Last summer my girlfriend, Danielle, and I were starting to amass a collection of camping gear with the coming of our Pan-American departure. At the same time, Danielle's parents were doing the same, with the intention of getting into backpacking. In late July, Danielle and I, along with her father, Dirk, found ourselves with some availability and decided we should go on a short trek somewhere to break in our gear.
Thus, after quickly looking through a guidebook I found a trail within Strathcona Provincial Park that caught my eye, which I believe was the Price Creek/Cream Lake trail. After running the trail past Danielle and Dirk, we set out in Danielle's Honda Civic and hit the road, with the intention of sleeping in the car at the trailhead Friday night, and beginning the trail Saturday morning. After a few hours of driving, we finally reached Buttle Lake, and began to head towards the trailhead. The road took us off the pavement and on to a gravel road. As we began driving along the gravel road, the conditions drastically deteriorated until it was no longer feasible with the car.
Therefore, we decided to head back to the pavement, and decide on what we should hike the next day, and also try to find somewhere to stay. After doing some reading in a trail guide, we decided on the Flower Ridge trail. Now that darkness had fallen we attempted to find somewhere suitable to sleep that night. On the drive in, we had seen a couple signs saying the two main campgrounds were full, but decided to try our luck at Ralph River Campground just in case. After driving through the campground and finding it full, we were approached by a park ranger who, after we explained our situation, told us to camp at one of the day-use-only areas for the night and just bounce before 9:00. Taking his advice, we set up in the dark, enjoyed some dinner, and then admired the amazing Milky Way before getting some sleep.
Saturday morning we had a hearty breakfast, packed up, and hit the trail. The trail was steep, long, and hot. I can't remember how long we climbed but it must have been 2 to 3 hours. As we neared the top and with our water bottles running low, we encountered a man coming down and asked him if there was any water up at the top of the ridge. He replied with a scoff that no, there was no water at the top, and he made his way down the trail. A little worried, we continued up until reaching the ridge.
Once at the top of the ridge and out of the trees, we were met with incredible views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains and the serpent-like Buttle Lake far below. Although awestruck, we were still a tad dismayed at the fact the only water we could see were some very small, and very murky puddles, having near emptied our water supplies. Nevertheless, we had only just reached the ridge, and continued on.
After hiking along the ridge for some time, taking in the incredible views, we put our backpacks down and had a snack break. We each wandered a little bit off the trail looking around when I was called to come back and look at something. I jogged back to Danielle and Dirk and they told me to look not 25 metres from where we'd put our bags down over a small hill behind some trees. There, below us, was an amazing tarn, with a man swimming in the blue waters. Despite the other guy on the trail's claims, there was water indeed.
We walked down to the tarn and spoke with the swimming man for a few minutes while filtering some water to replenish our supplies. The water was surprisingly warm and we were ecstatic. We decided to set up our basecamp for the next two nights nearby the beautiful alpine lake.
We spent the rest of the day wandering close to basecamp, and swimming in the tarn. As the sun set, I grabbed my camera and tripod, and jogged back along the ridge in order to capture the colorful sky above Buttle Lake. After returning to the others, we relaxed once more and went to sleep.
The next day, we left most of our gear and headed farther along the ridge, making it to some snow and continuing for some time until reaching a point where the trail began to get harder to follow under the snow, and would eventually become more technical. Not wanting to go much father than this, we made lunch while being bombarded by mosquitoes. Although the views were incredibly worth it, the amount of mosquitoes present on the ridge did bring down the experience a little bit -- bug spray was non-negotiable.
After lunch, we headed back towards our basecamp while exploring off the trail a little bit, finding another set of more private tarns. This spot was even more beautiful than where we had set up our tents, and we noted that next time we do the trail we would have to camp here. We took a swim in one of the tarns and then headed back to our tent to relax.
After spending another night on the Ridge, we headed back down to the car on Monday, and drove home after grabbing a dirty dinner in Campbell River at Lee's Chicken. All-in-all, Flower Ridge remains one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, and I look back on this trek with great fondness.