After yesterday’s experience with the Terns at Carburn Park I couldn’t wait to get back there after work in hopes of shooting them some more. This time the light was perfect, and I lugged my tripod down to the river and was all ready for some serious bird photography.
Of course there wasn’t a bird to be seen.
This time I did some actual fishing, I hooked one trout that promptly leap out of the water and spat out my hook, and then another one that almost pulled my rod out of my hands before quickly snapping my line and swimming off with my hook, I guess I’ll have to start using higher test line for the Bow River, there are some big browns in there.
Once the fishing was done I packed up my camera gear and put away my lens, only to turn around and run directly into a big ugly beaver. Literally I almost ran into it, like a couple of feet away. So of course I had to pull my camera back out for a couple of shots despite the fact that it was too dark for decent shutter speeds.
I have to say it was pretty cool watching it strip the bark off a twig like it was a piece of corn on the cob. And then later as it powered through a tree trunk, saliva and wood chips flying all over the place, and then proceeded to drag the tree off into the forest.
I thought I would do some fishing, and headed down to Carburn Park after work. When I got to my fishing spot I found a bunch of Common Terns feeding on insects over the river. Despite the bad light it was a pretty cool shooting session because the I was able to sit right up close on the bank while they worked their way slowly down the river diving and skimming the surface for bugs. Once they were about twenty or thirty yards away they would fly right back up to where I was and start over again.
As I mentioned, the light was pretty crappy, and I hadn’t brought along my tripod, and the birds move pretty erratically, so getting a sharp image was not easy, but it was a lot of fun. Needless to say I didn’t do a whole lot of fishing.
It seems like every year come the end of February or early March I get the fishing bug, and suddenly can’t wait to get out on the river. Which is a shame because it’s usually a few months before the weather and the river conditions make it worthwhile.
Starting out at Carburn Park I headed south along the bank all the way down to where Deerfoot Trail crosses over the river. It’s a bit of a hike, and I had only been that way a couple of times before, but had seen both Pileated Woodpeckers and a porcupine in the past so I headed out with high hopes.
The fishing was not very interesting, all of the fishing holes that I had fished in the past had apparently been washed away in the previous years flood. The flood damage itself was likely the most interesting part of the trip. Massive piles of driftwood were stacked up twenty or thirty feet high in the middle of the forest, huge gravel bars stretching out where they didn’t used to be, and logs hung up way up in the treetops. It was somewhat surreal, and also fairly saddening.
Without any of the old fishing holes I never did find a decent place to fish, but eventually stretched out on a sandbar and threw in a line. I was quickly distracted though by a flock of a couple dozen Franklin’s Gulls that flew down and began feeding on a swarm of bugs just a short ways up the river bank.
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=”https://photoboom.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/09-22-13 – Rearguard Falls (I think).gpx”]
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.
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
One of the main reasons that we chose to go to Tofino was because we wanted to do some ocean fishing. We had booked a 6 hour half day charter through Tofino Fish Guides, (http://www.tofinofishguides.com/) to take us out on our second morning.
The guide was great, with a really nice boat, and as an added surprise he dropped off a crab trap on the way out, and by the time we headed back to town we were able to pull out a couple of Dungeness Crabs.
The morning was cold and cloudy, with nice calm water to start out, but after a while on the boat the wind picked up, and the water got pretty rough, and it started raining. Which made for a long, cold, wet, trip.
Other than that it was a fantastic morning, with all of us making our catch limit of Chinook Salmon, as well an extra Cod of some sort. Although I still think flyfishing is a lot more fun, it is pretty exciting to reel in a 20 lbs salmon from a couple hundred feet down.
Our total catch for boat was six Chinook Salmon and one Cod, equalling about 100lbs after they had been gutted (We came home with about 70lbs between the two of us). As well as the two Crabs (we caught a lot more crabs than that, but you can’t keep females or little ones, so only two of them made the cut).
After getting back to shore the guide quickly gutted the fish (feeding the guts to the resident sea lion that was hanging out at the docks). Then we took them up the dock to the packers, where they cut, vacuum sealed, flash froze, and had them ready for pick up the next morning (they also cut and steamed the crabs for us).
