A mere 700 and something kms east of Vancouver, or 9 hours and 45 minutes driving according to Google, you find Kokanee Glacier Park. This is one of the oldest provincial parks in BC, covering just over 320 square km. We stopped here and decided to do a bit of a hike. To find out the best place to go, we first stopped into a nearby visitor centre to get an idea of conditions. Elevation in this park is quite high, so conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly and catch you unawares. We knew (or rather M knew) there was a hut located not so many hours hike in from the road, and we were interested in heading in there. However, the information at the visitor centre was scanty at best. It seems locals who head there know what the deal is, but no one passes that information on to the visitor centre on a regular basis, so our best and most up-to-date information told us that most of the walks were still closed due to snow cover and we certainly wouldn’t be able to make it into the hut. We decided to drive up the road to the parking area and see how far we could get, although we were a bit disappointed to not be able to get in to the hut.
This is the road where I think I mentioned earlier we saw grizzly bear marks on a tree, at a height about M’s head. Fun… We drove up the kinky, bumpy, windy old dirt “road” and made it to the car park area, and I have to say I was surprised to find some quite reasonably maintained toilets up there, as well as a bunch of other cars – but no one in sight. There was a notice board (again advertising the fact that we were in the backcountry and there was wild life about so take all precautions you should) and also a stash of walking poles left by people, a really nice touch. So we geared ourselves up with walking poles, our day pack and water, and headed up hill on a nice looking path.
The bush on the side of the path was very overgrown and given the bear sign we had seen earlier and the fact the little critters – squirrels and birds and so on – didn’t seem in the slightest bit scared of us, it made us (and certainly me) a bit nervous about the bigger animals – if the little ones didn’t care that we were hiking along, why would the big ones care? I took to clapping my hands and hollering out every now and then, and although it cracked M up, he was soon joining me. Later we sunk into some interesting renditions of various songs, including Hotel California – I’m sure our singing was the best bear deterrent we could use!
After maybe 1.5 or 2 hours walking, we did encounter some snow and ice, but it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as what we were led to believe back at the visitor centre, and it didn’t go on for long. We were quite able to walk over the top of it, and it wasn’t on difficult or dangerous terrain. We found a suitable turnaround point, and from there, could actually see it wouldn’t have been much further to the hut (another hour or so), and while there would have been some snow cover, we would have been totally adequately equipped in our hiking boots, so a bit disappointing on that account. Nonetheless, definitely not disappointing in regards to the scenery and beauty around us.
On a side note, as it is now more than 6 months since we walked here, M just did a ski touring trip in the Kokanee Park over the week of New Years, staying at the hut we wanted to go to. The snow was so deep and the area so impassable that they had to be choppered in. Quite an impressive change between seasons.