2003-07-27
2004-08-22
Twin Lakes
2003-July-27

I waited a year for this hike.   This trails lead up to Elliot Creek into the Barkley Valley.  The historic name of the valley is Lawlaton ("Paradise", having plentiful game and food), it is considered to be a place of spiritual significance within the traditional territory of the local N'Quat'Qua people.
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The area offers good opportunities during summer and fall for hiking and exploring in sub-alpine forest and above treeline.  Winter recreation activities such as ski touring are not advised since regular snow avalanche activity occurs along the steep valley walls, but still some people do it!
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Crossing Crystal Creek
There is limited mechanized use of this trail by the local Cayoosh Recreation Club, which has accepted a stewardship role in managing the valley.   This area has been travelled and hunted for centuries by the N'Quat'Qua people.  Settled in the area of present-day D'Arcy and Anderson Lake, they would often travel southeast over the main divide of the Cascade Range to Duffy Lake on trails along Haylmore and Common Johnny Creeks.
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A pack trail was established in the 1930's which followed that route from Anderson Lake to Common Johnny Creek, then extended up Elliot Creek to mineral prospects in what is now know as the Barkley Valley.  Prospector Tom Barkley developed the pack trail into a rough mining road in the early 1960's, and he built a cabin for himself.  Barkley's cabin was demolished by an avalanche, but mine workings, old vehicles, and other signs of settlement are still evident in the area.  Dozens of mineral claims were staked in the valley between the old camp and Twin Lakes.

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Native people and other locals continue to hunt, trap and recreate this valley.  An expanding network of logging roads in the last two decades has replaced the lower sections of the original trail.  The climate in this valley, influenced by the Pacific Ocean and by local topography, produces heavy snowfall in the winter and moist, cool summer weather.  Subalpine fir has established itself as the dominant tree species, although hybrid Engelmann spruce, amabilis fir and mountain hemlock may also be found.  Thistle dominates the ground cover here.  It prospers on slopes that are periodically disturbed by avalanches and is know to invade and out-compete other plant species.  A non-native species, thistle may have been introduced to this valley by way of settlers to the area and their cattle.  While thistle blooms in brilliant colour in late summer or fall, other flowers such as Indian paintbrush and avalanche lilies bloom earlier in the spring and summer.

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After 9 kms you reach the end of the ATV trail, but still 40 minutes remain to visit our final destination "Twin Lakes".  At higher elevations the tree cover gives way to subalpine meadows, heath communities dominated by dwarf evergreen shrubs, and assorted plants, mosses, and lichens growing among the talus slopes and rocky outcrops.  Hardy, low-growing alpine plants are indicative of the harsher climate above treeline.  These complex plant communities have evolved over time to become important ecosystem components that help support a variety of life, including the large mountain goat population in the valley.  Alpine plant communities take a long time to recover from disturbance, which is why mechanized recreation is not permitted off the trail.
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After 10 minutes of the "End of Trail" sign and at 2100 msn the first Twin Lake was reached.

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Then, again we turn around and we have a beautiful view of the valley and the mountains.

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This lake has a gorgeous green hue and is strangely shallower in the middle that at the edges.

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Then we follow a sketchy trail around the west side of the lake.

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The last 100 meters before the second lake are quite steep.

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After 30 minutes we reach the upper lake right on the divide.  I couldn't take the picture from the divide because my digital camera's card was full :(

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Round trip: 21 km (12.6 mi)
Elevation gain: 1040 m (3400 ft)
High point: 2260 m (7400 ft)
Time spent: 8 hours.

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