Mount Robson and the Berg Lake Trail is said to be one of the top backpacking trips in the country. Which in turn means that it also see more visitors than most other trails in the Canadian Rockies. It starts out a nice easy walk through temperate rainforest along the shore of a lake and then a easy climb takes you up into the Valley of a Thousand Falls, where we stopped for lunch. We had set a painfully slow pace on this first part of the hike, which turned out to be a bit of a mistake as a thunderstorm rolled in shortly after lunch and we ended up slugging our way up switchbacks in the pouring rain. Not only did this make for a long afternoon we missed out on some seriously beautiful scenery and opted not to make the side trip to Emperor Falls because of it. Overall the hike was a relatively easy one with a couple of good climbs but nothing too intense and some absolutely amazing scenery. The valley was pretty spectacular despite it being fairly dry time of year (there was not quite a thousand falls). I got a real kick out of the river on the opposite side of the valley running along the the top of a massive cliff, somehow it just seemed unnatural to see river running along that high above the ground.
We camped out at Emperor Campground which was alright, but the trail runs right through the middle of the camp so there was a fair bit of coming and going, and there is basically nothing there but a place to set up tents.
If I was to do it again I would choose to continue on further to one of the other sites. As we found out the next day continuing on to the lake is a easy walk with absolutely no change in elevation, and there is a lot more to see and do further on.
With two glaciers, one of the more impressive mountains you’ll ever see, and of course Berg Lake with actual icebergs floating around (and the sound of them calving off the glacier) was pretty spectacular, despite the cloudy rainy conditions. There is also a handful of other hikes and trails in the area. Which unfortunately we didn’t have time to do next time we’ll have to plan on a few more days to explore the area, and do a bit more research into all the trails before hand. After passing Berg lake, we continued on crossing back into Alberta to Adolphus Lake where we spent some time relaxing on the shore.
The weather finally cleared up in time for our hike out, and we made much better time, and were able to enjoy a bit more of the scenery. While it was a fantastic trip I can’t help but feel between the overcast rainy weather and the lack of time that we only caught a glimpse of all there is to see and do in the area, and I will jump at the chance to go back and do it again.
[map style=”width: auto; height:400px; margin:20px 0px 20px 0px; border: 1px solid black;” gpx=”http://photoboom.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/063014 – Berg Lake Trail – Full Trip.gpx”]
I got a really good deal on a week long stay at a place by the Fairmont Hotsprings and headed out for some R&R. I spent the whole day driving out, through Kananaskis and Banff and Kootenay National Parks, stopping first at Gap lake to watch a variety of small songbirds. The weather was beautiful and I had great time exploring the shorelines at various points along the Bow and Kootenay rivers.
Once I got to Fairmont the weather turned rainy and overcast for the next few days, and I spent a lot of time relaxing around the hotel. That’s not to say I didn’t do much, I did a whole lot of driving all over the area. I explored the forestry roads in search of White Swan Lake. Photographed Colombia Lake at sunset. Drove a dirt track on the south side of the river valley halfway to Golden (and then continued on the rest of the way on the highway). Went hiking down to a old gold miners camp along a small creek. Walked around Canal flats where an old canal had been dug between Columbia Lake and the river which is in a different watershed.
I had really been hopeful that I would see some wildlife, but it was a bit of a letdown. The marshes and ponds were strangely devoid of waterfowl (despite it being the annual bird festival in the area). I did spot a black bear about 2 kilometres from the hotel after driving all the way to Golden and back without seeing anything. I had on my wide lens and after it crossed the road in front of my car I watched it from a stand up and scratch its back on a telephone pole while I was fumbling around with my camera, and of course it was gone by the time I got my long lens on.
I spent a lot of time driving up and down some sketchy forestry roads, but apart from a couple of deer and a huge flock of Coots in one of the mountain lakes it was entirely unproductive.
The highlight was an afternoon spent in the reed beds near Canal Flats, which was full of of Great Blue Herons. The light was pretty crappy so I was excited to go back the next day, but the Heron’s were mostly all gone.
As far as photography goes the way there and back again through Banff and Kananaskis was likely more productive than all the time I spent in BC, but I read an entire book about Coastal Wolves and spent more than a few hours in the jacuzzi tub. So I guess it was a successful trip.
I went out to Banff for my annual February weekend at the timeshare. The weather was icy cold, despite the beautiful clear blue skies. We did a lot of driving around looking for wildlife. The first night there I spotted a bunch of Elk up on tunnel mountain drive and nearly died of hypothermia (ok not really) trying to photograph them. The light was on it’s way out so I had to get out of the car to use my tripod, although I think my shivering negated most of its effects. The next day we spotted a coyote walking down the railroad track off to the side of the Bow Valley Parkway. We made the usual stops at Vermilion Lakes and Castle Mountain. But it was too cold to really do a whole lot and we spent more time in the hot tub and lounging around the hotel than we did out taking pictures.
After our hike at Wilcox Pass we continued on our way up to the town of Jasper and then turned west on to the Yellowhead highway making the obligatory stop at the Mount Robson Visitor Centre for some photos and were lucky enough to find the mountain in plain view and not shrouded in clouds (as is the usual case). Continuing on west for a few kilometres we made it to the Mount Robson lodge where we had a cabin booked for the weekend.
The “lodge” consists of a bunch of little cabins off the side of the highway with a campground further down along the rivers edge. I would highly recomend the place, the cabins are small and a bit on the old run down side, and a little bit too close to the highway for my liking. But the area is really beautiful, and with just a short walk you’re down at the rivers edge right in the shadow of Mount Robson.
I don’t really remember the chronological order ot the weekend, but it was a great and relaxing weekend with family and friends.
We took long evening walk down around the campground and river at the lodge. Spent a fair bit of time on the back deck just enjoying the great views of Mount Robson. We had a crock pot going all day, and feasted on pulled pork sandwiches and coleslaw. We spent a night relaxing around the firepit, eating s’mores. We drove down to Valemont for groceries and a walk around the visitor centre and fish spawning park.
We visited the viewing platform of Reargard Falls, a picturesque waterfall that is named for the fact that it’s the farthest point in the river that spawning salmon make on their journey upstream from the ocean (I’ll have to go back someday during spawning season).
We stopped at Overland Falls, which is only a couple of minutes from the road, but then decided to take a walk down a small trail that follows along the top of the river canyon through the dense temperate cedar forest. It was meant as just a bit of a walk, but it was a beautiful day for hiking, cool and damp with the occasional sprinkle of rain which the forest provided more than enough shelter for. So we just kept hiking, enjoying the day until the trail finally ended on a side road that we had driven down earlier in the day and turned back to retrace our steps. Turns out by the time we got back we had done about six kilometres, so I guess it can be called a hike.
We headed down to the river for some late afternoon fishing and a beautiful sunset. Where I caught a nice sized trout on one of those perfect casts where you just know a fish is going to take the fly as soon as it hits the water. We laughed at Tiffany who had to go wading into the river to retrieve the handle of my spin fishing reel that she sent sailing into the water.
[map style=”width: auto; height:400px; margin:20px 0px 20px 0px; border: 1px solid black;” gpx=”http://photoboom.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/09-22-13 – Rearguard Falls (I think).gpx”]
In the last week or so of June 2013 Calgary had its worst flood in well…. ever… with both rivers spilling over their banks and flowing through much of downtown. But you probably know all this so that’s about all I’m gonna say about it (here’s some more info if you don’t know all about it… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Alberta_floods).
Anyway things were pretty crazy in town, but in all reality it didn’t affect me in the least little bit, in fact I never even saw any of the flood water or river until about a week after it had crested. But as soon as the roads began reopen in Kananaskis country I knew I had to head out to have a look at the damage.
The damage was pretty crazy to see… tiny little streams had cut 20 foot chasms into hillsides and stripped shorelines of trees and plants and soil in huge swaths and ripping roads and bridges right off their foundations. What was really amazing was to see just how much earth the water had moved, roadside ditches that had been 10 feet deep were now filled to road level with dirty or gravel, and whole hillside that used to overlook the iver were simply not there anymore. At one point on the Spray Lakes trail I got out to take a walk along the stream that runs parallel to the road. The first thing I noticed was how wide the stream-bed was, it had probably only been about 10 feet across before the flood, but was now more like 40 or 50 feet across, with the bank on the other side made up of a wall of freshly exposed soil. But what really got me was the smell. The smell of pine coming from the hundreds or thousands of twisted, broken, and downed pine trees that lined the sides of the shore was so strong it literally made my eyes water and burned my sinuses, it was really quite remarkable.
