We just got back from Lightning Lake, Manning Park

3 01 2005

For those that don’t know where it is….it’s HERE

Those wanting to see pics, and not bother reading yet.  HERE

On New Year’s Day, Mrs. DragonSpeed and I headed up into Manning Park, for some winter camping, snowshoeing and skiing.  As we left Vancouver, the weather was already chilly, so there was no doubt that we’d be hitting some actual cold weather when we got to the lake.  We stopped at the Tim Horton’s at Whatcom Rd, and filled up on Coffee and gas.  Then, due to some small lack of foresight, it was into Sardis to find somewhere that was open and selling Camp Fuel.  Can you believe that place was Zellers!  I was surprised to see them open, and even more surprised that they had Camp Fuel, and for about $6 for the 4L (later comparison had the shop at Manning Park Lodge selling it at $15!!!).  That’s where we saw the 3 dogs.  They were patiently waiting for their owner.  (Who, I guess didn’t realize he had a flat – He left before we came back out, so hopefully he got at least to a tire shop).  We then zipped along a fairly empty Highway 1, and noticed that there was snow on the trees as we approached Herrling Island.  “Definitely not going to be too warm at destination” I joked.

We arrived at the Manning Park Lodge Nordic Center at around 1140, and found out that the afternoon discount for snowshoe rentals kicked in at 1200.  Perfect – Over to the restaurant to have a quick lunch.  I had a good hot bowl of Chili, while Mrs. D had a soup and sandwich combo.  Good food, and not outrageously priced.  After lunch, we rented two pairs of shoes, and poles for $36, and headed off to the campsite.  We arrived at the Lone Duck campsite, and scouted out the area.  We were the only vehicle there, so we had a bit of time.  We left everything in the truck, and headed out snowshoeing.  The lake was good and hard this time.  People had been skiing and walking on it for some time.    Mrs. D and I headed down to the end of Lightning Lake, and had a great adventure.  The fresh snow was about 30 cm deep, and it was SOO light and fluffy.  Made for great fun with the snowshoes.  We took lots of pictures, and got some great excercise.   After making it down to the end of the lake, came the hard part… returning – INTO the WIND!  We learned later, that on Saturday the windchill brought the temperature down to about -40C.  It felt like it!  It was cold going back, so we stuck to the lakeside, and on the trail to the side of the lake at times to keep out of the wind.  There was, however, no escaping it.

When we got back to the site, I went about setting up the tent, while Mrs. D set up the kitchen area.  Once those tasks were completed, she moved on to organizing the inside of the tent, while I got a fire going.  It’s tough to get a fire going when it’s cold.  The cold keeps sapping the energy away from your fire, and it has a hard time starting.  After quite a bit of wood splitting, and some hard work, the fire got going, and was nice to have, since at this point fingers and toes were feeling the effects of the cold.  Dinner on Saturday night was softshell tacos.  At least the shells would have been soft, if they weren’t frozen.  We had to heat them up, and that resulted in them being a bit toasted.   It was so cold that if a little grease dripped out of the taco, it would freeze on your hand…Ewwww.    After dinner we boiled up 3 x 1 L Nalgene bottles of water, and put them in our sleeping bags.  Hot water bottles if you will.  We also had a nice hot cup of apple cider to warm up our insides.  By now it was about 2000, and it had been dark for about 3.5 hours already.  Time for bed 🙂  By the time we got to bed, it was 2030.  Nothing goes quickly in the cold.  

Next thing you know…it’s 0830 and the camp ranger comes by to collect his $9 for camping.  “Sorry – come back later”  There was no way I was going to crawl out of my very warm and very comfortable sleeping bag to hand some guy $9 for the priveledge of having somewhere to put my tent. (That’s another rant for another entry).  We finally got up around 0930, and moved our kitchen to the shelter so that we could be out of the wind, which had picked up again.  It was VERY cold again this morning.  Our 10L jugs of water had become big blue ice cubes, and the only water that wasn’t hard was in the water bottles which we had kept in our sleeping bags.  Even Mrs D’s saline solution for her contacts was solid.

We got about preparing breakfast, and took the frozen diced onions, and frozen ham, and put them together to sautee them in the frying pan.  Once they were hot, we went to crack the eggs, and found that they were more of a slurry of icy slush.  One of them, as you can see in the pictures was actually FROZEN SOLID.  After breakfast, we decided that it was just too cold, and that x-c skiiing just wouldn’t be any fun either, so we went over to the lodge, and warmed up, then back to the site to clean up and go.  Coincidentally, by the time we finished packing it was lunch time again!  We hit the little restaurant again, and this time Mrs D had the chili while I had the Chicken Quesadilla (not on my recommendation list).  The drive back was uneventful, but the traffic was pretty steady and heavy all the way back into town from Chilliwack.  When we got back, it was SOOOOO nice to have a hot shower, and go to sleep.   Maybe I’m getting too old for this winter camping schtick.  Maybe not?  Oh well.  Hope you enjoyed the read.

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