Battle Mountain
For the last leg of our hiking 'vacation' in British Columbia, Dan Millar, Kelly Wood and I visited the Battle Mountain area in Wells Gray Provincial Park.  On 29 August 2002, we backpacked into a primitive campsite hidden in a small grove of trees near Fight Lake.  The crux of the trip may well have been driving up the rough 4x4 road to get to the Philip Lake trailhead, but doing so saved us about 500 metres in elevation gain (the Battle Creek  trailhead starts lower but avoids the rough 4x4 road).  When we reached the expansive meadows surrounding Fight Lake, we had some difficulty locating the campsite (signage is poor).  There are actually some marker sticks planted in the ground that lead you to the campsite, but these are easy to miss if you aren't looking in the right direction.  What also confounded us was the fact that the public shelter, marked as being next to the campsite in the free map handed out at the info centre, is actually hidden in the trees about 1.5 km west of the campsite.  To complicate things further, there is a private chalet , not marked on the map, which is visible on the far side of the meadows about 2 km north of the campsite.
Philip Lake
Kelly and Dan stop by Philip Lake on the way to Fight Lake.
Where's the campsite?
The Fight Lake campsite is just beyond the trees at far left.  Battle Mountain can also be seen.
After we pitched our tent, Kelly curled up with a book while Dan and I decided to go check out the private chalet thinking that it was the public shelter.  About halfway there, storm clouds began developing over the area, and rain began to fall.  Suddenly, we saw lightning flash behind us, and I began worrying about our worsening predicament.  The storm was intensifying, but with nothing close by that even resembled shelter, all we could do was keep walking toward the cabin.  When we finally got there, we were dismayed to learn that it was a private chalet and that it was locked.  While Dan and I were both cold and wet, we weren't quite desperate enough yet to break into the chalet.  We tried standing on the front porch for awhile, but it wasn't really adequate enough to shield us from the storm.  I circled around the back and found a small alcove with a raised floor and an aluminum roof.  Propane tanks were stored here, but there was plenty of room to squeeze in two inundated hikers.  We found the alcove just in time as the full force of the storm began to pound the entire area.  The rain was coming down in sheets, and hail would soon follow.  Lightning flashed all around us while the accompanying thunder underscored the ferocity of the storm.  Dan and I waited probably almost an hour before the storm abated enough for us to safely wander back out into the meadows.

On our way back to the campsite, we found the hidden public shelter.  While it was no Holiday Inn, the shelter was dry and well-stocked (with food, even).  The shelter would have provided a good place to cook meals (no tables at the campsite near the lake), but the storm left a small muddy pond in front of the doorway making access annoying if not difficult.  Furthermore, numerous piles of horse dung littered the ground surrounding the shelter; cooking and eating there would have been unsavoury.

When Dan and I returned to the campsite, we found Kelly sitting atop a pile of sleeping bags and Thermarests inside the tent.  Water had pooled on the floor of the tent, and she was struggling to keep the sleeping bags dry on her little makeshift island.  Here was the second lowest point of our entire vacation in British Columbia:  I was using my already wet wool socks to soak up the puddles inside the tent and wring them just outside the door.  What was the lowest point?  Shivering in the alcove at the height of the storm and having to listen to Dan kill time (and possibly the sanctity of music in general) by banging on the propane tanks like he was in a steel drum band.  Ouch!

By the time we got things back in order inside the tent, we were in no mood for cooking.  We basically skipped dinner that night and went straight to sleep.  Around midnight, I had to get up to use the outhouse.  Fog covered the entire area, and the moon was casting an eerie glow.  Most memorable for me though was the deafening silence--no wind, no critters, nothing.

The fog lifted just as we awoke at sunrise.  Dan put up a clothesline to dry out our wet gear, and we quickly ate breakfast before setting off to scramble up Battle Mountain.  The summit of Battle Mountain is visible from Fight Lake, but it is much farther away than it looks.  Furthermore, there is an intervening height of land, known as 52 Ridge, that must be climbed over to reach the base of Battle Mountain.  52 Ridge is actually a tuya, an ancient volcano that erupted underneath a glacier.  Interestingly, there are numerous craters on 52 Ridge; we passed a few of them and mistook them as being dry ponds.  Once we were over the crest of 52 Ridge, we picked out an easy route to the summit of Battle Mountain.  From there, we had a commanding 360° view of the surrounding landscape including the Cariboo Mountains to the north, Stevens Lakes to the east, and the eye-catching Trophy Mountains to the south.
Sigh...gotta go down before going up again!
This is Battle Mountain as viewed from 52 Ridge.  We went straight up the open grassy slope before angling right and continuing to the summit. 
Chalk up another one!
Sonny stands on the 2369-metre summit of Battle Mountain.
A great place to roam freely.
Fight Lake and the Trophy Mountains are visible to the south.
Fight Lake
Fight Lake
Is supper ready yet?
Everyone is hard at work cooking in the 'kitchen'.
After enjoying a fine day on Battle Mountain, we decided to cut our trip short and head home the following day.  Thus ended a tiring but rewarding week of hiking and exploring in British Columbia.