Looking back (yes it’s almost a year later that I’m writing this), whats really crazy to think about is just how long the scars of that flood will be present, the debris and sticks and branches and mud stuck ten feet high in the trees will likely take a good 5 years to be dislodge and washed completely away. The piles of broken and downed trees might be recognizable for a decade or two or three. The changed in the course of the rivers and streams, and the deposits of gravel and dirt and boulders might take a few decades to become healed to the point where they no longer look like a visible scar on the landscape, but in all reality they might be there for a few centuries or longer, or basically forever, at least until the next big flood. Or until we decide to pave over them and put in a new parking lot.
(Pictures are in reverse orders… and it’s far to much of a hassle to rearrange them)
I took a trip down across the border to Glacier National Park in Montana to go camping for the weekend. My original plan was to stay at Many Glaciers, but after a three hour wait at the border, by the time I got there the only site still available backed onto the parking lot for a hotel or grocery store or something like that, so I decided to continued on to glacier. After driving over Logan’s Pass I ended up at Avalanche Campground which turned out to be a really neat area. The campground is in a area of rainforest right next to a grove of large cedars with a boardwalk hiking trail where I spent my first evening wandering around the river and forest (see map below).
I got up stupidly early the next morning and drove back up to the top of the pass in hopes of shooting some pictures. As beautiful as Going to the Sun road is it’s not very photogenic from the road, especially in the early morning when sun hasn’t made it up above the mountains and half the range is still in shadow. I almost hit a Mountain Goat with my car coming around one of the really tight corners near the top of the pass, and was able to snap a picture of it on the way day but with its winter fur still being shed it wasn’t a very pretty one.
After failing to get any good pictures up on the pass I thought I would try going the other direction. I ended up doing a lot of driving allover the place following the river out of the park and doing my best to get lost on some terrible gravel roads. I had been told by someone that there was a lot of wildlife in the park, which was my main reason for going down there, but other than the goat on the pass and a Snowshoe Hare in a parking lot I didn’t see a single thing.
Eventually I made it back to camp and feeling a bit defeated decided I had enough driving for the day. The campground I was staying at was also the trailhead for a hike to Avalanche Lake so I thought I would give it a try.
The hike up to the lake was a really nice change from all of the time I had spent in the car over the last couple of days.
The hike is a basic forest trail climbing steadily over the 4 kilometres and gaining about 200 metres in elevation to the mountain lake. The lake was quite beautiful and I was really wishing I had my fishing rod with me as the fish were jumping and surface feeding all over the lake. I didn’t get to stay at the lake nearly as long as I would have liked, but it was evening when I started, and completely dark by the time I got back.
On the way back I decided to go through Waterton in hopes of seeing some wildlife. I was not disappointed. Within a kilometre or two of crossing the border back into Canada I spotted a moose but didn’t have time to grab my camera, a couple kilometres after that a grizzly crossed the road in front of me, but was gone by the time I got there.
A bit further on I caught something moving out of the corner of my eye and pulled over to have a look. I spent a good ten minutes sitting in my car catching occasional glimpses of movement before I finally figured out what I was seeing. It was huge funny looking bird out in the tall grass, my first Sandhill Crane. Once I figured out it wasn’t a bear I climbed out of the car and went stalking through the grass and bushes to try and get a picture of it. It turned out there was actually two of them, and they move fast, seaming to disappear completely in one place and popping up in another a few moments later. I only manage to get one or two clear shots, but the sighting was enough to make me feel better about the previous lack of wildlife.
Once in the main part of Waterton I drove the Red Rock Canyon Parkway and spent ten minutes watching a cinnamon coloured black bear at a distance, then checked the flats looking for Elk but didn’t spot any. Leaving Waterton I opted for the slower route home through Glenwood so that I could make a quick stop at the windmill farms.
Hike to Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana
Distance – Return (with some walking along the lakeshore) – 8.1 km
Elevation Gain – 227 metres
[map style=”width: auto; height:400px; margin:20px 0px 20px 0px; border: 1px solid black;” gpx=”http://photoboom.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/062913 – Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana.gpx”]
Rainforest Boardwalk, Glacier National Park, Montana
I wanted to try some fishing down on the Bow River south of Carburn Park near Douglasdale and the Deerfoot Bridge. It was a beautiful day to be out on the river, and although the fish weren’t biting at all I had a run-in with a porcupine on the way back, although the light was pretty much gone I was able to get a few shots in, and get close enough to use my flash.
