Day 1 Trail Head to Floe Lake Campground, 10.5 km 720 m elevation gain, 4 hrs.
We arrived at the trailhead parking lot just after 10:30am. The weather forecast had called for mostly clear skies, with only a chance of rain later on on Day 2. We had our packs on quickly, trying to ignore the excited whining from the dogs as we got ready. After the obligatory pre-hike photos, a friendly person took a group shot, we were on our way by 11am.
Lots of excitement to start the hike. Links may be getting old, and is lacking a bit of stamina, but his enthusiasm for hiking is still sky high. Both dogs were hiking at the end of the leash, but Volcano maintained her position as Lead Dog.
The trail actually heads away from the valley with Floe Creek, crossing a small plateau, before dropping down to a bridge over the Vermilion River. Once on the other side of the river, the trail starts to head back towards the valley which will take us to Floe Lake. The entire area was burned in July 2003 by the Tokumm – Verendrye Creek fire. The effects of the fire were with us all the way to the head wall just before Floe Lake. After about 20 minutes we came to a little access trail to Floe Creek. Even though I am carrying water for the dogs, we decided to stop and allow the dogs to drink from the creek.
Only a minute after rejoining the trail we crossed over a bridge to the north side of Floe Creek. As we left the creek we passed by some people coming down from Floe Lake. A couple of switchbacks would take us up to the top of a small rise. We were now facing up the valley looking at the head wall in the distance that will be the final climb to Floe Lake. It has taken us 35 minutes to get to this point, 2.5 km and 134 m of elevation.
Fire is a nature part of the process of rebirth and regeneration in the forest. The short term effects can be devastating, but Mother Nature takes a long term view of life and the effects of fire is overwhelmingly positive. Despite it being 16 years since the fire in the valley the mark the fire has left on the land is evident everywhere. Still standing dead tree trunks are everywhere we look and new growth is still working hard to be seen. Fallen trees make their way to the creek below and accumulate in pinch points. It makes the trail very open, allowing for big views in all directions but provides very little cover in case it is very hot or rainy……..
The hiking was very easy over the next 5.5 km as the trail rises steadily a mere 230 m, with only a few small up and downs. We did not rush along the trail but stopped frequently to enjoy the views, take pictures and have our lunch. We encountered only one other group hiking, a couple and their dog. I am pretty sure that they were going to Floe Lake but we never saw them at the lake. They may have gone onto the next campsite on the Rockwall trail at Numa Creek about 9 km past Floe Lake.
We stopped for lunch along the trail. The dogs have collapsible water bowls in which I put in some food and water to keep them fed and hydrated. While we were eating I took photos and did try to get a little creative.
Back on the trail, it was only a couple minutes before we came to a bridge over a small creek. Both the dogs took long drinks from the creek.
Leaving the creek the vegetation trailside became very thick and lush. It took about 20 minutes to arrive at the next creek at the base of the headwall to Floe Lake. We had to walk about 20 m up the creek before starting the major climb of the day. On this day it was easy to walk up the creek, coming home the net day this would be a bit of an obstacle. To gain the top of the headwall, it is about 340 m of elevation in just 1.75 km, it took me just under an hour.
As we started up the headwall, Links made a little climb into a small adventure, not sure what he was thinking. The vegetation changed completely compared to the burned open slopes of the valley. Everywhere we looked was lush and green and there where ferns on the lower slopes of the trail.
We crisscrossed over the headwall as we worked to gain elevation. After about 10 minutes, we were heading to the north side and entered an area that had suffered some fire damage. Upon heading back to the south side the thick vegetation returned. After about 45 minutes I was struggling a bit under the weight of my pack so I let Siobhan take the puppies and told her to go on ahead. It was not far to Floe Lake, the lake is almost immediately after you top over the headwall so I was not worried about Siobhan getting lost.
I hiked the last 15 minutes by myself. Eventually the trail flattens out and I arrived at the top. It is only about 300 m from the top to Floe Lake Campground. Having arrived before 3 pm, I was in no rush so I stopped to take some photos of the flowers that populated the trail side.
We dropped our packs at the first available campsite then went to explore the campground. After walking around the entire campsite we both decided that our original choice was the best. So we returned to our campsite and proceeded to set up camp.
It took us about 30 minutes to set up the tent and inflate the sleeping pads. We put our food away in the bear lockers and headed down to view the lake, it is why we came and it did not disappoint.
We walked counter clockwise around the lake. The beach was very rocky definitely not a sandy beach vacation. We came upon the Parks Canada Patrol Cabin and a stream flowing into Floe Lake that drains the meadows above leading to Numa Pass.
On our way back to the main beach Links found a stick to play with which was really a small log. He was so happy. Once we had finished our exploration of the area we opened a couple of beers to celebrate where we were.
The campground has 18 sites so there were lots of people about. A couple of young boys took an interest in the dogs and spent a few minutes petting them. The boys were with a group of 14 who were hiking the Rockwall and this was day 1. We went back to the bear lockers to get the puppies their food and fed them on the beach. Then we set about getting our dinner ready, rehydrated food with added sausages to give a little punch.
During dinner we befriended a father/daughter team who were just finishing up hiking the Rockwall. The little girl took an interest in the dogs. She has a three legged dog at home and obviously was missing her dog. She gave both the dogs lots of personal attention. We talked to both of them for quite a while and again at breakfast the next morning.
Just before bed I went for a walk around the campsite and took some more pictures.
Good night from Floe Lake.