Trip Report: Elsay Lake

Elsay Lake is a hike in Seymour Provincial Park which can be done as a long day hike or as an overnight. We wanted to try and get in one more overnight before winter conditions set in on the mountains, so we set out to Elsay Lake on Thanksgiving Weekend.

Getting to Seymour Provincial Park

In the summertime, the only way to get to Seymour is to drive. You then need to make sure you park in the correct spot – the BC Parks website is a bit confusing because they talk about winter parking and then indicate that overnight parking is only allowed in Lot 1. We parked in Lot 1, but as we were walking from the parking lot to the trailhead we noticed that Lot 2 had signage saying to park overnight there. When we returned to our car the next day, we had a “warning” saying we parked in the wrong location.

So moral of the story – park in Lot 2 if you are parking overnight in the summer!

Hiking

The official start of the trail is at the BC Parks signage boards at the end of the parking lot. You follow the main Seymour trail for about an hour before the turnoff onto the Elsay Lake trail. This trail is well maintained with slight elevation gain. The junction is clearly marked and there is also a sign letting you know it’s the “Wrong Way to Parking Lot” – presumably a few day hikers have taken a wrong turn.

 

 

Once you are on the Elsay Lake trail, you start to descend pretty quickly. The trail crosses a boulder field before popping back into the forest. The trail is well-flagged and marked in both the boulder and forested regions.

Once you are in the forest again, you’ll hit a ponded area, you still have a little ways to go until the lake,  but the rest of the trail is relatively flat (compared to the rest at least) and easy going.

Overall it took us 5 hours from the trailhead to the lake including a break for lunch.

 

 

Elsay Lake

There is a shelter at the lake with a sleeping loft as well as a number of tent sites. If you stay in the shelter or use it for cooking, remember to leave it in nicer condition than when you arrived and to pack out all your garbage.

Also, keep in mind that fires are not allowed in the Seymour backcountry – so you won’t be able to have one at Elsay Lake. There were several fire rings around the lake with burnt wood that we tried to scatter as best we could to discourage them from being used in the future.

The lake is in the shadow of Mount Elsay, mornings/evenings might be a little cooler than you expect as it takes some time for the sun to pop above the mountain.

 

Final Thoughts

Elsay Lake is a lovely destination if you are looking for a quick overnight trip. I’d suggest heading out on a weekday or late in the season to avoid other groups at the lake (we ran into three groups that had stayed the night before at Elsay Lake on our way in). Also, keep in mind that the trail is more challenging than its length would indicate – the BC Parks website is accurate when they suggest this is a 9-10 hour round trip.

 

IMG_20171009_092336.jpg

Gear Review: Ray Way MYOG 2 Person Quilt

Currently, we use two Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina 15 sleeping bags. Kyle seems to have an allergy to down, so we are limited to synthetic options. At the time we purchased the bags, they were the lightest option I could find (1.2 kg / 2.6 lbs each) and we were able to purchase one left-hand zip and one right-hand zip to enable us to zip them together. Overall they work well, but they are definitely heavier and bulkier than other options.

Synthetic insulation hasn’t had too much innovation in the last few years and current synthetic sleeping bags have comparable weights. There has been a decent amount of design innovation though – namely backpacking quilts are becoming more common as well as dedicated two-person sleeping bags and quilts being available. Unfortunately for us, all the two-person quilt options available to buy seem to be down (which is great for most people!), so I started looking into making a quilt and found the Ray Way 2 Person Quilt Kit. There are also a number of online suppliers that sell the materials on their own. I decided to go with the kit option because it would provide all the needed materials (no worries about ordering too little or too much fabric) and it came with instructions and a pattern. I’d say I’m pretty average at sewing (mostly just use the machine for patching holes in clothing or hemming items) and I really appreciated having instructions and a pattern to guide me.

There’s a number of options when ordering – I went with the Alpine Insulation and Dual Colours.

The first step is cutting everything out – you will need quite a bit of floor space for this, we had to move our coffee table into the bedroom and switch the orientation of our dining table to make enough room.

After cutting everything out, you get to start sewing! I found it easier to use tape to hold things together rather the pins. The nylon is very slippery and it was tricky to get pins in the right spot.

Once everything is sewn (the zippers, gorget, and draft stoppers) it’s time to actually assemble the quilt stack and sew the insulation and nylon together. Since the stack is so thick, the instructions recommend using clothespins to secure everything.

You leave a small section at the bottom of each half to be able to flip it right side out. Then once it is flipped, make sure everything zips together properly and it looks right. Then you top stitch around the edge of the quilt and sew shut the opening at the bottom.

Once everything is sewn shut, you “quilt” the quilt and add yarn at even intervals to hold the insulation in place. The kit provides black yarn,  but I went out and bought some yarn that matched the fabric since I didn’t like the look of the black threads.

Then it is time to sew shut the footbox (if you want). This is the one place I didn’t follow the instructions. The instructions specify to basically fold the quilt in half and then sew the footbox – so you end up with a tall, but narrow footbox. I thought we would appreciate having more width, then height, so I didn’t follow this method. We’ll see how it actually works out after a few nights sleeping under the quilt. We did have enough leftover insulation and fabric that I could make a panel for the footbox to make it 3D and more box-like if we find this design doesn’t work.

Testing it out on our floor, we seem to have enough room under the quilt, but we’ll need to have a few nights outside to see if it’s warm enough. I’ll report back in the spring!

In the meantime, if you are interested in another review – Hiking Hammonds talk about making the quilt and how it worked out in their PCT Gear Review.

Announcing Next Hike: GDT

We are excited to announce that we will hike the GDT (Great Divide Trail) in the summer of 2018.

We will do our best to blog about the process. We have created a sub page here that will summarize all of our content about the hike.

Why the GDT?

We decided to do the hike earlier this year, around the spring of 2017. We had a lot going on and were not sure about whether we could commit to the hike or not until recently.

We want to do the hike because:

  • It’s in Canada and we are Canadian. This a pretty great hike within our home country and we really would like to experience it now that our jobs and lifestyle allow it. It also allows us to do a through hike without having to travel to the USA, which costs time and money. Hiking in Canada lets us spend our money locally.
  • The length of the hike is just about perfect for the time we can fit into our other parts of our life. It will take us less than 2 months to hike so that can nicely be fit in without too much disruption.
  • We hiked the Rockwall Trail in 2016 and got to experience part of the GDT. The Rockwall was amazing.
  • We still have other hikes on our list, but this one fit us at the time.

Natasha is (hopefully) going back to school in Fall 2018 so timing will be a little tight and we were not sure until recently that she would be able to finish all of the prerequisites.

I had gotten authorization in the summer to take the time off already so as soon as 2018 hits and the time management system at work will allow me to book vacation I will do so.

Current Status

We have been working through itinerary since the spring and doing as much research as possible. So far we have accomplished:

  • Fairly detailed itinerary – detailed enough to sort out reservations when the open up
  • Gear list is relatively complete – we have a pretty thorough and rolling gear list but we have added and already upgraded a few items in anticipation (quilt instead of sleeping bags, for example)
  • Resupplies mostly planned – we have identified where we will resupply at as part of our itinerary
  • Pricing out and planning of food has started

    Overall we are pretty excited about this and will share information as we develop our plans!