I’ve been taking the Spring Birding Course put on by the Friends of Fish Creek Society (http://friendsoffishcreek.org/programs/birding-course/), which is basically a weekly guided tour through Fish Creek and some of the other parks in the city. Despite the fact that it seems to snow or rain every Monday morning, and I’m a good three decades younger than everyone else, it’s been both interesting and educational.
On this particular morning we headed down to Carburn Park, which I was particularly excited about as it’s a place I visit frequently and was curious to see what we would find there with a guide.
To my surprise though we never went into the park, but instead headed downstream, and followed along the river towards Douglasdale, and the Deerfoot Trail bridge.
It was a good morning for a walk, and the birds where out in full force, Osprey and swans and geese passing overhead. I saw my first Red-necked Grebe but only got a quick shot off before it dove under the water and disappeared downstream.
The highlight of the day was a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers, that popped up from behind a fallen log and scared me half to death. The Pileated Woodpecker is the one that the character Woody Woodpecker is based on, with it’s bright red crown it’s easily recognizable. I had never before seen one of them, and was really surprised to see them, as I didn’t think they came this far north, but apparently I was wrong. What really impressed me about them is how large of a bird they are, easily the size of a magpie, if not a crow.
The weather was finally starting to warm up a little, so I headed down to Carburn park to try my hand at some spring fishing, and test out my new 500mm lens. The fishing was entirely uneventful, so I spent most of the time chasing birds around the shoreline.
Every year I get to spend a couple days in Banff during the last week of February. This year I spent most of it in driving up and down the Parkway, and south on the #93 all the way to Radium and back in search of wildlife, and didn’t see so much as a single deer. To make matters worse the weather was cold and dark and cloudy and entirely un-photogenic. I did a short hike along the shore of lake Minnewanka (to the caynon bridge and back), and spent some time playing around on the cracked ice and rocky outcroppings and of the lake. On the last day the weather finally did clear up just before sunset, and I had just enough time to race down to Vermillion lakes to snap a few pictures.
I took a sunrise drive out to the mountains, heading first up the Bow Valley Parkway, and then up to the Icefields Parkway (#93) all the way to Saskatchewan River Crossing with an hour detour down the David Thompson Highway (#11).
The morning started out fantastic, if a little chilly, with great morning light on Castle Mountain, and a nice shiny layer of frost on the grass.
Unfortunately it didn’t last long and by the time I got to the Icefields Parkway it had turned cloudy and overcast and by Bow Lake the roads were shear ice, and there was a few feet of snow in the ditches. Once I headed down from the summit, the roadsides cleared up and I was able to do a bit of walking around. The mountains are not very scenic this time of year with a lot of dead grass and old dirty snow, but sometimes you just have to make due with what you’ve got (in this case it meant a lot of bracketing and HDR in post, to bring out what little colour and detail there was).
Eventually I headed east on the David Thompson Highway, with the idea of going to have a look at Abraham Lake, but I had no idea how far it was to lake and it was so windy out on the Kootenay Plains that I gave up and headed back before I made it there.
This was the first time I had ever driven east on the D.T.H. and I have to say the view of the long straight road leading directly into the distant mountain was pretty impressive.
I spent a fair bit of time wandering around in the mud by the river (below the bridge) at Saskatchewan River Crossing. There is some pretty nice scenery there, but again, everything looks pretty bleak this time of year. I will definitely have to find some time to spend there when the grass is green and the wild-flowers are blooming.
The drive back was a bit touchy with a about a foot of fresh unploughed snow (slush) that had come down at the summit since I had passed by earlier, but at least the ice that was there in the morning had melted.
As far as wildlife goes the day was a complete bust. On the way back I spotted an absolutely massive Elk on the Bow Valley Parkway, but it was gone into the trees by the time I stopped the car, that was the only living creature I saw all day. I did follow some really fresh wolf tracks for a little ways, until I broke through the ice and ended up ankle deep in mud (I think the wolf was following a weasel or something of that sort, whatever it was I didn’t recognize the tracks).
