We haven’t done trips in Manning Park for maybe four years, and I had set my eyes on Frosty Mountain for a while. I think I especially liked the name, but this weekend it was definitely not frosty there, or anywhere close to it.
As usual we packed late on Friday night as we were invited for dinner at friends, went to sleep late and didn’t get an early start on Saturday. The drive was quite long, nearly three hours, and by the time we started hiking it was almost noon. The trail starts at Lightning Lake Day Use area and immediately starts to climb. The first part is in the forest, which was nice and cool and not too steep. We had lunch before we reached the wilderness campground. At the campground there was an old dilapidated cabin. This whole campground looked quite depressing and its location, only 7 km from the trail head, does not make sense at all.
So we continued further and finally reached the famous larch trees that are about 2,000 years old, and the oldest trees in Canada. It’s supposed to be very nice to do this trip in the Fall and see their needles turn golden. The problem is that by then it is probably pretty frosty in the area.
We broke into the alpine and began to climb more steeply to reach the ridge. Then there was some nice ridge walking and eventually the last stretch to the summit. We reached the summit at 6pm and had it all to ourselves. Lucky we didn’t start earlier or we would have too much time to kill in the baking sun. We took some photos, admired the views, especially of of Castle Peak in the US, and started cooking dinner. There was a patch of snow not too far and we used it for a water source as there is no running water on the summit (not a big surprise). This is in fact the east summit and the “true” summit, only 15 meters higher, is to the west and is harder to reach.
Someone had built a rock wall as protection for the wind for one tent, so we were lucky that there were no other people who wanted to stay on the the top. We set up the tent and waited for the sun to set. The sky was perfectly clear and we waited impatiently for night time as there was a meteor shower that night. After about an hour of darkness we discovered that the tent was useless and it’s much better to just sleep under the stars to watch them “fall”. So we kicked out the tent and just slept under the stars for the first time in many years. There is something so liberating in just sleeping outside. We used to do it all the time while hiking in Israel and Jordan, but I am not sure I’ve ever slept out in Canada. It was a bit cold, but not too bad, and the bugs didn’t bother us at all! The best part was the free show provided by mother nature. We saw many shooting starts, maybe one or two a minute. Some of them were really impressive and left a glowing tail behind them. We fell asleep while watching the stars and meteors. Like we say in our family, “a million stars hotel”.
We woke up to a beautiful morning and again were surprised by the lack of bugs. Gili wanted to to climb to the West summit, the “real” one, but it looked too sketchy to me and I didn’t see any point in doing that, as the views were probably pretty much the same. He then thought of going by himself, but eventually decided not to. So we began our way down, first back along the ridge and then turned off onto the Windy Joe Trail on the south side, which made this trip into a very nice loop. This trail is somewhat longer, but also less steep. The flowers were in full bloom on this side (it gets more sun), so we had colorful combinations of orange, purple and yellow.
When we finally reached the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail, which can be hiked all the way to Mexico, we had a nice long break for lunch. On our way down we came across a family of four walking with their bikes, they didn’t really know where they were going, maybe Frosty. If they were already pushing their bikes there, there was no way they were going to make it up, and it was already 3pm. We told them our opinion and gave them our extra map and carried on.
Once we were back at the road there was still some distance to cover to get to the parking lot where our car was. We started hiking back on a trail along the road, but it was boring and hot, so I waited and Gili caught a ride to the parking lot. When we were driving back we returned the favour to two hikers who did the loop in the other direction, saving them the same boring hike. When Gili got back to pick me up we turned around and went back to Lightning Lake. I like it when great trips end with great swims, it means that it is really summer!
All in all I think Frosty Mountain is an excellent trip. It’s a nice loop, not too strenuous with great views. If you then sleep on the summit and watch meteor shower, you got yourself one memorable weekend.