Saturday, November 2, 2013

Rendezvous on Mt. Revelstoke

Eva Lake, Mt. Revelstoke National Park
Eva Lake, Mt. Revelstoke National Park
Like almost no place else I know, rambling in Mt. Revelstoke National Park lifts me up, slaps a happy grin on my face, and makes me glad to be able to put one foot in front of the other. Okay, so it's not full of 3000+ metre limestone monsters like the Rocky Mountains, or huge ice sheets like the Jasper Parkway. Indeed, if I drive to the summit and hike back to Miller and Eva Lakes I only put on about 400 m of elevation change over 12 km total. But I get a sense of accomplishment every time I lace up the boots and head for the summit. Maybe it's because Mt. Revelstoke is "my" Park in the way no other place can can be. For me a hike here is more than a day in the hills, it is a rendezvous with memory.
Louie casting from the Eva Lake shore - 1972
Louie at Eva Lake, 1972
Mary at 15  -- Eva Lake, Mt. Revelstoke
Mary at 15 -- Eva Lake, Mt. Revelstoke
Revelstoke is my home town and the Park was my playground. It is a place of "firsts" for me: first place I put on skis - the old Mt. Revelstoke ski hill below the Nels Nelson ski jump; first place I climbed - up in "the Valley" with Bud Stovell and the Revelstoke Secondary School Climbing Club; first place I got well and truly lost - exploring the south eastern slopes with Don Daem. My first real alpine mountain hike was here too: My Dad (Louie), Don, and I hiked in to Miller and Eva Lakes in 1972. I saw my first grizzly in this Park, and had my one and only view of a wolverine in the wild at Lower Jade Lake while on an overnight trip with Mike in 2006. I also charge Mt. Revelstoke with developing my never-ending fascination for photographing BC's native wildflowers.

Mt. Revelstoke Nat. Park: Meadows in the Sky
Meadows in the Sky - summit of Mt. Revelstoke
Established on April 28, 1914, Mt. Revelstoke is Canada's eighth National Park. The good folks of Revelstoke began working on the road to summit two years earlier, but it wasn't completed until 1927. However, a trail to the summit of Mt. Revelstoke was established in 1908. I've been on that hike several times, and I have to admit, one has to be rather "focused" to get it done -- 10 km, unrelenting uphill, almost all in the trees -- but the "Meadows in the Sky" at the top of the trail are glorious.

Swimming at Miller Lake
Miller Lake swimming
I always count a summer with a trip to Mt. Revelstoke National Park as a success. This summer Mike and I had the pleasure of introducing this lovely little gem of a park to Krista, Cedric, and Dianne, friends from the Alpine Club of Canada - Vancouver Island (VI) Section. In late August the VI-Section, of which Mike and I are active members, based a week-long summer camp up in Glacier National Park. The five of us decided to drive down to Mt. Revelstoke and do the Miller and Eva Lakes hike. I can easily say that no one regretted the choice.

 Even though the outstanding displays of wildflowers were past their peak, we still had a stunning day. Miller Lake was the first destination. Needless to say, going for a dip in the aquamarine water was the first objective. Some skinny dipping was included as we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Lunch and sunning on rocks followed in short order.

Jade Lake Pass
Jade Lake Pass above Miller Lake
 Three of us decided to visit Eva Lake and meet up with the other two on the main trail back. Where Miller Lake lies in a talus-sloped bowl, Eva sits up high on a small plateau and commands a fine vista of the area. Both of these lakes have always been popular destinations for hikers and fishers, but Dad always claimed that the fishing was better at Eva.

Dad used to come up several times every summer to fish for cut-throat trout. In fact, it was on the trail to Eva Lake that he had his "Road to Damascus" experience. Dad had a bad smoking habit - two or three packs a day. It never seemed to slow him down, until one day in 1973, on the way to Eva Lake, Dad must have had an asthma attack, or something like it because he couldn't catch his breath. He had to turn around and slowly make his way back to the trail-head. He had his last smoke that day. He always said to me later "Mary, it was up on Mt. Revelstoke that I learned to Hate The Cigarette!"

All in all, a trip into Mt. Revelstoke National Park is sure to provide experiences, views, and adventures that will morph into memories. I know I'm looking forward to getting back there next year -- if I don't do anything else, at least I can rendezvous with another skinny dip in Miller Lake!

 Route to Eva and Miller Lakes: