The lengths I go to for a 30 second “swim”

It was a very wet and rainy September. Maybe Vancouver has historically been pretty wet in September, but since moving here in 2011, I don’t recall it being this wet and cold. So when I got a text from my buddy Adam, saying there was a break in the weather the following day, and if I wanted to go for a hike, I jumped at the opportunity. Adam had suggested the hike to Watersprite Lake. I did a quick search online, took one look at the pristine lake, and promptly agreed that that was our destination for the day. 

Now, I had been pretty active through the summer, mainly with kiteboarding, but I had also done a decent amount of wakesurfing, and other water activities. What I hadn’t done at all though, was hiking.

The details of the hike: Approximately a 17km round trip, has about 660 meters of total elevation gain, and according to the directions, it takes around 7 hours.

We got off to a late start due to a chiropractor appointment that could not be canceled at the last minute. Therefore, we didn’t leave North Vancouver until about 10:30am and it takes about 1.5 hours to get to the trailhead! It should be a cake walk, right?!?!

Since I had never really been a serious hiker, I scrambled around to try to figure out what I needed to bring. I guess I’m so used to needing a lot of gear for kiting and snowboarding! 

What I packed: 3.5 litres of water mixed with electrolytes, (since I have an ileostomy, I need to consume more fluids than someone who has a large intestine. I hate getting dehydrated.) I also brought energy bars and beef jerky to keep me fueled up for the day. I packed my camera, rain jacket and insulation layer too, incase the weather turned. Some other things that have always lived in my pack, no matter what I am doing, is a first aid kit, duct tape, head lamp, toilet paper and a spare set of my ostomy supplies.

It doesn’t look like much, but man was it heavy!

As soon as my chiropractor appointment was finished, Adam had picked me up and we were off. Once arriving at the forestry road that leads to the trailhead, we had double and triple checked the directions, pulled up the map and cruised down the rough and bumpy road. After about 30 minutes of careful driving and almost no u-turns, we had made it to the trailhead. The first thing that caught my eye was the outhouse!

Once we had changed and were ready, I headed over to the outhouse to empty my bag. It’s always best to start off empty! And, wow, I have got to say, I was quite impressed with the outhouse. There was a shelf or two built in, so toilet paper can be placed within easy reach (and in case of an emergency, a good place to lay out ostomy supplies if the bag needs changing.) The toilets are built in such a way that the waste decomposes faster. To be honest, I do not remember it even being smelly, which, for an outhouse, is a pretty huge accomplishment! (I also regret not taking any pictures, inside or out, but for 2 reasons; 1: At the time, I didn’t think I would write about this, and 2: Who wants to see pictures of outhouses????)

We started up the trail at about 12:15pm. Sunset was to be around 7:20pm so we at least wanted to be back to the car by that time, (though we had our headlamps just in case).

The first part of the trail was pretty straightforward and flat. There were a few “bridges” over some very wet portions, but nothing crazy. Mostly, just watching our footing, and pushing the pace. 

Eventually, we reached a rocky outcrop, offering gorgeous panoramic views, of the valley and mountains surrounding us. We could also see the higher peaks, dusted in a fresh layer of snow! Even though it was only September, it got us excited and talking about the great potential for the upcoming winter ski season! 

At about 2pm, while we had covered a lot of ground, we hadn’t gained much elevation, so we knew we were in for some steep sections, before reaching the summit. There were some fun, yet challenging scrambly bits, where careful footing was our main focus. Clambering through a rockslide area, small creeks to cross, and certainly a lot of elevation, was made up in the final section. 

At 3:30pm, we finally crested the last rise to the summit of the lake. We were greeted with such a stunning view. The lake was a spectacular glacial melt blue, that I thought could only be photoshopped, and made for a perfect, glass smooth mirror! My girlfriend said the backdrop reminds her of the Dolomite Mountains in Italy. We dropped our packs and soaked up the experience, clicking away as many photos as possible, while the lighting and conditions were perfect. 

There was another outhouse at the lake. The same design and features as the one below that I had taken advantage of, before Adam and I had plunged into the lake, for one of the most cold numbing and most refreshing swims of my life! Needless to say, with a water temperature at just above freezing, I did not stay in for very long! I must also admit that there was another group up at the lake at the same time as us, which if they were not there, I may have taken quite a lot longer to muster up the courage to get in. It’s much easier to do these things with an audience to impress! But damn that water was COLD!!!!!

After getting warmed up and taking in the view with food and drink, it was sadly time to make it back down to the car before dark. We left the lake at around 4:30, a little too late for comfort, and man, I was hurting. My body was screaming at me. I had developed some tender blisters on my heels, my knees were also flaring up, and I felt I was chafing quite a bit. I wonder if stretching first would have helped in any way? At least I had the chiropractor loosen me up before I left! I know I was going slower than Adam would have liked, but I was pushing myself as hard as I could. I was also trying to be wise as I do try! I didn’t want to fall and get hurt, only to have to move even slower. The top section was a sufferfest for me, but once we picked our way through some of the trickier and steeper patches, I could breathe a sigh of relief and pick up the pace.

We made it back to the parking lot by about 6:45 and still had plenty of light. Our total time from the parking lot and back, was about 5.5 hours, including an hour of hanging out at the top. So if I may say so myself, that’s not too bad!

I of course, certainly paid for this hike. My body hurt for days, but without a doubt, it was worth it! Next time, I will definitely stop and deal with the blisters before they become an issue, I even had the duct tape!!

As for how the bag performed, well, I emptied it once at the beginning, and once up at the top, and then once again after dinner. Other than it filling up slowly, it had no impact on my day, other than allowing me to do the hike! This was my 6th day wearing the bag, and it was due for a change, but it held up really well, and I didn’t have any issues. My general wear time is between 5 and 7 days, but depending on my activity level, and how often I am in the water, it can be shorter. So I was pretty stoked to be able to go on this hike near the end of my bags life cycle, and have complete confidence in it!

Stay tuned for my next exciting adventures from the bag.. Hmm.. maybe I will surprise you and it will be something you least expect! Take care and enjoy this amazing world at every opportunity!

2 thoughts on “The lengths I go to for a 30 second “swim””

  1. Way to go Alex!! Magnificent photos. Colored Lake pics remind me of hiking the Himalayas (Tibet) several years ago and weeping for the spiritual beauty of the place. I think Limestone colors the lakes there. (You should visit your cousin James living in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China) You are amazing – overcoming challenges that would sideline others. We are very proud of you…Aunt Marilyn & Uncle Harold xxoo

    1. Thanks so much! Yes, I would love to go visit James in China, and explore all over the world! Hopefully I’ll be able to get something in the works.
      Love you both.

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