Semaphore Lakes has been on my bucket list for a while, so I was stoked to finally go there this past weekend. I had tried to recruit another family for our adventure, but since we were still expecting snow I did not manage to convince anyone to join us. Instead we were joined by a group of young VOCers: Taniya, Crystal, Emily and Vincent.
We all met up at the trailhead around 9.30am, but they soon left us behind as F had decided to hike by herself. The trail was very muddy at the bottom, which for most probably would be a nuisance, but for F it was great fun. After an hour or so of hiking and poking the mud, F decided to go in the backpack. We hiked for little hour before stopping for sunscreening and snacking. Then another hour or so before arriving at the lake. The snow patches started about half way up the trail, but there were not continues snow until right before the lakes. At and above the lake there were continues and skiable snow. F had just fallen asleep as we arrived, so we got camp set up before she woke up again. The rest of our group had been lounging by the larger of the lakes, but joined our camp at the upper lake. In the afternoon Christian did a traverse of the railway group from Face to Locomotive on skis. Took him about 4 hours. Hopefully he will add a short TR later in the week.
In the mean time the other VOCers attempted to summit Locomotive. They had left an hour after Christian and he met them on his way down. They had almost reach the south ridge at this point in time. Christian did a quick time estimate with them, and it was decided that they would leave the summit for another day and just go check out the view from the ridge. Despite not reaching the summit I am sure they all had a great time and I also think they learned a few things about navigation and snow travel - most of them were in light hikers.
While everyone else were out exploring I was hanging out with F in camp. She spend some time transferring water and ice from the lake/puddles to rocks and trees. We hiked around the campsite, and we made therm-a-rest slides in the tent. Just as we were about to start dinner Christian returned. We had a great dinner of pasta and homemade pesto.
On Sunday we slept until around 8am and then I got up to get ready for my ski trip to Locomotive. I left a little after 9am on my first solo summit attempt. I skied right from the camp to the south ridge. I left my skis a bit below the summit as there were several areas of exposed rocks. I was on the summit just before 11am, so I decided that I had time to get on top of Tender as well. The hike to Tender was mostly a snow walk, but did include some rock. The ski down from the ridge to the lake was fast on the perfect corn. I was back at the lake about 12.45pm. I really enjoyed summiting by myself. I was great to be able to just go at my own speed without having to wait for others or having others waiting for me.
Back at camp Vincent was just getting out of the partly snow covered lake, so I decided that I needed a swim too. It was a very quick 'swim', but I did touch the snow. F was sleeping, so Christian packed down the tent, while I relaxed and ate snacks in the dry heather patch. We had a hard time leaving this gorgeous area, so we did not get out of camp until 2.30pm. The hike down was uneventful, but I did notice that the trail is actually quite challenging. It is very steep at places, there are lots of roots, large rocky steps and mud on the trail. It is not the easiest trail to do with a heavy pack. F hiked some of the way down, and we noticed how good of a hiker she has become. Her balance is really good, she anticipates how slippery the different surfaces are, she recovers from tripping over small obstacles, and she is starting to use her poles correctly.
We were back by the car around 5pm and stopped for dinner in Pemberton. It ended up being pretty late by the time we got home, but luckily that also meant that F was a sleep when we arrived. Semaphore turned out to be just as awesome as I had hoped for. The access is easy despite the somewhat difficult trail, the campsite is absolutely gorgeous and locomotive is a great and easy objective.