeos, you will see Cathedral Lakes Lodge sign on your right
Proceed across the red ‘covered’ bridge for 22 km (30mins.)
Pre-arranged time for pick up will be arranged when booking
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