Bow Valley Provincial Park is a lot bigger than I expected. I’ve driven past the entrance a few hundred times, and did stop in once but only made it as far as the parking lot and information centre before the sun went down. So I think I assumed that was all there was to the park. There is actually a fair bit of road to explore, and a great little picnic area on the shore of the Bow river with a fantastic view of Mount John Laurie (Yamnuska). Which I will most definitely be revisiting with my fly rod come next spring.
I didn’t spend nearly as much time as I could have in Bow Valley because my plan was to drive the Banff Parkway and look for wildlife. Unfortunately once I got into the National Park the weather turned a bit nasty, and after a few hundred kilometres of driving the only animal encounter I had was with a massive bull Elk at the Johnson’s Canyon Parking lot. Which turned out pretty good despite the mob of cell phone tourist chasing the poor thing around.
Other than the Elk there wasn’t much going on for photography, although the sky did clear up a little, and turned into a spectacular sunset. Which I pretty much missed (I had the spot I wanted to photograph, but didn’t make it back there until it was mostly over). I did shoot a few pictures, but wasn’t really happy with the results, I tried to salvage them in post by converting to HDR’s but still couldn’t get the result I wanted.
I had to go down south on Highway #22 to an area called Willow Valley for work, and took my camera with me, with the plan to shoot some autumn farm scenery.
It turned out to be a beautiful day, but like usual, I never seem to be able to find a decent spot to stop on Highway #22. I did manage to take a few pictures, and stopped for a bit of a walk around the Old Man River. Other than that it wasn’t a very exciting day, but considering I was down there for work, I can’t really complain.
By the time I made it down to Waterton I was in desperate need of some breakfast (the A&W in Alderside doesn’t open until five in the morning, I missed the one in Claresholm, and my route never took me into Fort Macleod). So unfortunately I was stuck wasting my time sitting down to possibly the worst $20 breakfast I’ve ever eaten in my life.
After breakfast I headed to Cameron Lake to shoot some pictures, while the lake was nice, (apart from the tour bus full of people walking into all my shots), the drive there was a bit of let down with very few places to stop for photos, and poor scenery at the places you could stop. After that I headed up the Red Rock Canyon Parkway, which was pretty great the whole way up to the canyon (although the open meadows where looking pretty dry and brown and windblown). I did a little bit of hiking around the canyon and shot some long exposures of the river (not very long, because I left my ND filter in the car and didn’t want to go back and get it, but long enough to get some motion blur).
I tried shooting some more pictures around the park, but the weather was getting increasingly worse, and by the time I headed down to the lake it was so windy at the hotel that I could hardly open the car door, and almost got blown off the hilltop. To make things worse there were foot high white-caps on the lake, and it was so hazy I couldn’t even see the mountains on the far side.
I had wanted to go for a short hike, but it was just too windy (and I was getting pretty tired), so I just ended up driving all over in and around the park, making it all the way down to the US border, but had little success.
Eventually I decided that It probably wasn’t worth staying the night because the weather forecast wasn’t looking very good, and the weekend crowds were flooding into the park (when I left through gates there was 30 or 40 cars lined up to get in the park). Waterton is not very big, and you could probably drive down every road in the park in little more than an hour, so I figured that by Saturday morning it would be way to crowded for my liking.
By the time I got home I had pretty much been in the car for 16 hours straight (except for maybe an hour spent at the canyon) which made for a pretty painful drive home, but all and all it was a pretty great day!
I had to go out to Banff for work to do a delivery to a production company that was filming a movie out there, so I figured that I might as well bring my camera and make an afternoon of it.
And…. It was pretty much a waste of time……..!
I headed up the parkway, shot a couple bad photos at all the usual spots, and finally made it up to Moraine Lake (after years of failed attempts). But by the time I got there it was pretty much dark, a storm was rolling in, and the light and clouds were total garbage, so I climbed up the ‘Rock Pile’ took a few bad photos, and headed back.
Note to self (and any other photographers)…..
If you want to take pictures of Moraine Lake you need to go at sunrise in the early spring so that the sun is in position to give the view the light it deserves. Sunset in the fall is pretty much just a waste of time.
The pictures really were garbage, so I did what any self respecting photographer would do… Made them into HDR’s, and edited the $#!% out of them.
