On July 2nd, just a little stiff & sore from our 16 km hike at Elk Island the previous day, we headed out to visit Brian’s Mom & Dad who were camping at Ross Lake, part of Whitney Lakes Provincial Park. This was my first visit to the park so, of course, I had to conduct a little bit of research. Whitney Lakes includes Ross, Borden, Laurier, & Whitney lakes & some beautiful back country trails wind around each of them. Once I found there was a glacial esker to go explore, we planned an ~11 km route, parked the truck at the start, & headed out into a beautiful afternoon.
The esker snakes out into the water & is an elevated ridge above the surrounding landscape. We debated whether or not to walk its full length, & I’m so glad that we did. The sun was shining, the wildflowers were blooming, & we were walking on a landform created nearly 100 000 years ago.
Warning: I’m going to slip into my high school English teacher persona for a moment, bear with me.
In my second year of university, I took a class on romanticism where we endlessly studied Blake, Keats, Wordsworth & the gang. There, I was introduced to an idea the romantics were obsessively interested in: the sublime. When something is sublime, it impresses you because of its sense of power & immensity &, as a result, it inspires a feeling of awe. The romantics rejected the rational, scientific lens Enlightenment thinkers used to view nature, & concentrated on experiencing awe in nature by intuition rather than deduction instead. While much of what I studied in that class on romanticism has been forgotten, this concept has always stuck with me because it named & explained, much more eloquently than I could ever hope to, my long-standing belief that a connection to God can be found in nature.
Thank you for your patience. We now return to the regularly scheduled post.
Walking on an esker that is 100 000 years old, watching a meteor shower, paddling across a lake where the water is as smooth as glass, and being in the mountains are all experiences that are, for me, sublime. They inspire a sense of awe that can be challenging to put into words. They make me marvel at the beauty that exists all around us, beauty that we should slow down to appreciate more often.
After exploring the esker, we continued with our hike, passing through wetlands & forests. There were signs posted at the campsite warning about active bears in the area, so when we found this fresh track in the mud, we high-tailed it out of there. After that, I was nervous about encountering one of the animals, & we hadn’t brought the bear bell, so I decided it was a good time to teach Brian every campfire sing-along song I could remember from attending camp as an eight-year-old. I think I scared any nearby bears far away with my voice, so it was an effective tactic.
We found a cute backcountry campsite, complete with its own dock. It’d be neat to access it by canoe, & I almost suggested to Brian that we try it out later this summer, but I quickly changed my mind upon realizing how many mosquitos were near the water!
We picked up the pace & continued along, moving out of the backcountry and along the shore of one of the larger lakes where people were waterskiing & tubing. We passed several children’s camps that were quiet & even a little spooky, & headed for the home stretch. This final push was thwarted when we realized that trail had been flooded by the unusually high water levels, so we found ourselves buskwacking to the highway where we called Brian’s Dad to come pick us up & drive us back to the truck.
We finished my first visit to Whitney Lakes off perfectly with BBQ steaks & well-earned Nestle drumsticks. It was one of those days where I returned home with sore feet, mosquito bitten legs, & a burnt nose, utterly exhausted & completely happy.