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This northeast corner of the Stein is relatively remote and is accessed via either the deactivated Texas Creek Road or the cattle trail up Siwhe Creek (pronounced See-wee). The 1985 & 1987 Stein Festivals were held at Brimful Lake, back when you could drive the road to the trailhead. Now this almost 25 km. long road is bike or ATV access only, substantially reducing the number of visitors.

Not owning an ATV, and not having the time to add on an extra 2 days that the cycle in and out would require, I opted to plan our route via the cattle trail up Siwhe Creek. The approach is from the West Side Road between Lilooet and Lytton, then through the Hance Farm where there is a gate and a few houses. Here we asked the native family for permission to cross their land and to park our vehicle for the 5 days of our trip. They were extremely friendly, saying also that not more than one party per year used this route via their land.

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Route Overview
Day 1; June 29
The previous afternoon we'd driven from North Van. to a tiny rest area next to Texas Creek via the Duffey Lake Road. We camped the night here so we could get an extra early start hiking and make the 12 km's and 4,500 ft climb to Devils Lake.

We were pretty surprised at the size of the Texas Creek road - you can see in the photo at right what a tiny, narrow ribbon it is as it threads through the narrow chasm. We'd always just assumed it was one of the typical wide & brutal BC logging roads. Maybe it turns into just that, we only went up to the first bridge just around the corner.

The beginning of the Texas Creek road, about 20 feet up from the West Side road.
Off to an early start, we drove south on the West Side road for about 45 min. to the Hance farm. The friendly family allowed us to cross their land and park the van for 5 days, and told us we could drive across their fields and up the tracks to near where the Siwhe Creek canyon begins.
Crossing the farm fields we could see the narrow Siwhe Creek Canyon beginning.
It was 9:00 am by the time we had our hefty packs on and began hiking. The first 20 - 30 min. we followed a narrow road, then crossed a footbridge over the creek after which the cowpath began.

For generations the Hance family has been taking their cattle to Cattle Valley (which lies within the Stein boundaries) along this route. So it was only fitting that we would not only see plenty of evidence (i.e. pancakes), but some cows as well.

You can see the narrow path just to the left of the creek
Take this unsuspecting cow, for example.

We "herded" her and three more all the way to Devils Lake!!

Though the cow trail is a great hiking path, it is a long distance and climbs relentlessly. It threads through the scenic canyon, crosses numerous boulder fields and eventually crests out of the canyon and the grade becomes less steep.

In the mid-afternoon we entered the gradually opening valley and crossed larger boulder fields. We took a break in some trees near the base of one of these and noticed this bear-marked tree -------.

For the entire hike the weather kept changing at least every 15 minutes! From sun, to clouds, to light sprinkles, to mild rain and all combinations thereof.

About 30 minutes from the lake we were forced to layer on our goretex jackets and hats as the skies billowed in dark clouds and gave way to a cold and heavy rainstorm.

Fortunately, just as we neared the lake, the storm blew past down the valley (a trend we would see repeated dozens of times over the next few days) and blue sky opened overhead.

The Legend of Devils Lake

(as taken from Gordon White's Stein Vally Wilderness Guidebook)

"Devils Lake is an area of powerful spirits according to Indian legend. Even today, native people blacken their faces when passing by the lake in order to avoid being recognized by the devil who lives in the lake. One story reported by Judge Thomas Meagher of Lillooet tells of the devil, an old woman with long hair, floating around the lake on a alog chanting strange songs. Other accounts tell of herds of goat truning into stone, young maidens dying while swimming, and a bull with a dog on its head attempting to swim the lake and disappearing about halfway across."

Wary of potential devil sightings, we carefully approached the shoreline of the lake just before 4:30. Tired, we began searching for a suitable place to camp for the evening. Not finding anything near the lake, we settled for a small clearing just to the north of the lake below a vast boulder field and overlooked by towering peaks.
We settled into our camp, relieved to have the long hike over with and hopeful of some great alpine hiking for the next few days.
Tent Time!!
Day 2; July 1
After light rainshowers in the night, we awoke to brilliant blue sky and warm sun shining right into our tent.

Hungry for breakfast, we journeyed over to the cluster of trees where we'd hung our food. Only, it wasn't hanging anymore! Our bright red & yellow paddling throw rope (which doubles as our food rope) had been chewed in at least a dozed places! The packs, however, were thankfully untouched. Luckily only about 8 feet of rope on the beginning section were wrecked, so we left that piece along with an extra bottle of bug repellant at the camp spot for us to retrieve on our return.

Half an hour after leaving the lake we began crossing strips of alpine meadows between sections of forest. Once again the sky darkened and heavy rain fell, making us put on the goretex and pack covers. The rain followed us through the open meadows for 20 minutes, and stopped just as we stopped to take a compass bearing on the small alpine lake we wanted to base ourselves near for the next 3 nights.
Our base camp in the alpine at 6,900 feet.
Nearing the small lake, we felt awed by the huge, open scenery around us. We looked down into the Texas Creek valley and spotted the trail threading its way up towards us, then made our way to a small cluster of trees a 5 minute walk from the lake. This cluster afforded us a crucial windshelter, and despite the two massive, but dry, cowpies, we set up camp.
A view SE from the ridge NE of the samll lake - this gentle slope is the beginning of Rainbow Ridge
Just after setting up the tent it started to rain once again. Hungry, and not having any other shelter, we hunkered in the tent for lunch. It was a relief to be out of the cold wind & rain for an hour or so, but we were itching to get some more hiking in.