I was going through some photos from last year noticed this view of Haig glacier, (I had no idea what glacier it was when I took the photo). So I thought I’d post this just to show a little perspective of the our backpacking trip (obviously the path is not very accurate).
**click on the image a couple of times to get to the full view.
(I have no Idea why this image is showing up on top of the screen!!)
After the morning hike up to Haig Glacier we came back to camp for a nice relaxing lunch, and by relaxing what I really mean is walking in circles around the table with food in hand trying to get a mouthful of soup with as few mosquitoes in it as possible.
Hot, tired, and full, we retreated to the tent to escape the bugs for a well deserved siesta, which lasted all of two minutes because it was so swelteringly hot inside we literally couldn’t breath.
After that we decided that we might as well do some more hiking because the mosquitoes are far less of a bother when you’re moving. We had been told by some other campers who had been up to Maude lake the day before that there was lots of fish jumping, so we loaded up the fishing gear and headed upstream to find the lake.
We were told it was a an easy 15 minute hike to the lake, but in the heat of the day it seemed a lot longer and harder than it should have been. The lake is only 1.53 kilometres from camp, with about 145 metres of elevation gain, so an easy walk, but we were pretty exhausted and sun-stroked, so it took us more like 25-30 minutes.
The hike takes you through thick forest, and crosses an open flood or avalanche path, with great views of Beatty Glacier before climbing up towards the lake. Although tiny in comparison to the Haig, from here Beatty Glacier looks big and beautiful and imposing like a glacier should (I think you can see all of it, whereas the view we had of Haig Glacier was probably less than five per cent of the total ice-field).
The lake itself was probably one of the most scenic I’ve ever seen, it sits in a large open area between mountains on a kind of a step, so that just past the shore on the one side the ground drops off in to the valley below, so you can look across the lake and see sky and distant peaks just above the waterline.
The first thing we did when we got to the lake was to jump in, fully clothed in my case. I really can’t explain how unbelievably great it felt to jump in the cool water and wash off two days worth of sweat and sunscreen and bug-spray. The water was surprisingly warm for such a high altitude lake. Being up above (or right at) the tree line there was a bit of a wind to help cool us down and keep the mosquitoes away, which was an incredible relief.
After swimming we walked around to the other side of the lake, and couldn’t resist climbing the small hill to see what was on the other side, I’m really glad we did, because up at the top of the ridge (it was actually the low point of a pass between two mountains), we found a sign and a line of rocks that was the provincial boundary with the most incredible view on the B.C. side (the pictures don’t do justice to the awesome expanse of the mountain range).
I later learned that after crossing over the boundary we had entered ‘Heights of the Rockies’ Provincial Park. Which I had found out about earlier in the year and wanted to visit, until I learned that its a completely non-motorized park, meaning there is absolutely no car access and no boats, planes, or helicopters permitted. So the only way to visit is on foot or horseback. So I had pretty much given up on it at the time. Now I can say I’ve been to the park (if only about 20 feet into it).
After that we did some fishing, which turned out pretty great, with a couple of surprisingly big cut-throat trout, for such a high altitude lake. While we were fishing we spotted a mother and calf moose cross through the opening on the far side of the lake and stop for a drink of water, which is always nice to see.
Overall a phenomenal afternoon, that made the entire trip worthwhile, and left me wishing I had a couple more days to spend there.
Name: Turbine Canyon Campground to Maude Lake
Activity type: hiking
Description: Aug. 5, 2012 Hiking with Chris and Brandon from Turbine Canyon campground to Maude lake.
Total distance: 1.53 km (0.9 mi)
Total time: 30:16
Moving time: 19:54
Average speed: 3.03 km/h (1.9 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 4.60 km/h (2.9 mi/h)
Max speed: 12.79 km/h (7.9 mi/h)
Average pace: 19.82 min/km (31.9 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 13.04 min/km (21.0 min/mi)
Fastest pace: 4.69 min/km (7.5 min/mi)
Max elevation: 2334 m (7657 ft)
Min elevation: 2190 m (7186 ft)
Elevation gain: 318 m (1043 ft)
Max grade: 0 %
Min grade: 0 %
Recorded: 8/5/2012 13:53
Distance – Turbine Canyon to First View of Haig Glacier – 1.55 km
Elevation Gain to first viewpoint – 209 metres
We wanted to do a couple of short hikes on the second day of our camping trip to Turbine Canyon. After talking to some other campers we decided we would start out the day with a trip up to have a look at Haig Glacier and the Beckie Scott Centre for High Altitude Training.
