Return to Keyhole Hot Springs

After Tough Mudder 2012 I went to Keyhole Hot Springs to relax, and liked it. So I took one of my hiking buddies, Stephen, and his friend, Jen, back there for another trip in late September.

The road was just as dusty, no snow to be seen. Seemed to still be graded. Dusty as ever. The fjord that you cross is a lot lower.

The last short hill after the fjord.

The last short hill after the fjord.

First thing I noticed was that most of the flagging tape I had put up had been taken down. The route was still passable of course, and as steep as ever. Remember there is no access to drinking water at the campground or the hot springs, so carry extra with you (it’s a short hike in anyway).

You’ll be treated to some spectacular views on the way down.

Remember though, it’s steep. Be ready for careful footwork and slidy, dusty dirt on the way down.

This is what I mean, and there is 30 minutes of this, both directions.

This is what I mean, and there is 30 minutes of this, both directions.

Once you get there though, the camp ground is pretty good (but it doesn’t look it). Flat, lots of trees to keep the wind down and out of the sun so you’re tent doesn’t get too hot.

Then head north west (right if facing the river) to the pathway that takes you to the hot springs.

Once you see them, it’s more careful footing and hope you brought a towel along to get changed under. There is nothing private down there to say the least.

At this later point in the year, the lower pool was open. Warm, but not as hot as the upper one, and larger too. It’s great!

Ahhh! The hotsprings at last (note the lower pool is now usable, see my other post for what it was like earlier in the year)

Ahhh! The hot springs at last (note the lower pool is now usable, see my other post for what it was like earlier in the year)

Remember, the original post has lots of links etc on how to get to Keyhole Hot Springs and the area.

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Joffre Lakes

As usual, I’m off into the outdoors for the weekend! This time we were off to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. Plan was 2 nights up there, hike up on Friday evening (late in the day/in the dark for Harini, Hannah and myself), day hike on Saturday to somewhere and then hike down Sunday. Jesse (Hannah’s dog) would be coming with us for the first time, and yes, I was excited about canine company on the hike. Christina and Mark had to leave North Van after us, so they would hike up separately.

The way up included quite a lot of scrambling over boulder fields and the like. The route is supposed to be 5.5km, but it’s steep. If you’ve done the Chief or the Grind, you can do this, but you will be slower since you’ll have all the camping gear to haul up. On the way up we even saw a note from the trail crew, asking us to haul up some planks to build a bridge… I think that’s optional. Thanks of course to them for directing us to the camp site on the other side of the lake.

When we got there, we found the campsite was in a boulder/moraine field, so it’s got quite a lot of stone dust around… but they have tent sized patches ready set up, along with an outhouse, bear cache and you are right by the water! Just go find yourself a patch (the first night we had a more muddy one, but the second night we moved to a drier peninsula) and pitch up. You’re a long way from the outhouse at the camp site, so make sure you have your light available after sunset… and make sure you have brought Toilet Paper with you (it will not be waiting for you up there, everything has to be heli’ed in).

Dinner of Mountain House Buffalo Chicken Wraps as always, some wine from our funky lightweight Platypus wine preservers, some Baileys and Hot Chocolate and as we were about to hit bed, Christina and Mark finally show up! It turns out they had been somewhat more significantly delayed than first thought. So we all bed down,  Hannah had an unfortunate problem with small rodents running under her tent, but Jesse saw them off (we later found out that the drier camp sites don’t have this issue).

The next day we had a slow start (intentionally, we all wanted to relax). Did a massive photo session by the lake in the morning light! I had hauled up some pancakes and a frying pan, they were very well received by the group! Just make sure you have a way to melt your honey to make it more runny.

So we head off up a nearby valley for Tszil Mountain/Glacier and Mount Taylor. This involved more scrambling over boulders and this time the route isn’t as well marked, so bring along the Duffey Lake Map (which shows Joffre well). There is a toilet on the way just on the other side of the forest (kind of random as it’s a long way from the camp site etc, and you almost pass the one nearer to the site to get to this one). Bring some decent boots with you, glad I had mine to protect your ankles. Also, my REI Flash 18 Backpack is GREAT for taking up as a quick daypack!

Jesse found it OK on the way up, although he was especially pleased to see a lake about 3/4 of the way up. We took the chance to fill up on good clear water (remember your purification drops/tabs). The final quarter was snow and rocks to climb over. At the viewpoint we reached, we looped round the back of Mount Taylor and looked out over another valley. Great stop for a small rest while Christina & Mark head for the summit. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it down in time so I built them an arrow made of rocks and we headed off.

Jesse had a harder time on the way down, occasionally he would refuse to jump off a rock etc. We gave him a hand… and for my trouble, he scratched my nipple through my t-shirt! Yes it hurt. The snow was a bit more tricky going down as well.

As we were getting down, I filled up on water again at a stream we crossed (stream water tastes miles better than lake water). We got back and quickly set about dinner as we were all starving. More wine (including some French Rabbit in a TetraPak container) and story sharing (no this was not as childish as it seems, not this kind of stories). Jesse, exhausted from the day, came down to bark at Hannah, ordering her to go to bed immediately.

We did notice it was a bit windy that evening… the next morning I really noticed that the fly had blown off the tent! Still didn’t get up for a few minutes! We decided to load up on trail mi and hike down. It does take 2.5hrs to get down as the rocky sections mean careful footwork required, and you are covering quite a lot of horizontal distance.

Once we were back at the car, we wasted no time heading for Mile One Eating House for a frigging GREAT lunch!

Here are the photos (sorry these aren’t in separate galleries throughout the article, I didn’t have time to do so).

A great trip, well worth doing. I’ll update this post with some Photosynths from the area later.

Here are those Photosynths:

Here are a few places you can read about Joffre Lakes:

St. Lucia

So folks I’ve been on a family break to the Caribbean. As I’ve always done with family breaks, a lot of the details here will be left out I’m afraid. However, I think I’ve got enough for a post about it.

We stayed at the all-inclusive Smuggler’s Cove Resort. This place was pretty good but flet a little dated and very family oriented. It was also like stepping back to the UK for me. I heard so many British accents everywhere I went. The beach was a mixture of volcanic sand and the water was blue and clear. The all in food was good, but they have restaurants that you could book… these felt severely over used though, always booked. We also found that you had to get up early and queue for everything! Internet was poor to say the least.

However, it was great to see the family so all of the above hardly mattered. We had a great time! The resort grew on us! Bugs were no where near as bad as we expected and the breeze was well received at night. Something about the cloudy days hardly ruined them… we were outside in the heat and no risk of sunburn…

I got three great days of Diving in with Eastern Caribbean Diving, who were great to me the whole time I was with them. Really made me feel involved and very friendly, exactly what I wanted from a dive shop! Met great people on the boat and saw some good things, even if I did take a Fire Coral hit! Watch out for stuff underwater that looks like someone spraypainted a surface orange.

I also got some golf in and a Segway tour. Was a great time! Great to see the family. Here are the photos!