Crypt Lake is one of Canada’s premier hikes. There aren’t many day hikes that consist of a boat ride, shuffling through a cave, scaling a cliff holding onto a chain, and hanging by a stunning alpine lake. This is one that is on ever hikers bucket list.
Length: 12.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 3.070 ft
Good for: Intermediate to Experienced Hikers (Being in shape will help)
I hiked Crypt Trail with my cousin years ago and remembered it not being tough but not killer and so much fun. But you see, I was in my early 20s, childless, and in great shape back then. This time around it was an entirely different experience.
The beginning of the trail was in the tree line and we went up switch backs through the trees chatting as we went. I was already breathing heavily but even when I’m in shape, hikes always get me huffing and puffing.
We crossed over streams and watched as the clouds that had a 70% chance of rain slowly disapated.
Hiking is So Mental
We quickly came to the climb where we had sweeping mountain views and the trail just kept going up, up, up.
I have only ever felt this gassed before while hiking, and that was when I hiked Table Mountain six months postpartum. Hiking is very mental in addition to physical. And if you aren’t in the physical shape, you quickly start to head to a bad place mentally.
My legs did not want to move, I can’t explain it. My lungs could take more but it took so much effort to lift one foot in front of the other. There was nothing in the tank. If I wasn’t such an experienced hiker, I would have likely said this hike was beyond my physical capabilities and turned around. Yes, you read that right.
But I’ve done many hard hikes, I’ve bagged a few peaks, so I knew that I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other and try to take my mind off the discomfort and enjoy the journey.
The Best Part- The Cave
It seemed like an eternity, but my buddies were positive and waited for me to plod along, and we FINALLY made it to the most fun part of the hike- the cave!
I’m pretty claustrophobic, but this cave isn’t too bad if that’s a factor that may be preventing you from trying it out. You climb up a small steel ladder and through the tunnel to the other side. It’s very small and I had to crouch low to make it through with my pack on.
When you come out the other side, the mouth of the cave is wide and what a view!
From there, you have to pick your way along the cliff edge, holding the chain secured into the rock if you’re nervous, up to the trail.
Where’s the Trail?
This little section was a bit hard to navigate. The very clear trail split in two and both trails led to a small pond/stream. As a joke I said “Here is Crypt Lake!” It took a little walking around, but the trail switched back over a rock ledge that finally led to the lake.
I spent the last two years doing polar dips in every body of water I could. But the wind was howling, the clouds were low, and the water in Crypt Lake was beyond cold.
The trail goes all around the lake, but I asked that we skip that part as we had a long way down to go. There was still a patch of snow on the peak even though it was late August.
We didn’t stay up there as long as planned because the frigid wind made our sweat cold and we were ready to get out of the cold.
The way down from the lake is the best because you have those mountain views in front of you.
The last two miles were brutal. I had nothing left, I had eaten all my sugary snacks that gave me quick boosts, and I just wanted to get to that boat launch and sit down and never get back up. We didn’t chat much on the way down as we were all feeling tired and I joked that I was going to wait for other hikers to carry me that last stretch.
Always worth it
As hard as the day was, I certainly have no regrets about our day out. It was a great reminder that I need to prioritize my fitness so I am able to do the activity I love (hiking) with a little less effort. If you have this hike on you list, be sure to do a little training before hand and enjoy the journey!
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