It’s awhile since I’ve done a hill-climb with the Octogenarian Mountain Goat, so a run up to the seasonal waterfalls on Davidson Creek seemed like a good idea for Saturday morning. What was I thinking. Any notion that we’d actually make it back by noon (as advertised) or that I might enjoy a mildly-stimulating bit of exercise on the last day before I hit the big 6-0 was completely out of the question. How could I not know that this hike would turn into one of Dad’s infamous adventures in bushwhacking.
Davidson Creek tumbles down the steep flank of Carrot Mountain on the west side of Okanagan Lake. The access point for the trail is in the housing development behind Shannon Lake Golf Course. To see the falls, you have to make this climb during spring runoff. Later in the year, the creek goes underground. In winter, the falls is an ice wall.
It’s a pretty steep track, but I was feeling very pleased with the results of my daily Zumba. When I stopped to take a pic, it was actually because I wanted the shot, not because I needed a hit of oxygen. We were hiking with a terrific couple from Peachland, Paul and Elvira, who immigrated to the Okanagan from Ontario a year ago. They have hiked with Dad before, but the poor souls really didn’t have a clue what they were in for.
I’m not going to go into painful detail here, I’m saving that for the next volume of Grandma Wears Hiking Boots. But here are the highlights:
- gorgeous sunny morning, perfect temp. in the low 20s
- succession of wildflowers just finishing or coming into bloom depending on elevation: included arnica, wild clematis, wild strawberry, arrowleaf balsamroot, penstamon and prickly pear cactus
- sound and glimpses of white water as the trail follows the creek
- sudden emergence into a very small space where the trail crosses the creek – waterfall misting the air and spreading its veil across the rock face
So far we’re right on track, no stress, no strain. Question: should we return the way we came or go on and complete the loop?
Plenty of time, all feeling good. Let’s go on.
Sometimes in life you recognize pivotal moments right away. Other times, they don’t hit you until, say, you’re sliding on your bum down a near vertical skree slope collecting prickly pear cactus as you try to brake with your unprotected hands.
I’m not going to say that the rest of the hike was sheer torture. On the contrary, it was super to rediscover the notched log that makes part of the ascent to the summit possible for those other than mountain goats (of any age). The last time I climbed that log, I took a souvenir photo. It’s a slide – yes, I’m talking film here. So you can appreciate how excited I was to find the log still here. But how times change, this shot comes to you courtesy of my iPhone.
And then there was the summit. Sadly, it was pretty hazy, but the view of West Kelowna and Okanagan Lake, the eastern ridges and Little White still wearing her winter toque was worth every vertical step.
After that – pure survival.
I readily concede that it is a miracle of his GPS/map reading/guiding skills that the Mountain Goat was able to bring us out (three tortuous, trail-free hours later) at exactly the spot where an easement provides access between the subdivision houses to the mountainside. The man is good. But I’d like to point out that during that entire 550-metre descent there was virtually no attention paid to wildflower spotting or spectacular views.
No, that descent was all about – You want me to cross that rock face, how? – I am testing the wiggly rocks with my hiking stick, and, famously – for about the last two hours – Are we there, yet?
Don’t think I’m ungrateful. I realize that Dad feels duty-bound to ceaselessly labour to provide me with new and ever more memorable grist for the literary mill. But seriously, just once I’d appreciate a walk in the park – literally. Are you reading this, Dad?
As for Paul and Elvira, I’ve never met a more game pair. Let’s face it, mid-mountain mutiny would not have been uncalled for. I wouldn’t have held it against them if they’d just sat down on a tick-infested hummock of bunch grass (the only thing solid enought to hold your weight on that cliff-face) and demanded helicopter rescue. Heck, I’d have been right there with them. But, no, they had to keep right on going (forcing me to do the same) and they even wrapped up the day with a comment that’s still got me shaking my head.
Standing dust-caked, sweating and red-faced at the foot of the mountain, Paul looked the Goat right in the eye and, wearing what looked for all the world like a genuine grin, said, “That was a real BC hike!”
Heaven help us, are we developing a herd of goats?
P.S. Thanks, Dad, for a great day – and another great story.
First posted May 22, 2012