After the rain let up, we headed up the ridge northeast of the lake. An easy, but spectacular goal for the afternoon, the ridge afforded grand views of the Texax Creek Valley, the Skimath Creek Valley, Rainbow Ridge and Siwhe Mtn.

The wind howled and whipped around us as we hiked to the high point on the ridge, and thick clouds rolled in, obscuring what views we had.

Bear Defense - A "How-To" Video

Having had a few too many encounters with bears (including but not limited to one bluff charge and one predatorial stalking), Andre now packs not just one, but two "camp-size" cannisters of 'bear spray'. This video is a demonstration of one method of dealing with a bear encounter when "armed to the teeth" with pepper spray (note the sound of the wind and imagine what the spray might do when airborne!!)

Southwest Views From the Ridge

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Day 3; July 2

We awoke to mixed rain & hail, which quickly turned to snow. A thick fog blanketed the alpine, obscuring all but the nearest hills.

Fortunately, by 9:30 the snow had stopped and melted and the clouds had lifted enough for us to venture out for a day of exploration.

We hiked down to the Stein Divide where we could see into the quiet, pastoral Cattle Valley - complete with a herd of cattle!

Views of Cattle Valley from the Stein Divide

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We ascended the narrowing ridge, and near the top were promptly hit by another snow / hail / windstorm.

But, as the weather systems seemed to be moving in 15 minute intevals, as we reached the shores of spectacular Earlobe Lake, the clouds lifted once again and this time afforded us sunshine for our lakeside lunch!
Various Views of Earlobe Lake

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After spending a couple hours at Earlobe Lake, we climbed back up to the ridge and continued along the divide to a sharp and prominent peak with a great overview of Devils Lake to the NE and Ponderosa Creek Valley to the South.

View NE of Devils Lake
Click on the map thumbnail for a larger view of our route
On the ridge of the Stein Divide, looking East to our final destination for the day.
Day 4; July 3
Blue sky greeted us for our last full day in the alpine! Anxious to finally see Brimful Lake, the site of the 1985 & 1987 Stein Fesivals, we packed up our day packs and made our way along Rainbow Ridge.

The ridge begins as a wide, gradual slope, but the final climb is fairly steep, rocky, narrow and not for those timid of heights or pricipices. Not being overly fond of the latter, but driven by a great desire to reach the top and see the lake with my own eyes, I followed Andre's lead and actually found this last short, but seemingly rugged, climb to be of no matter.

The views from the top. The red dotted line marks our route from camp. The ridge just below the 'Devils Lake' lettering is the divide which we'd hiked along the day before.
Various Views of Brimful Lake

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We descended from the high point on the ridge to 7,600 ft., from where we angled onto the steep slopes above high the lake.

The sky became overcast as we descended, and we were struck how there was almost an eerie silence surrounding the lake. Even the once well-used trail entering the meadows from the NW is being reclaimed by the mountains.

Tired after another day of much hiking, we crashed in the meadows for an hour on the shore of the lake. During lunch dark clouds once again closed in around us and rain threatened. Having left our goretex jackets, pants and various other items in a stash on Rainbow Ridge, we figured we'd better get moving before being caught on the open ridge.

Click on the map thumbnail for a larger view of our route
From Rainbow Ridge looking north to a small alpine lake above Texas Creek. The Brimful Lake trail from the Texas Creek road is faintly visible at the far left, skirting between the trees and scree slope.
A final view NE of Rainbow Ridge on the return hike
Day 5; July 4
Awaking at 6:00 am to a cold wind whipping through our cluster of trees, we ate breakfast, packed up, did some streaching and were ready for departure at 8:00.

On our descent through the meadows, we spooked a lingering herd of cows. Not wanting to 'herd' them 14 km's back to the farm, we quickly detoured below and around them before they were able to get on the trail ahead of us.

Tent packed away, packs ready to go, Andre does some final stretching before the long hike back.
The alpine meadows were in full bloom!
The temperature rose rapidly as we descended. By the time we were back at our campsite on Devils Lake I was in a full sweat. Changing out of the warm pants, multiple sweaters, soft shell, wool hat and gloves which had been mandatory the past 3 days into shorts and tank top was quite a relief!

We retrieved our extra bottle of bug spray that we'd left behind, but there was no sign of our bright red & yellow piece of rope! No doubt the little critter that had been chewing our food rope the first night was more than delighted to find our little "present"!

Hiking down the narrowing canyon was a long journey, and about 1:00 we settled in for a lengthy lunch break on a gravel clearing next to the river. A cautious deer came up behind us, slowly walking into the bushes by the creek for a drink.

Siwhe Creek was rushing full to the brim, cooling the hot canyon and deafening any sound. A huge brown cow spooked us twice, turning our legs to jelly as she 'exploded' from the bush onto the trail only meters ahead of us! Surprisingly she'd somehow not heard our enormous racket of whistling and yodelling... (lots of bear scat on the trail).

We crossed the first bridge about 3:00, and the second about 20 minutes later. We stuffed ourselves on Saskatoon berries along the narrow farm road and were back at our trusty syncro by 4:00.

Despite the cold, rain, hail, snow, fog and wind, we had an amazing adventure. We felt very thankful that we hadn't been completely sopped in for several days and that we were able to hike to all the "features" exactly as I'd originally planned! This area has such a remote and pristine feel - we will most definitely be back for more!