Our friend Line invited us and a few other families to join a hiking and camping trip to Ilal meadows. We’ve been there twice before and in fact we just talked about going there again with Neil since the access is pretty short. In fact, on our previous visit, Neil was already peanut-sized.
There was a lot of interest in the hike and six families showed up just after 9am at a rest area on the Coquihalla Hwy. There were quick introductions, but mainly watching the kids so they wouldn’t get run over by cars. At least we wouldn’t need to worry about that for the rest of the weekend. It was basically our first hiking trip with other families, and we weren’t sure exactly how it would go, but it was great.
We all drove up together, but our car and another car could not make it up the last part of the logging road. The previous two times we hiked it, but now we got a ride with our friends in their four-wheel drive which was very nice. Seeing Christian just driving across the water bars made me think that we might need to get a car like this one of these days. With our low clearance vehicle, we usually struggle with every water bar and in the end decide to walk anyway, so it’s a complete waste of time.
Once everyone showed up at the trail head we started the hike in, everyone at their own pace. There were eight kids all together and six families. Actually most families had two kids or one parent and one child, so we figured that our ratio was pretty good. The kids’ ages ranged from three months to seven years, which was a nice variety. Some of the kids walked part of the way, while the oldest hiked all the way in with a big smile on her face the whole time. This was Matt Gunn’s daughter and she was such a good spirit. For us it was awesome to finally meet Matt since we have followed many of his descriptions from his scrambles guidebook.
Neil fell asleep a few minutes before we arrived to our camping spot at the lake below Jim Kelly peak. After everyone arrived and rested, people started looking for spots for their tents. Gili found us a prime location just on the bank of the lake. The next couple of hours were spent throwing rocks into the lake, an activity that didn’t seem to tire those little ones. It was a lot colder than expected but on the plus side there were no mosquitoes.
Since it was freezing when we went to sleep we wore many layers and were tucked in our sleeping bags. Sometime in the early morning we started sweating, a nice warm day was ahead of us. Everyone had breakfast together but then the group split up as some wanted to head down early. It was nice to hang out with everyone, but between watching the kids and interacting with them, there wasn’t a lot of time to socialize unfortunately.
We decided to go up Mt. Jim Kelly, which we climbed seven years ago, but somewhere along the way I started feeling very uncomfortable. I haven’t done any scrambling for a long time, but mostly didn’t feel comfortable having Neil with us there. So at some point I had to insist that we’d stop and not go any further.
The compromise was that Neil and I would wait and have some snacks while Gili went to the top. Line was just coming down Jim Kelly herself and was very kind to wait with Neil and I. When Gili came back he had to admit that it was a bit too much for Neil. It’s weird how our memory deceives us. Yes, we climbed it seven years ago and it did not seem like a big deal at the time, but perspectives do change.
We went back to camp easily, had lunch and packed up and then started our hike down. We passed a few of our friends on the way as the two three year olds hiked the last part of the trail. Christian drove us back to our car, and we had to do some car shuffling to fit everyone in.
We met up with everyone who came down late in Hope at the Greek restaurant for a well appreciated post-hike dinner. We heard that there was a lot of traffic for those who came down early, so we were happy we stayed longer in the backcountry, we were in no hurry to get back to the city.
I think everyone who came had a great time. For some families it was their first hike and/or camping trip with two kids. It was very inspiring to see the families who made the effort to spend the weekend in the backcountry with their kids. It was also nice to see the kids get along and encourage each other to hike. I don’t think there is a better way to spend a summer weekend. Thanks Line for organizing and hope to do it again soon!