Punch Bowl Loop: A Jungle in Manning Park

Taking a nap on the Whatcom Trail

The plan was to sleep on the summit of Snass Mtn, half way around the Punch Bowl Loop. But things don’t always go according to the plan. Both on trips and in general, in life. We need to adapt our expectations to a constantly changing reality. Otherwise, we are doomed to be unhappy and unsatisfied. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

Old Man’s Beard covered trees all around

We hiked up the Whatcom Trail through a beautiful forest, covered with bright green moss and stringy Old Man Beard, as thick as a sheep’s coat ready for shearing. Maya wasn’t feeling so well, so we took lots of breaks and a nap or two. Higher on the trail we started seeing some views, mostly of the neat looking horn on Snazzy Mountain, which is also when the berries started slowing us down.

Punch Bowl Lake, our camp for the night

Snass Mountain (L) at sunset

When we reached the pass, it was already the early evening. We could see the picturesque Punch Bowl Lake below us, nestled amongst the green hillocks. We started heading up, towards Snass Mountain, on very steep heather. After a short while we realized we didn’t have the time and energy to take us to the summit that day. Instead we dropped down the other side of the pass, and set up camp on the shore of Punch Bowl Lake. We watched as the orange glow of the sunset moved across Snass Mountain and Sitkum Peak above us.

Blueberry bushes at Paradise Meadows

The next day started out foggy and cold. We realized we wouldn’t be heading up to Snass Mountain after all, and instead packed up and started hiking down. We reached Paradise Meadows where there is a small campground. At the meadows we had a long blueberry picking session. The blueberry bushes had already changed colour to a surprisingly bright red and the blueberries were small but extremely flavourful.

The Dewdney Trail

From Paradise Meadows we headed down on the historic Dewdney Trail, which used to be the main route connecting the coast and the mountains, back when there was no road and people travelled on foot or by horse. By this time the clouds were starting to clear and we could see some blue sky. The trail was akin to a jungle for long sections, but pushing through the vegetation was easy since it was all soft, mostly thimbleberry bushes and the likes. It was actually a very neat feeling to be hiking through the lush green valley, with the trail only barely visible but easily followed.

Dry Lake

Lower down the trail followed a dry creek bed. Apparently so much soil and rocks have eroded onto this creek that it flows mostly underground. We enjoyed some of the largest and plumpest huckleberries I’ve ever had, and aside from the delicious blueberries, there was a small selection of every single type of berries we’ve had in BC: strawberries, thimble-berries, salmon berries, the rare raspberries,¬†and even saskatoons, more commonly found farther east. We had lunch while leaning our backs on huge old growth trees, at least hundreds of years old and then passed by an odd, permanently dry lake. We reached the car to full blue skies, and were happy to strip down to shorts and sandals in the warm sun for the drive back to Vancouver.

More photos

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