March 12, 2016

Hiking at Alice Lake Provincial Park ~ Jeem goes out of bounds

Close to Brackendale is the highly popular Alice Lake Provincial Park. In the summer this is one of the province's busiest parks and a favourite for locals and tourists alike. The 411 hectare park was established in 1956. Before that, the area was heavily logged.

The are four fresh water lakes that dominate the park, and Alice Lake is the largest, which isn't saying much as it is only a few hundred metres across at any given point.

There's a walkabout around Alice Lake, which is quite wonderful and easily accessible for most. Along the walk there are many picnic tables, benches and barbecue spots, and it's easy to see why this park is packed with people during the summer months.

It was incredibly warm for the first weekend in March and the skies were a brilliant blue. Signs of spring were everywhere, and it was just what Jeem y Sherry had hoped to find on this brief weekend away from Vancouver.

Alice Lake is surrounded by mountains and forest that can be quite dense in parts. A variety of trails provide for more adventurous hiking and after doing the walking trail around the lake, Sherry y Jeem decided to hike DeBeck's Hill Trail, slightly more difficult and certainly steeper as it made its way up the hill named for a logging company's founder.

Intially Jeem y Sherry were walking together, but as Jeem stopped to take photographs, Sherry walked ahead of Jeem.  Not necessarily a problem, as this often happens on their travels. Ten paces behind, always ten paces behind.

But this time, as the forest enveloped the trail and the sun disappeared in the trees, and the pathway itself narrowed dramatically, Jeem fell further and further behind. Eventually Sherry was nowhere to be seen.

Jeem tried to catch up to Sherry, but to no avail, and, in those moments of transcendental panic that seem to happen to people from Buenos Aires, Jeem began to worry. His major fear was of bears and something he had seen in a video shown in an immigration class he attended. "This is about the time of year  when hibernating bears come out of their winter's slumber and ... they are probably hungry," he thought to himself as he looked around. Nervously.For reasons unclear Jeem decided to venture off the path and cut through the dense forest to meet up with Sherry.

In theory, this might have worked, if only he had any real knowledge of the area, and was prepared, physically, and mentally, to carry out his plan. "It's a short cut," he said aloud in an attempt scare away bears.

And so.... three hours later, Jeem was found, muddied, bloodied, bruised and dehydrated by two park rangers, as he stumbled onto the path not thirty metres from where he started. After a rambling and largely incoherent conversation with the rangers, Jeem was released into the care of Sherry after she promised, on the Argentino's behalf, that he would never visit Alice Lake Provincial Park again.

Alice Lake is a beautiful place, and the trails are great, especially when recalling the sage advice of a much wiser man, "No short cuts!"

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

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