Windy Joe Trail, Packed Snow & Good to Go

…but, be sure to check current conditions before heading up to Manning Park. We lucked out with a well-packed trail made by a group of 8+ snowshoers who headed up in the morning, just before us.

We spend the majority of our time planning, scheduling and anticipating the upcoming week, month, year. We’re tied to our phones, emails, and daily correspondence from our work and personal lives. It’s kinda nice when we can take a break from all the planning and foreshadowing, drive away from the concrete jungle and into a dead zone (or almost-dead zone) to anticipate nothing further than the next 20 steps over unfamiliar terrain. Aaaaaahhh… the weekend.

The awesome thing about hiking in Manning Park is the sheer number of trail options and the stunning scenery that can be accessed by hikers of any skill level. I am somewhat familiar with the area after hiking up Frosty this summer:

Ryan and I planned to snowshoe the Windy Joe trail in Manning Park. On Saturday, January 17th, we drove 2.5 hours from Vancouver to the Manning Park Resort. We turned on to Gibson Pass Rd and parked at the Similkameen trailhead. Directions were made easy with waypoints off of Clubtread.

We found a pull-out close to the trail kiosk and geared up. We spent a few minutes poking around the start of the trail to see if snowshoes were necessary. Because the trail was well packed, we decided to leave our shoes behind for a more relaxing day – excellent call, if I do say so.

As described in many forums, the first 2km along Similkameen River were flat:

First Bridge Crossing

View Along Similkameen Trail

View Along Similkameen Trail

We ran into a few people along the way; most were carrying their snowshoes on their way down. At about 2km, we reached the first junction and turned right for Windy Joe:

PCT, Frosty, Windy Joe Trail Junction

From here, the trail began to carve slightly uphill and into the forest:

Heading up the old Fire Lookout Road

The trail grade was steady with a few switchbacks. It wasn’t an intense workout, but I felt a consistent burn throughout the day.

Our next junction was for Frosty and the PCT. From this point on, I was day dreaming about a 6 month adventure from Manning Park to Mexico:

Windy Joe, Frosty, PCT Junction

Views along the trail:

Windy Joe Trail

Broken Windy Joe Trail

Windy Joe Trail

Ryan & I

A few brief views before reaching the top:

View Near the Fire Lookout

View Near the Fire Lookout

Approaching the fire lookout:

Windy Joe Fire Lookout

A look inside:

First Floor in the Fire Lookout

Second Floor, Fire Lookout

After a quick tour, we layered up and made a few snacks and hot chocolate to warm up. While we waited, the forecasted snow began to fall:

View from Inside the Fire Lookout

View from Inside the Fire Lookout

View from Inside the Fire Lookout

At this point, I was recovering from low blood sugars (See ‘Diabetes Management’ below). By the time I stabilized, we had lost most of the daylight. After packing up, we prepared for a hike back in the dark.

The hike back was very tranquil, with the rhythmic sound of snow crunching beneath our boots and the brilliant sight of snow falling before our headlamps:

Hiking Back by Headlamp

Hiking Back by Headlamp

Hiking Back by Headlamp

Snowfall by Headlamp

And of course, our end of hike selfie. I had to make sure Ryan was smiling:

Ryan & I

Stats for the day:

Google Earth Birdseye View of Route

Google Earth 3D View of Route

Elevation Profile

Total Distance: 16.2km
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 876m

Diabetes Management:

The consistent effort from the hike caused my blood sugars to trend low all day – lower than I anticipated.

I ate breakfast plus 3 shot blocks during the hike and corrected 3 units for over 160g of carbs (my normal correction ratio is 1 unit for every 10-15g).

I realized my blood sugars were very low when we approached our destination. We slowed right down as I stumbled to the lookout; Ryan quickly made some noodles and hot chocolate while I waited for the shotbloks to kick in. At this point, my blood sugar level was 3.9; not alarmingly low, but I could feel myself dropping rapidly.

One important observation here was when my sugars were low and symptoms were setting in, I had a hard time warming up. I layered up as much as possible (smart wool base layer, down sweater, down jacket), kept my feet off of the concrete ground, drank hot chocolate and sat close to the stove, and I was still struggling with the cold. With normal blood sugars, I don’t believe I would have felt as cold as I did and I don’t think I would have had as much difficulty warming up.

I’ll have to be more attentive on future winter trips, in terms of blood sugar management and the possible physiological effects of low blood sugars.

Thanks for reading!


– Ash

2 Comments on “Windy Joe Trail, Packed Snow & Good to Go

  1. Hi Ashika. I know you are an expert in Type 1 management but i’ve found an interesting article you might like. Might be useful or not but at least you could read it. I work with Type 2 at our Health Care clinic but my wife has many Type 1 clients. Here is the link:

    Another great product beside the GU energy gel and the Hammer Gel:

    Also, altitude, cold and exercise could give you a rush and make you feel low, even though you were lets say for example running 300+ mg/dL for “just in case” type of thing scenario. Take care and happy trails :),


    • Hi Vic, thanks for the links. I’ve tried just about every fuel/energy product on the market and shotbloks work best for me. As well as powerbar candies. Thanks for the insight! I know quite a few people love Gu, I find them similar to shotbloks, but shotbloks have a more accurate carb count according to my blood sugar levels. I also love dried fruit; keeps very well on longer hikes and camping trips.

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