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Day 1: Lytton Trail Head to Camp 1

The adventure began on a cool, overcast morning at 5:30 AM at "Kroecher Headquarters" on Kings Rd, the meeting place for 8 of the 9 in our group. John, travelling from Kelowna, would meet us all at the trail head later that day.

Ken was the first to arrive at 6:25, followed by Heidi at 7:00. San, Dan and Stephan were off to an unusually early start and arrived at 7:40. We loaded our monster-packs into the vehicles, but not before getting a scale out and weighing in each pack. Needless to say, the packs were a little "excessive" -- except for Ken's, whose was perhaps a little on the light side. I guess he was planning on catching some fish...

Gearing-up at the Lytton Trail Head
L-R: Andre, Reimar, John, Heidi
L-R: Ken, Stephan, Dan (pointing at Ken's white shorts), San
After a very lengthy car shuttle up and down from the Lizzi Lake trail head (where it was freezing cold and pouring rain), we now travelled in two vehicles over the Duffey Lake road to Lillooet, then south to the ferry over the Fraser River at Lytton and to the trail head. We arrived at 5:00 PM, two hours after we'd arranged to meed John. We piled out of the cars, stepped into our boots and eager to stretch our legs began on the great journey.
The sun made its first appearance that day as we gathered at the trail head
We made our first night's camp after just over an hour on the trail, close to the base of "Devil's Staircase" (if they call that Devil's Staircase, then what's the climb from Stein Lake to the alpine??). With six tents among us, we realized it could be tricky at times to find enough flat ground to accommodate our large crew. Settling into food preparations, the stove Heidi and Ken were sharing broke (MSR--what do you expect. The same happened to Ian & Aynslie on our 2003 Chilcotin trek, but on the last day). Fortunately their fuel worked with the stove Andre, Reimar and I were sharing, so for the next 9 days it was the five of us on the one stove!
Day 2: Camp 1 to Waterfall Creek Camp

Emerging from the tents at 7:00 AM, we found ourselves under overcast skies until we were ready to leave camp.

The trial started out beautifully flat and smooth, then took us up the relatively small ascent of the famous, rocky "Devil's Staircase".

Stein Chicks
The Stein River rushes through dry country as it nears the Fraser
Just before lunch, San and I were in the lead with Reimar close behind. All of a sudden we spotted a large black bear, not twenty feet from us, sitting eating berries. He crashed off into the bush not two seconds after we spotted him, but it was enough of a reminder for us to make noise while hiking. For the next nine days we raised such a racket that it was no wonder we saw no wildlife other than mosquitoes (and somehow they just don't count).
Earl's Cabin
At 3:00 we stepped from the forest into the clearing where the rebuilt replica of Trapper Earl's cabin stood. A great spot for an excuse to drop our packs, horse around and take lots of photos.
L-R: Reimar, Dan, Heidi, San, Stephan, Trudel, Ken, Andre, John
The First Cable Car Crossing
At 4:00 we arrived at the first of the three cable crossings we were to encounter. This crossing has since been replaced with a bridge, but two more cable crossings have been added; one over Cottonwood Creek and another just at the outflow of Stein Lake.

To give the "rider" a plesant journey over the river, we would take turns helping pull the ropes, one person at each end. Only the first person going across had to make some effort -- of course that would be Andre.

San helps pulley me across the Stein from one side as others help from the opposite side
After crossing the Stein River, we began to look for a suitable camping site lagre enough for our six tents. We came across several nice smaller spots, but nothing sizeable enough to accommodate our large group. As we began to tire from the first long day and our heavy packs, we finally came to a very spacious, dry area alongside the river and happily set up camp.
Day 3: Waterfall Creek Camp to Cottonwood Creek Camp

At this point you may be wondering where we came up with the names for the camps. Well, we didn't. Western Canada Wilderness Committee did when they originally built the trail in trying to gain protection for the pristine valley. We have them to thank for the trail (though they did follow old Native routes) and for the fact that it is now a park!

A happy crew poses next to the tranquil, tropical-looking water of the Stein River. Andre looks mighty pleased with his enormous pack, Trudel looks pretty pleased about her legs, San looks pleased to be able to carry a pack and walk at all (even at a 90 degree angle), while Stephan is trying to hide exactly how pleased he is.
John's First Vanishing Act

About noon I spotted some pictographs on a large rock in a mosquito-infested forest. After a brief look, John and I continued, leaving the others, except Ken and Heidi who were already ahead of us, behind.

John and I became separated when I stopped to linger over some bushes hung with large saskatoon berries. Not wanting to continue on my own, I waited for the others to catch up. San arrived first, followed shortly by Dan, then Andre, Reimar and Stephan. I went ahead with Andre and Reimar, and after about ten minutes came to a vague fork in the trail. We heard Ken and Heidi's voices coming from the direction of the river, so we took the small fork and found them at the tranquil little spot with the Ponderosa shelter. Andre doubled back to make sure San & co.

Heidi standing under the Ponderosa Shelter
took the fork, then as we all assembled realized John was missing. He must have missed the fork and continued along the trail. Tired and hungry, we decided to settle down to lunch without John, we'd catch him later. Andre and Ken ran down the trail ten minutes at top speed (and these boys can move), but didn't find him.

After lunch and a talk about keeping the "groups" closer together, we continued. Half an hour down the trail we came across John, casual as usual and settled comfortably in the bush reading his book!

Pack Attack!! The price you pay with an overloaded pack...
The "Golden Crew" is in the lead, making tracks for Cottonwood Creek Camp
Cottownwood Creek Camp

By 5:30 we all began to feel the effects of the long walk, the heavy packs and the relentless mosquitoes. Achey shoulders, sore feet were all a part of our journey, making the reward of arriving at the clean, rocky campsite along Cottonwood Creek at 6:45 that much sweeter.

We set up our tents, made a communal kitchen area, bathed in the icy water, and made use of the large metal food cache.

We sat around the fire, enjoying stories and the starry night before wearily stumbling into our bags for the night.