Brooke Gets Lost at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

On our first day in Whistler, as Cal eagerly zips off to do some snowboarding, the girls and I pack ourselves into the car and drive out past Pemberton to enjoy a leisurely snowshoe to Joffre Lakes. We arrive at the trailhead with little trouble and, in no time, we are off gallivanting around the first of the lakes—Lower Joffre Lake. (To anyone who knows me, you are probably wondering when we will get lost. Let me assure you: very soon.)

So here we are, enjoying a nice photo op at the lower lake and delighting in the heavy snowfall, but eventually we must walk on. I recall reading some directions online that advised snowshoers not to trod straight across the lake, as it might be hard to pick the trail up on the other side if you don’t follow it completely around. Bearing this in mind, I suggest that we trod straight across the lake. We make it about 10 steps out before Katy reasonably says that this is not wise, and we scamper back to walk left around the lake. The trail proves challenging to follow, so we end up puttering back onto the lake for another 20 steps before Katy puts her foot down and insists we chart a course around the lake. So, we shuffle back to the track and continue around the lake.

At several points, the trail seems to, well, trail off into the trees and then eventually it seems to just double back on itself. Where a hiker with any semblance of a clue might interpret this to mean that we had gone the wrong way and should turn back, I blazed on and decided that this simply must be the correct direction, despite a now complete lack of tracks in the snow ahead of us. After some time, we end up winding through the trees, and it’s at this point that we really acknowledge that we’ve gone the wrong way. Not wanting to turn back now, though, we figure it will be fine to carry on through the forest and pop out on the other side of the lake. That would be too simple, so, of course, both Katy and Rhiannon fall through the snow to shoulder-height and into a running creek, respectively.

We accept that it’s time to turn around and find another route, and around this same time Katy remembers that she has a map of the trail on her phone. A map clearly showing that we should go right around the lake, not left. Tails between our legs, we trudge back to our starting point and eat lunch before carrying on to find this so-called “correct” route. Within minutes, we find it, and are off to Middle Joffre Lake, which is considerably farther and, apparently, all uphill. As we climb in elevation, the weather dramatically changes from comfortable and sunny to freezing and snowing, which doesn’t bother us too much as long as we are moving and generating quite a bit of heat. Katy (aka The Human Furnace) is in a t-shirt by the time we make it to the lake.

We make the sad decision to not walk the further 10 minutes to the upper lake, since blizzard-like conditions have moved in and threaten to completely obscure the view, especially at higher altitudes. Satisfied with reaching our destination nonetheless, we turn around and walk the hour back to the car. Not a bad start to our time in BC!