"Wrong ways, wrongs ways" W is constantly yelling in the backpack as we quickly hike towards the car, despite having just left it two hours earlier. She is painfully reminding me that we did not do our homework well enough and therefor hiked several kilometres down the wrong trail, not realizing our mistake until we were crossing a river that made us suspicious. We are on the clock as the sun will set in about three hours. Luckily the kids are cool and hike the trail back to car at record speed. We all get back in and drive the last half kilometer to the actual trailhead. It is past 6pm when we get started the second time around and we speed along the trail. W is still periodically yelling "Wrong ways!". I tell her no: this is the right way. Little did I know that she was just for-seeing tomorrow's navigational errors.
An hour or so after leaving the car for the second time, we arrive at the Chain Lakes site. It is surprisingly nice with a good view over the lake as the sun was setting behind the mountains. We somehow managed to cook dinner and eat dinner, make a bear hang, and set up the tent before it was completely dark. I think I was asleep before any of the kids.
The next morning the little kids ate a copious amount of blueberries, while we took down camp and F did some whittling. We were back on the trail at a pretty reasonable time for the Veenstra family. It started gaining elevation right away, which 4 year old N found a bit tough, so she got a few boosts from daddy. After gaining the plateau the going got easier (expect for the many stops for blueberry picking) and the hiking was quite enjoyable as we passed many small lakes. F and I headed off to lower fowl lake so W could get some extra time out of the carrier. We took a break at the lake, where the ground was covered in tiny blueberry plants. It was impossible to sit down without getting blueberry spots on your bum. It was great.
Shortly after our break we lost the trail leaving the plateaux and heading up. Christian spent a while looking for it. He bushwacked all the way down to the lake and a few hundred meters up from the lake, but didn't see the trail. According to our gps location we were meters from the trail. Christian somehow convinced me that the best idea would be to just bushwack up to the upper lake plateau, so we did just that. F was doing okay, but Christian had to carry N, and I was also having a bit of a hard time. After about an hour we got to a small out cropping overlooking the river valley leading down from Upper Fowl. According to our downloaded gps route the trail was where we were, not in the valley, but looking down in the valley I figured it would be silly to make a trail anywhere else. We sent Christian down to to investigate and he was quickly back reporting that he had found the trail there. The rest of the hike up to the Upper Lake was pretty uneventful, but it was still late afternoon by the time we arrived. We felt a bit silly, having trusted our downloaded gps route of the trail rather than our gut and taking the kids bushwhacking (especially since Christian has actually done the Owl-Tenquille traverse twice, albeit once on skis a long time ago and once following the same trail in the reverse direction. I guess he's getting old.). Our friends Tim and Mirella and their daughter T were already there; they had hiked in via the Owl-Tenquille traverse - impressive!
Right away the big girls were off playing in the boulder fields. We've recently been able to relax somewhat and meet with friends outdoors, now that the older kids are so good at wearing their masks. We had not seen them since last summer, but they played like they saw each other just last week. They even took good care of N, so we could take our time getting camp set up and dinner cooked. A few more families joined us in the early evening. In the evening we all enjoyed dinner while catching up with old friends and getting aquatinted with new ones. Our dinner spot was a beautiful rocky one next to part of the lake. The kids were sitting on the large rocks next to the lake while eating and all of a sudden N just tumbled backwards into the cold lake. Luckily Lena was close by and had her out of the water before I could even blink. She was very surprised, but before she was even in a new set of clothes her crying transitioned to a constant tail of a her epic fall.
It was great to just hang out and talk over dinner and dishes, but soon N started complaining of stomach aches, so I took the little kids back to the tent to get them ready for bed before dark. In the morning we spent a couple of hours just hanging out by the lake, the kids playing and the adults chatting. The bravest even took a dip in the lake. After lunch we started heading down together. The trail to the lower lake was easy to follow on the way down and it turned out that Christian had been standing a few meters from the trail looking for it on our way up - it just disappeared for a few meters where it hugged the lakeshore right where he'd bushwhacked to it. We had a nice long break at the lower lake with time for another swim, this time not only for the brave.
Heading down the steeper part of the trail was hard with all the weight we had. Occasionally W asked to walk herself, but that was even worse than carrying her. Trying to hold her hand on the narrow trail, avoiding her tumbling down the steep hill was both stressful and back breaking. The big kids did great though, although N was also carried occasionally to keep up with everyone else. We were back at the car at a reasonable time. Awesome weekend despite the wrong ways!
Say Nuth Khaw Yum
Upper Fowl Lake
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