Last weekend, we were convinced we wanted to see more of Manning Park after coming to its entrance unintentionally the week before, so we checked out the BC Parks website and picked a trail. As an aside – let me just tell you that I am so impressed with the wealth of in depth and current information on the BC Parks site.
We picked the Heather Trail with the aim of hiking for about 7 hours and visiting the 3 Brothers Mountains (or however far we got in 3.5-4 hours before we turned back).
Let me preface this by saying that I recently joined the local gym, and with that came a free personal training session – which I had taken the day before this hike. My trainer was fantastic, but I was barely able to walk, nevermind hike, the next day!
So, Saturday morning, we loaded up a picnic lunch of sandwiches, granola bars, fruit and cucumber, as well as a ton of water, and hit the road. We didn’t realize just how far into Manning Park we’d be going, and it turned out that Heather Trail involves driving about 70kms outside of Hope, up Highway 3, and then….then, you turn left and head up a “road”.
This “road” is a one lane (with 2 way traffic sharing that 1 lane) switchback with no rails on the sheer cliff side. It was terrifying! The road is a dirt road, and the surface resembles a washboard in most places. I was convinced we were going to die, but I’m always convinced we’re going to die – just ask Stu.
We got to the top, where the first access point to the Heather Trail is, and had a bite to eat before setting out.
The terrain wasn’t really what we were expecting. The trail started out as a gravel trail, then a dirt trail (which was crazy dusty because it’s been so dry lately). It was more hilly than mountainous, but we’re used to the hikes on the North Shore – it was nothing like that.
It was a walk through the mountain meadow!
There were so many flowers, and it smelled heavenly up there. I have never been on a hike where the air smelled that good.
Considering the hike was a bit remote, we were a little surprised to see as many people as we did, but I think we passed 4 other groups of 2-4 people – all ages too.
It’s funny, every time we pass an older couple hiking, Stu always asks if that’s going to be us when we get to that age. I guess it’s good he’s thinking about hiking with me into our golden years.
We passed a couple of fluorescent tree tags that said ‘Fat Dog 100’ – and I new immediately that it must be referring to an ultra marathon! How cool is that?! We didn’t see any runners, but it was going on that day, which I found out when I came home and googled, and sure enough it was!
I was hoping that a slow start to our hike would shake my legs out and make them less sore, but it really wasn’t helping, and I was struggling with up hills and down hills…and you know, this was a ‘hike’ so it’s pretty much all uphills and downhills, so we walked for a little over 45 minutes, and then turned around and headed back to the car, for a total non-strenuous hiking time of 1.5 hours.
We stretched out a bit, and headed back down the mountain – here’s the scary road –
We drove to the first lookout point –
This neat board has arrows pointing to all the nearby mountains, with tags of what each mountain is called –
We could also see what looked like a very refreshing lake in the distance (I think it was Lightning Lake) –
Stu had brought a ziploc bag full of local cherries, and was going to enjoy them at the lookout point, but ended up sharing them with 2 super friendly chipmunks –
Here’s the 2nd one –
They were so cute and ate the cherries like a person would eat an apple! It was obvious that they were used to being fed by tourists, because Stu had them eating out of his hand –
This little guy was also pretty friendly and curious about what was going on –
He seemed to like hanging out –
So Stu gave him a cherry too –
I know, I know! Don’t feed the wildlife!! He doesn’t listen to me. Actually, it looks like nobody pays attention to the signs about not feeding the wildlife, because the ground was completely littered with peanut shells!
After a while of checking out the views and watching the chipmunks and the friendly bird, a raven showed up –
And the chipmunks and bird disappeared. Neither of us had ever seen a raven this close! It was pretty neat. Around the same time, a family and their 4 little boys showed up and while the boys were extremely well behaved and curious (asking Stu questions about the raven), the mother of this bunch was fairly loud and obnoxious and completely harshed our zen, so we jumped in the car and headed the rest of the way down the mountain.
On the way back, we got caught up in traffic because the highway we were on was closed due to an accident, and they were detouring people off at the exit before the accident. It took us 2 whole hours to get from the exit before to the detouring off exit. So, we spent just about 8 hours in the car in total that day (there and back), for an hour and a half hike. It was still worth it though!