We made a quick stop to check out Turbine Canyon, which was actually very impressive, and a whole lot deeper than I expected, so deep and straight down in fact that you could hardly see the bottom.
After the canyon the trail heads up into the forest at a stead climb for about a kilometre (yeah… more uphill) before coming out into a open rocky area with magnificent views of Lawson Lake and Mount Beatty behind us, and Haig Glacier and the Cross-country ski training centre down and across the massive rocky valley in front of us.
It’s about there that the GPS track ends, but we actually ended up going about twice as far, hiking around on the rocks making our own trail towards the glacier. Chris made it all the way to the glacier, while Karl and I stopped about ten minutes short to enjoy the views and the cool breeze coming off the mountain.
The view of the glacier really wasn’t very exciting (they never are), as you could only see the very edge of it (have a look at the satellite view to get a full appreciation of its size).
It was kind of neat to see the Beckie Scott Centre for High Altitude Training, which consists of three big buildings and a heli-pad out in the middle of nowhere, although none of us really had a clue what they do there. While looking for the name of it I came across an article by someone who has trained there… it’s worth a quick read (at least the first bit of it). (http://www.canmoreleader.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true&e=1697241).
We had a lot of fun climbing around on the rocks forging our own path, and the views were pretty stunning. But the best part of the hike was that between the barren surroundings, the high altitude, and the light breeze there was finally no mosquitoes to bother us.
The map shows the hike to the Glacier, as well as the afternoon hike to Maude Lake, and the hike in to Turbine Canyon Campground.
Activity type: hiking
Description: Aug. 5, 2012 Hiking with Chris and Brandon from Turbine Canyon campground to Haig glacier.
Total distance: 1.55 km (1.0 mi)
Total time: 52:35
Moving time: 22:39
Average speed: 1.76 km/h (1.1 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 4.10 km/h (2.5 mi/h)
Max speed: 9.02 km/h (5.6 mi/h)
Average pace: 34.02 min/km (54.7 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 14.65 min/km (23.6 min/mi)
Fastest pace: 6.65 min/km (10.7 min/mi)
Max elevation: 2366 m (7761 ft)
Min elevation: 2157 m (7076 ft)
Elevation gain: 529 m (1735 ft)
Max grade: 0 %
Min grade: 0 %
Recorded: 8/5/2012 09:38
Like usual, we never got around to planning this years backpacking trip until a couple of days before we decided to go. The great thing about procrastinating is that we didn’t really have much choice where to go (I think we literally got the last open back-country site in all of Kananaskis Country). Because of this we ended up at the Turbine Canyon Backcountry campsite, which none of us had ever heard of before, and probably given the choice would never have chosen to go to. Looking at the details of the hike I was a bit hesitant, it was longer and had more of a climb in elevation that I was sure I would be up to, especially considering I hadn’t done any real hiking yet this summer.
The trail to the campground start out at the interlakes parking lot on the north side of Upper Kananaskis Lake. We headed west on the lake shore trail through the forest, taking the high road when the trail forks (if you take the low trail you’ll have to backtrack when the two meet back up to get to the trail that heads up the valley and away from the lake). I’ve done this portion of the hike on multiple occasions and while a nice hike through the forest with some great views of the lake, it can get pretty busy in the summer.
After leaving the lake trail, the path heads up the valley staying mostly flat and forested, crossing over a couple of bridges and waterfalls, along the base of a field of scree, then follows along the path of the river. Eventually the forest opens up a little bit and crosses over three or four small bridges over some scenic streams, and into the Forks campground (about 6.7 km from the parking lot). It was also here that the trail signs showing distance from the Forks to Turbine Canyon change from 7.3km (at the start of the hike), to 9.3km….. Thanks people! (according to the parks description its 15.1km to Turbine Campground, but we clocked it at 18.15km).
We stopped at the forks for lunch and said goodbye to a couple of friends who had joined us for a bit of a day hike. We also ran into a conservation officer who checked our reservations, and was in the process of kicking out a group of campers at the Forks who hadn’t booked a site.
