During the Canada Day long weekend, Chris and I decided to go to Strathcona Provincial Park to do some hiking and camping. We decided to do two trips in one as we thought we could conquer two places in one long weekend (read about the other trip to Mt. Albert Edward here). We had seen pictures of Cream Lake a few years back and it had always been our dream to see it. However, we had a bit of a problem. We read the trail reports and it said there was snow about 1 hour in from the trailhead at Bedwell Lake. Who would have thought there would still be snow in July! We brought our snow shoes along and it saved our lives throughout the trip. We left Victoria around 6pm and arrived at Buttle Lake campground around 10pm, about a 4 hour drive including stopping for gas. When we arrived at Buttle Lake campground, there was a sign that said it was full! We checked the reservations board and sure enough all the sites were reserved. However, there was one spot that was left blank (spot #86). When we looked at the campground map, I couldn’t see a #86. Anyways, we decided to try our luck at another campspot next to Buttle, even though it said it was “reservations only” for groups. I think God was watching over us that night because as we pulled into the other campsite, a ranger driving in her truck was coming from the other direction and had spotted us coming in. She said we weren’t allowed to camp here and to go a half hour away to Ralph River to camp. It was about 10pm and was getting dark. We asked if there were anymore spots at Buttle and she said yes! It was spot #86! We told the lady there wasn’t a #86 on the legend map but she confirmed there was and it was the only spot left. At this point in the night, I didn’t care what kind of spot it was. I jokingly said to Chris that it’s probably way at the end next to a stinky outhouse. We followed the ranger lady to the camp spot and sure enough, there was a #86 and it was right next to a stinky outhouse!
The next day woke up early and drove to the Bedwell Lake trailhead. To get there, you basically follow Hwy 28 all the way down to Buttle Lake until you cross Thelwood Bridge. As soon as you cross Thelwood Bridge, you turn left and there is a 6.5 Km gravel road which takes you to the trail head. It took us about less than 20 min. to drive the gravel road as it is a steady uphill. Our goal was to make it to Bedwell Lake to camp. However, due to the snowy conditions, we only made it to Baby Bedwell Lake which was about a 5km hike from the parking lot. That took us about 3 hours. The reason it took so long was that the snow made it difficult to hike and to find the correct route. Hiking in snowshoes proved to be a challenge when hiking for long durations (especially uphill).
After a well deserved lunch, we decided to make camp at Baby Bedwell Lake and walk a bit further without our packs to see how far we could get. We had a bit of a scuffle trying to find the the route out of camp! We tried about 3 different ways but managed to find the correct route…about an hour later! We only got as far as the lookout point to Baby Bedwell Lake and even stopping here was a sign of victory. We made our way back to camp and had our “dinner of champions” – MEC beef stroganoff and Teriyaki noodles Sidekicks. It was a well deserved dinner after a long day of hiking. That night was my first night camping in the snow.