Gimli Ridge Hike, Valhalla Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

     We rolled out of bed not knowing what we would find the next morning as we arrived to camp night before after dark. Needless to say I felt like a kid coming down the stairs on Christmas morning when I first laid eyes on Upper Little Slocan Lake, it was absolutely stunning. The lake was glass reflecting the mountains around it perfectly, made me wish I had brought my kayak with me, next time. We ate breakfast before taking some time to explore the environs. We picked up a trail passing an old abandoned and disheveled homestead along the west side of the lake.

    The path was well travelled and even featured small plaques naming the local flora of the area. We made our way along the lake to a couple of nice open views across the water before calling it quits and heading back to camp where we quickly packed up camp and hit the road. Fortunately for us we were only a short drive from the days hike and in short order found the trailhead for Gimli Ridge.

    From the trailhead parking lot we were treated to our first view of 9,200 foot Gimli Peak. Im impressed by how good the views are from the trailhead up here, you usually have to work for this stuff where i’m from.  After cleaning off any invasive species from the bottom of our boots with the provided brush and instructions at the trailhead we picked up the level trail through a virgin forest, it was nice to be traveling along somewhat level ground out here for once. Eventually the trail took a left and headed west crossing a creek before switchbacking a couple of times to gain the ridge and taking the most direct route, straight uphill.

     The sun was out at times but so was the was threat of an early winter. Out of sorts at the trailhead I forgot to pack my fleece and to be honest it was down right chilly. Eventually the trail broke the tree line leaving us completely exposed.  The day time temps did little to warm me up as small squalls of snow were now beginning to blowing about. I was cold to say the least, instead, I hiked as fast as I could to keep my core temp up which helped a little. The views above tree line were jaw dropping, to the west lay an impressive pristine valley anchored by an unknown peak but also including Drinnon Peak, Mount Prestley, and Nisleheim Peak. To the east stood an impressive summit referred to as the Wolf’s Ears which gave way to a stunning ridge that carried your eyes all the way down the valley in the direction of Little Upper Slocan Lake.  

    As we approaching a small saddle we passed a couple small camps and an impressive privy before reaching an abused knoll at an exposed camp behind a rock wall built to knock down the winds from the west. We took a small break here and met a young couple coming down off the mountain who were pretty damn happy to see us, we chatted for a minute, the young man was quite energetic and the young lady with him just excited to be in such an amazing place. They had accents I was unfamiliar with and soon realized they were the drifters that owned an old tattered vanagon at the trailhead with a sign on the back window that said “10,000 kms on thanks”. I couldn’t help but feel a bit jealous as we parted ways, they were living a life I only wish I had the courage to live.

    We left the exposed camp behind and picked up a lesser traveled trail over talus toward the base of the granite wall of Gimli Peak, this rock was impressive, reminding me of something straight out of the Yosemite valley. As we began to traverse north below the sheer summit we encountered a couple of goats heading our way. We decided to yield and scrambled above the trail to let them pass. First, mamma crossed our path keeping a close eye on Wally and myself while her kid followed behind. I love these majestic creatures of the highlands, they seem so wise and stoic braving the harshest of conditions in the most and inhospitable places. After bidding farewell to our furry friends we pressed on, losing a little elevation over narrow tread. The trail was somewhat exposed here with drop offs to the west and a serious potential for rock fall above us. The freeze and thaw that comes with fall in the mountains is especially dangerous, needless to say we were motivated to pick up the pace. Eventually, the trail ended at a giant talus field with rocks the size of volkswagens. We methodically picked the path of least resistance as we scrambled up eventually topping out at an exposed ledge dropping a thousand feet into the Mulvey Basin.

    Words can’t even come close to describing the view before us, jagged and formidable summits including Nisleheim Peak, Midgard Peak, Asgard Peak, Gladsheim Peak, East Molar, The Humps and Wedge stand fortress to the stunning Mulvey Lakes basin. The lake basin begged for further exploration but the skills required to get there were beyond my skill set and needless to say I was satisfied with that, the view from the ridge is one I will never forget. We lingered for a long time, how could you not. Eventually we had to leave our lofty views behind and depart the uncomfortable perch. There was no flat spot to relax and enjoy the views as the granite here pushed up creating something of a knife edge that when stood upon above such an exposed precipice gave me vertigo, an uneasy feeling at these heights. We bid farewell and made our descent over talus until eventually finding dirt, which was a welcome site.

    We made our way back to the exposed windy camp when the weather took a sudden turn for the worse, the skies opened up bringing with it high winds and snow, we made way for the rock shelter to find relief when we met a guy and gal who had the same idea we did. We took a break to drink some water and have a snack. I was getting cold in my short sleeve shirt and shorts but was very thankful to atleast have something to cover my ears and a pair of gloves. Wally looked pretty damn comfortable in his fleece. I was so cold, the snow wasn’t even melting when it hit my bare arms, it just piled up. Our friends who hunkered down with us were quite comfortable, and to our surprise had hauled in a loaf of bread with a jar of peanut butter and jelly for a snack, who does that? Crazy canucks. We parted ways and made the steep descent back to the truck where we loaded up and made way for Nakusp along the shores of Arrow Lake.  The hike was spectacular and well the worth the 6 miles round trip and 2,500 feet of elevation gain. Just outside of town is Nakusp Hot Springs, a private pool with cheap camping that we would call home for the night.

    We checked in, paid for camp, and pitched our tent in a grassy flat just below the spring before making our way back to the hot spring for welcome soak. We had worked pretty damn hard over the last couple days and our aching legs needed a nice soak in a hot pool. The hot springs were pretty damn nice, two pools, one hot (108 degrees) and the other cooler (100 degrees) with an ice cold shower to use as a cold plunge. I smuggled in a couple of beers to help me relax and enjoy the soak. We hung out for a couple of hours before taking showers and retreating back to camp for some shut eye. I had purchased a new buddy propane heater for this trip and it came in very handy. The nights were damn cold but the little heater had the tent as hot as a sweat lodge in a matter of minutes, it was nice, even dried our swimsuits which we hung from the ceiling of the tent.

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