On Saturday, July 21 2012 I decided to take the family on a nice hike. The weather forecast was calling for sun and warmth until the day before when it changed to clouds in the morning and sun in the afternoon. We decided to take the chance and go anyway.
Years earlier I had hiked into Headwall Lakes in bad weather on an attempt at Fortress Mountain. At that time I remember thinking how gorgeous this area was and that I should come back in nice weather. Unfortunately although I was right about the scenery, we didn't pick the best weather to do it in...
There's nothing much to the hike itself, but routefinding is a surprising challenge considering that many folks do this hike on most summer weekends! The issue is the confusing network of old logging roads running between the Chester Lake and Sawmill day use areas. Some of these roads are used for xcountry ski trails or snowshoe trails in the winter but others are simply over grown or have temporary hiking paths on them.
Using the guidebooks is find, except they tend to reference the trails by their old 'names' which are just colors and no longer seem to be marked that way!
We used Gillean Daffern's guidebook and ended up getting pretty lost trying her 'shortcut' via an old logging road. We ended up hiking 4 extra kilometers before finally breaking down and starting the hike all over from the Chester lake parking lot!! Good thing my family was in a good mood or this could have been a hike-killer. The dog was exhausted before the hike even started though! :-)
Once we started from the parking lot we followed Gillean's description to the 't' and we managed to find the single track into Headwall Lakes. The group in front of us was following a different guide book and were quite lost - we helped them find the correct trail several times, including watching them walk right past the single track! There have been significant mud flows over parts of the trail, and we found the steep lower treed section under the headwall to be very over grown and muddy. On the way down we bypased this section on climber's right, on the huge scree slopes running beside the treed slope.
The wind was cold at the top, but the karst pavement was enjoyed by the kids and dog who ran around will Hanneke and I tried to stay warm. Overall I really enjoy this hike and this area but I really want to experience it in SUNSHINE for once. Next time we'll also bag Fortress and descent via Chester Lake.