Passing through this park many times, mainly on my cycling journeys from Vancouver to Calgary and Jasper, I had thought of this high point as a nemesis –the gruelling test between Hope and Manning park that rallies cyclist against vigorous ascend.
However, this trip was for leisure, so, I put my aversion aside to bask in the natural beauty found at the always enjoyable Manning Park. Cabin # 16, provided the comforts of home and served as the epicentre from which to explore this vast playground in spite of it’s close proximity to the highway.
Our mandate for the adventure was to explore the network of trails, photography for Becky and scouting of possible future hikes. We were not disappointed as the area provided a vast selection of treks for all fitness levels and there seemed to be a photo op at every bend in the trail.
Upon arrival, we had just enough time for a short jaunt so we determined “Lightening Lake Loop” fit our needs. This relatively flat trail is easily accessed from the Lightening Lake day use area and follows the picturesque shoreline of the scenic chain of lakes. Crossing Rainbow Bridge, the view of the lake was the perfect opportunity to capture mirrored tree images in the water as the sun began to set on the hills in the background. We chose the shorter loop and turned for home, delighted with the ability to stretch our legs after the drive and plan our next days adventure.
Strawberry Flats/Three Falls was our destination for Day 2 and the suggested 3 hour hike was closer to 5 as we became engrossed in snapping photos of the multitude of butterflies fluttering around in the fields of thistle and wildflowers. This ‘out and back’ trail passes Shadow Falls, Nepopekum Falls and ends at Derek Falls, an ideal setting for lunch.
The summit of Windy Joe was our destination for Day 3. Another out and back, this trail provided some needed cardio and offered a lovely 360 view of the summits in the distance. Windy Joe is both the starting point and the end point for those amazing hikers choosing to trek the Pacific Crest Trail. The infamous PCT is the gruelling 2,663 mile trek that stretches from the U.S., Mexico border to the U.S., Canada border at the edge of Manning park. Recently documented in the 2014 film Wild, Cheryl Strayed journeyed this treacherous path to make amends with her turbulent past and I felt emotionally moved by the courage of those who have taken on this daunting challenge. Sonja and I could not resist following the trail for a short distance to see if we might find a logbook or some other form of celebratory signature left upon the earth, alas, we found no trace.
This vast area offers something for everyone…families, backpackers, campgrounds, kayak rentals and the creature comforts of cabin or lodge rooms. There were trails that were calling my name (as always) and “Heather” was one of those beckoning to be explored upon return. Plotting our next visit, an overnight trek starting with Heather and continuing on to the Three Brothers trail captured the fancy of Becky, Sonja, Sunni and myself. We will see you again Manning park!