My Watermark is Cream Lake, BC.
When I set off to hike Flower Ridge one weekend in late June I did not expect to be told that the highlight of the trip would likely be Cream Lake.
How could that be? Cream Lake wasn?t on Flower Ridge ? heck, it wasn?t even close!
?Ah, but you?ll get a distant view of it right at the end of the ridge,? my friend said. ?And that view is worth the trip.?
All righty then. Flower Ridge was, of course, amazing. Linda and I hiked up, pitched a tent and the next day, set off for the end of the ridge and, as a last dollop of satisfaction, the top of Central Crags. We?d been hiking at least two or more hours when I glanced to my right ? and there it was: a perfect, round opaline jewel set inside an emerald basin. Wow!
Someday, I thought, I?m going to get a close-up view of that lake.
I had my opportunity a couple of months later when another hiking buddy and I decided to do Bedwell and Cream Lakes ? a day hike. Sure. Why not?
Little did we know what was involved, starting with a pretty darn bumpy ride on a mining road and then a fairly steep up to Baby Bedwell and then Bedwell Lakes ? both exceedingly beautiful. But we were determined to carry on. Up we went, past the campsites and on to Little Jim Mitchell Lake. It was at this point that the heat of August began to catch up with us. It was at least thirty-some degrees and the still cobalt waters of Little Jim Mitchell looked awfully inviting.
But no ? we had to press on. And we did ? up through rocks and scree and finally to a beautiful view over a fine, tree-studded valley. We?d been hiking at least five hours and had to admit it was time to call a turn-around. Cream Lake might be a half-hour away or two hours farther on. We didn't know. And we did want to get back before dark. Besides, there was that heat and back there, behind us, the cool waters of Little Jim Mitchell.
We ate lunch, turned and headed downhill. We started stripping off our clothes when we caught site of the lake and were down to skivvies when we hit the shore. Ouch! Cold! But oh so wonderful! We dressed on top of wet underwear, regretting only that the material dried too soon.
I was now more determined than ever to reach Cream Lake. In late September, four of us set out, this time with tents. The plan: hike up to Bedwell, pitch our tents ? hike on to Cream, turn, spend the night at Bedwell and then head out in the morning. Perfect.! What could go wrong?
We made it. It was a cool and rainy day with mist occasionally taking the place of rain. Our first sight of Cream was from a promontory directly above the waters. We?d all been questioning how great this lake could possibly be ? after all, this was one heckuva hike just to get to a lake.
No more questions! Cream Lake lived up to and hugely surpassed all expectations. If I?d thought it was a gem seen from Flower Ridge, this view put it in the category of a crown jewel.
It was enough to just stand there and stare as the sun did it?s best to shed a touch of light on it. We weren?t going to go down. We were tired and we still had to make it back to Bedwell. But I was curious to see where the down trail started and then I put a foot on it ? and then another and then ? well, you know how this ends.
We had snacks on the shores of the lake, letting it fill our senses.
We got back to camp minutes before the deluge began. Each of us huddled in our tent vestibules, cooked a meal and curled up in our sleeping bags. In the morning, the rain was still pounding down. Wet and chilly, we made our way back to the trucks.
And that should have been that. However, I had still not seen Cream Lake in its full splendour, bathed in sunshine, reflecting a bluebird sky. And so, the next summer, on a weather-perfect weekend, five of us set out to repeat the journey I?d done the year before. Hard to believe but true ? Cream was doubly beautiful bathed in sun, nestled at the feet of Septimus who was fully and majestically visible on this perfect day.
A year later, camping on Flower Ridge again, walking to the end, looking down at Cream, I was able to say, ?Yes, I know you, you beautiful lake ? I?ve been on your shores twice ? and next time I?m going to hike your full perimeter. And you bet there?s going to be a next time.?