After the Forks the trail starts to climb up away from the river, eventually coming out of the forest onto a open mountainside where it climbs in long switchbacks up the side of the mountain. This part was pretty slow going, out in the open with the hot sun beating down the constant uphill we pretty painful. Eventually we could see the trail climb over a ridge and back into forest and were happy to be done with the climb. But we were wrong, and the trail just kept going up in a relentless climb getting even steeper once we entered the forest.
On more than one occasion we thought we had made it to the top but were quickly proven wrong again. The trail just kept going up and up and up. There was a flat area where it crossed over a bridge and followed along a nice little stream on the edge of a meadow, and then it went up again. There was a steep open downhill through a meadow with an unnamed pond (and amazing view), and then it went up again.
By the time we made it to the shores of Lawson Lake my quads had turned from Jello to concrete and kept cramping up (looking back I think much of the fault was dehydration, as we were all out of water by this point, and probably hadn’t drank enough for such a long, hot, exhausting hike to start with). Lawson Lake was quite big and beautiful, but apparently there’s no fish in it, and we were anxious to get to camp so we didn’t stop.
We finally made it to the campground, and after a couple of litres of water from the stream that runs along the edge of the camp, where able to set up camp, eat some dinner, and relax.
And by relax I mean sit around swatting mosquitoes and horseflies…
As relentless as the uphill climb to the camp was, it paled in comparison to the constant never-ending irritation of the insects. They were there the entire weekend biting and buzzing and driving everyone at the camp crazy. We didn’t sit down for more than a couple of minutes at a time all weekend (except maybe after the sun went down when they lessened to a tolerable level). Lunches where eaten while pacing circles around the camp, and Long-Johns and hoodies and even rain gear were worn all weekend despite the fact that there were no clouds in the sky and temperatures were in the high twenties.
The hike out was nice and easy and mostly uneventful, with lighter packs and long downhill stretches, we did it in about half the time as the way in.
Between the irritation of the insects, and the lack of a fire, the camping was pretty dull, but the hiking in and out and short day trips we did made for a fantastic weekend. And I would recommend the trip to anyone, it’s well worth the effort of getting there. I’m glad our poor planning led us to find it.
Pictures are in reverse order and it really is way too much effort to reload them in the proper order.
The map shows the hike in as well as the hikes we did on Sunday up to Haig Glacier and Maude Lake.
Name: Upper Kananaskis Lake to Turbine Canyon Campground
Activity type: hiking
Description: Aug. 4, 2012 Hiking with Chris and Brandon from upper kananaskis lake to turbine canyon campground.
Total distance: 18.15 km (11.3 mi)
Total time: 6:57:48
Moving time: 3:55:33
Average speed: 2.61 km/h (1.6 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 4.62 km/h (2.9 mi/h)
Max speed: 11.12 km/h (6.9 mi/h)
Average pace: 23.02 min/km (37.0 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 12.98 min/km (20.9 min/mi)
Fastest pace: 5.40 min/km (8.7 min/mi)
Max elevation: 2263 m (7426 ft)
Min elevation: 1688 m (5538 ft)
Elevation gain: 4562 m (14969 ft)
Max grade: 5 %
Min grade: -23 %
Recorded: 8/4/2012 11:52
I had a great weekend camping with a bunch of friends down south of Calgary on the Highway 40, at a place called Cataract Creek. Originally we were planning on camping at Blue Rock on the Sheep River, but when we got there on Friday afternoon it was already filled up with campers and RV’s. We decided we should try Cataract Creek, because we had all been there last year, so everyone that was coming out later already knew where it was. We also figured that if the campground was also full we could just keep heading south until we found one that wasn’t. As it turned out, our fears were unfounded, and there was only about half a dozen people in the 100 site campground, which was great because we ended up with the best two spots in the whole place.
The weekend was pretty typical for a weekend of camping, we had a wild Thunderstorm on Friday night that frightened all the children, but by Saturday afternoon it had cleared up nicely, and by Sunday it was absolutely beautiful. We took a walk down to the creek, sat by the fire, ate too many smores, cooked hot dogs and a big pot of chili over the fire, did a bit of fishing (caught a tiny little rainbow), a bit of swimming, and came home with a nice sunburn!