Before we set off on our six-month U.S. Road Trip, we decided to spend a little time exploring our own backyard. If you can deal with the unpredictable weather, you'll be able to enjoy these summer destinations with only a few visitors, and with a whole lot less RV's on the road. If you're lucky, you'll catch clear blue bird days, and even witness the snow line creeping down the mountains toward the valleys.
Autumn Camping in E.C. Manning Park
After a few days of rain, the sun finally came out - which can only mean one thing: backcountry camping! This is the third time I've done a massive hiking trip in this park, and after this trek in down the Heather Trail we have now covered over 110KM in this park alone. While we did wake up to heavy frost, the views of the surrounding Cascade Mountains in Washington made it all better.
Exploring the Okanagan Region
If you only have a day to drive in this lush region of British Columbia, you need to add a stop at a winery. This sums up the entire area in one delicious pitstop, or in our case - lunch. Fruit stands, vineyard walking, lake admiring and desert-scaped mountain towns are just a few things that summarize your time here.
Discovering Historic Sandon
If you're a history buff, you need to drive the scenic highway route from New Denver to Sandon, then onto Kaslo. It’s only an hour or so drive according to our trusted Google Maps, but we were about to do it a record-breaking 7 hours!
The Galena Trail is a thru-hike that also covers this historic route, but instead of wasting however many days on it in the rain, we decided to do a portion of it to visit an old Alamo Siding Mine. It was an easy 7km loop that followed along the river in a colourful valley. As we arrived at the old mine, which according to the signage, was a booming town in the late 1800’s, the sun makes an appearance – finally. This is when I’m quick to break out my sunglasses and rub in Jonny’s face that I did need them after all; a snood comment he had made earlier suggested that I was ‘too optimistic’ for bringing them- guess who was getting blinded in the end. Hint: it wasn’t me!
Sadly, as I was basking in my glory of being right, we discovered a forest fire had burnt the mine down recently, making only the large steel machinery visible. It was too bad, as it would have been interesting to take a walk around and try to imagine how this now overgrown forest was once so busy it had a need for a post office!
After your hike, you need to head into Sandon and discover this adorable town of only a handful of residents. If it's only for a quick coffee and a wander, you'll love discovering the new home for many Canadian trolly buses.
Backcountry Camping at Panther Lake
Luckily for me, it stopped raining and the blue sky took over as we packed our bags for a one-night stay at Panther Lake. The trailhead was easy to find and it wasn’t joking around with its elevation gain. At only 4km long and nearly 360m to gain. It was shocking that we tackled most of it in the first kilometer.
Following a river most of the way, the somewhat covered-in trail was beautiful with it's pops of orange, reds and yellows. It took us just over an hour and to my surprise it was worth every step.
A clear, crystal lake surround by dry, rocky peaks that screamed, “scramble me!” which I had every intention to do tomorrow morning.
The foliage made our tent site that much prettier and there wasn’t a single person around.
We started the hike at 5pm so by the time we set up camp; it was time to start cooking. The sun had long gone down, and the fire was doing its job keeping us warm. It was only then that our curse caught up with us and the raindrops started. Lightly at first, but by the time we were in the tent at 7:45pm it was getting harder.
Autumn Road Tripping in British Columbia
To sum up our ten days spent exploring our own backyard; it was damp.
However, as long as your hands are warm enough to set up a shelter, the views and hidden gems along the way will make it up too you.