The Journal

Five "Off The Beaten Track" Hikes by Nathaniel Martin

As an avid hiker I’ve always come into nature with great anticipation. This Summer was no exception. Wildlife had returned to the valleys, the last bits of snow had faded away and the trails underneath were revealed. These winding ribbons of pine needles and damp earth have become my sanctuary over the years. They’ve afforded my great opportunities, bitter struggles, valued lessons and treasured moments. Here are some of my favourites.

Ross Lake

This massive reservoir was formed by the constriction of the Skagit River by Ross Dam in Washington State. When the font is full Ross Lake stretches northward into Canada dividing Manning Provincial Park and the Skagit Valley Provincial Park.

I visited Ross Lake over Canada Day Long Weekend with my girlfriend and another couple. We were able to find ourselves a secluded campsite along the water with a private beach. The weekend was spent lazing around in hammocks, kayaking, and soaking up the sunlight.


Watersprite Lake

When it comes to destinations alpine lakes are by far my favourite. So when I heard about Watersprite Lake I immediately began scouting the location, waiting for the ice to eventually thaw. It seemed to take forever due to its elevation and the shade cast by the surrounding mountains.

Once the thaw came I went for an overnight hike with my good friend Jordan. I was surprised to see quite a few people on the trail, but as the sunlight faded so did their numbers. Watersprite is absolutely stunning and well worth the trek. The BCMC began construction on an alpine hut near the lake this summer. The hut will sleep 10-15 and will be completed next summer.


This hike has been on my radar for some time. Known for it’s unrelenting pitch, the trail starts steep and stays that way. On top of the challenging verticals there aren’t really any viewpoints on the way up to Wedgemount. I did this trek solo with a full pack and it was quite demanding. As I climbed I was listening to John Krakauer’s Eiger Dreams ,an anthology of mountaineering stories, to spur me on. I was rewarded for my efforts at the top. Not only did I arrive just in time for sunset but I also had the lake completely to myself.

I’m am in every way an extrovert, but there is something to be said for solitude in a place like Wedgemount. As I sat beneath the stars, watching clouds roll in slowly over the saddles of the moonlit mountains and listening to the distant rumblings of calving ice I was overwhelmed by my smallness.

Ring Lake

After a few wrong turns and a winding forestry service road my girlfriend Emmalee and I made it to the trailhead of Ring Lake. The path starts at the Callaghan Lake campsite, a beautiful spot in its own right, which might account for the solitude we found on the trail. After meandering through the forest for sometime the route spits you out at Conflict Lake. This makes for a great pit stop before commencing the seemingly endless uphill to Ring Lake. This trek was certainly not a beginner hike, but the real challenge for us came with the unrelenting flies and mosquitos. Any time we stopped to catch our breath the cloud of insects would descend upon us. Tired, itchy and irritated we finally broke the treeline just before sunset.

We were standing at the edge of an alpine meadow, overlooking the cerulean blue of Ring Lake. The meadow was sprinkled with countless glacial streams and wild flowers blanketed its floor. The lake was far larger than I had thought. Aside from a group of three campers we had the lake to ourselves. It was truly a beautiful sight. Every challenge and obstacle the trail presented finally made sense. I’m glad that areas like Ring Lake are so remote, it helps people value the beauty of wild things.

Mt Cheam

As a photographer there is nothing worse than hiking for hours for a view, only to find yourself shrouded in clouds with nothing to photograph but a matte grey wall of fog. It seemed like that was the exact situation I was heading into as I made my way up Mt. Cheam. There were ten of us on the trail, but we were spread out into groups of two or three. The gnarly road up to the trailhead took us longer to navigate than we anticipated and there wasn’t much time to ascend before dark.

The higher I climbed the more the fog pressed in around me until I eventually gave up on getting any photos and slowed my pace. I was hiking by myself at this point when I heard one of my friends call out from further down the trail. He told me to look up and to my surprise I could see the top of a mountain poking out of the fog. On the peak of the mountain stood two of my companions waving their arms and yelling for me to run before I missed sunset. I immediately sprinted up the path, leaving the clouds behind and it wasn’t long before they were laid out underneath me like a fluffy white ocean. Cheam was most definitely my favourite hike of the season.


About The Author & Photographer: Nathaniel Atakora Martin is an adventure photographer and social ambassador based out of Vancouver, BC.  Often found exploring the rugged coastline and immense mountains of Western Canada, Nathaniel's primary aesthetic is focused on vast landscapes and how people connect and interact with them. His primary focus is in quality visual content creation and brand reach. With a large presence in the Instagram and Tumblr communities Nathaniel uses these outlets to encourage organic exposure for his clients. Some of his clients include: Langly Bags, Poler Stuff, Campbrand Goods, Instrument, Gestalten, Mercedes Benz, Axe Canada, Herschel and Oru Kayak.
Follow Nathaniel on Instagram: @nathanielatakora