Wound too tight? Try Champion Lakes

Few people would disagree that in today’s society, daily life can be complex, busy and stressful at times. Stress is a very real phenomenon. Depending on how you choose to begin or end your day you can greatly reduce the stress you feel, regardless of what the circumstances may be. Taking time for yourself is possibly the most beneficially relaxing thing that should be on your to-do list. We all need down-time and hiking or walking in the outdoors can be a fun way to create a healthy balance in your life and help you cope with stress. This past week, after sitting at my desk for hours designing and developing content management systems for clients, I decided it was time to get out and hike. So, I made some time and took the easy drive from Sunningdale, through Beaver Valley to the Champion Lakes Provincial Park to walk the trails connecting the three lakes. These beautiful mountain lakes are surrounded by lush, green vegetation and moist interior cedar-hemlock, alpine fir and yellow pine. They form the headwaters of Landis Creek, which flows northward to join Champion Creek, a tributary of the Columbia River. If you have never been to the Champion Lakes area, diversity is the word that best describes what awaits those seeking an early morning, daytime or evening adventure in the park. The park’s largest lake lies at the centre of the provincial park and offers a wide variety of wildlife and birds, including nighthawks, owls, deer, coyotes, black bears, snowshoe hares, pikas and beavers. It also has excellent facilities for camping, two beaches, excellent fishing, swimming and a children’s playground. The two smaller lakes are in the east and west portions and are accessible by walking trails. The second lake is accessible by vehicle as well. By taking this early evening walk in the fresh air and making the time to enjoy the stunning geography of this wild and unpopulated space, it allowed me to make some slight shifts and beneficial adjustments in my daily routine. The next day, I was thinking more clearly about my web development work and afterwards I was soon thinking about my next trip up to the Champion area to hike the Lookout trail. The park also offers full camping facilities in case you wanted to stay for a few days or a week. The backcountry trails and landscapes offer breathtaking beauty that will be sure to please anyone, even those in most need of some relaxing down-time. The hiking trails start at the third lake and you can easily walk around the lake and back to the parking lot in just over an hour. Each of the other two more remote lakes offer beautiful scenery and it is likely you may not encounter another human during your hike, unless it is the height of the summer. Hiking in the outdoors can make an enormous difference in how well you feel. If you are anything like me and have a busy schedule, hiking will allow you to become a more reflective person. After this trip into the outdoors, you will become a spiritually richer person. If you engage in something like hiking in the outdoors every day, you’ll soon find that the physical benefits provide more mental clarity and better health. I am sure if you venture to the Champion Lakes area it will almost guarantee that you will return again and again to learn more about this special place that is home to such immense beauty and enticing wildlife. You will learn not only about this spectacular outdoor environment, but also a great deal about yourself and the meaning of taking the time to simply breathe the fresh mountain air. Doing so is great for reducing stress and providing immense health benefits. Randy McCallum writes a bi-weekly column on hiking in Trail. For hiking tips, area photos and guides, visit www.wkunplugged.com