Overall it was a great experience and I can’t wait to go again, although it seems a bit pricey, the amount of fish we brought back easily paid for the charter, if not two or three times over. It’s just too bad I don’t really like fish. Although the high quality of the fish is pretty obvious, and it was frozen only a couple hours after catching it, so I know its sushi grade (I think I’ve eaten more raw than cooked so far).
I wanted to do some fishing before the spring run-off started so I headed out to McKinnon Flats. There was a bit of a wind, so I figured I’d use my spin rod. But when I got down to the river it soon became apearent that the wind was the least of my problems. While it had been warm lately and all the snow was pretty much gone, the ice on the riverbanks was a whole other story. As much as five feet thick in places, it made it almost impossible to even get to the rivers edge without risking falling through into the water. So I spent most of my time walking the bank looking for an opening.
I did finally find a spot where I could climb down off the ledge of ice onto a foot or so of exposed bank. And was rewarded with a solid bite, but never got it to shore (how I miss the days of barbed hooks).
I decided to get up early onmy day off and head out to the mountains at sunrise to take some pictures. As I like to do, I headed to Canmore and up onto Spray Lakes Trail (aka. Smith-Dorrien Trail), making all the usual stops along the way. The weather and the light weren’t cooperating, and there wasn’t a single animal to be seen. I soon found myself at Kananaskis Lakes feeling rather defeated with nothing worthwhile on my camera. So on a whim I parked the car, packed up my gear and hit the nearest trail I could find.
Starting from the parking lot on the southeast corner of Upper Kananaskis Lake the trail-head showed directions to Rawson Lake so I thought I’d give it a try.
The hike starts out as the Upper Lake Trail, which circles the entire lake, but at 16 km I wasn’t sure I was up to it, so after following the shoreline for 1.1 km, (and crossing a bridge over a nice little waterfall), the trail intersects with one leading uphill away from the lake while the other continues on along the shoreline.
The trail climbs steadily switch-backing back and forth through the forest and gaining about 280 metres in under 2 km before reaching the Rawson Lake. While the climb is fairly steep its a nice wide trail, and the switch-backs keep it from being too strenuous.
The lake is actually quite nice, and a lot bigger than I expected, when you first come upon it the shore is forested with a couple nice little sheltered coves, and grassy areas along the bank. Following around the side of the lake, there’s a long stretch of bank that is on the path of a old rockslide, the field of rocks climbing steeply up the mountainside, and straight down into the water that looks really deep on this side of the lake. Towards the far end of the lake the shoreline levels out again, but is covered with massive boulders, climbing over and around them was a bit tricky in spots.
From what I’ve read about the hike there is a serious avalanche hazard around the side and back of the lake during winter and spring, (this hike is also very popular place for snowshoeing). The lake is also a grizzly bear hotspot (don’t forget your Bearspray), and one person I talked to while there said that Mountain Goats can usually be seen up towards the ridgeline. Of course I saw nothing at all on this trip.
There was quite a few people out fishing on the lake, including one in an inflatable tube, and a group spin-casting in the deep water at the slide that looked to be having a lot of success. I only fly-fished for about 20 minutes (after the ridgeline) and still manage to catch a nice little cutthroat trout before the wind picked up and made the surface so choppy that the fish went deep and I went home.
Mount Sarrail Ridgeline
2.4 Kilometres Return (from the north end of the lake)
380 Metres Elevation Gain
While I was relaxing on the lake shore a couple of elderly hikers stopped and talked for a bit (why is it always old people that I see out hiking). The gentleman told me about the hike up to the ridgeline and said that the view was pretty spectacular and worth the climb.
Looking at the trail from across the lake I was a little doubtful, and by the time I got to the base of the “hill” (I use that term loosely), it was evident just how steep and difficult of a climb it was going to be.
I was a bit nervous about doing the climb alone because it did look so steep I figured it wouldn’t take much of a slip to send me rolling down the mountain. But there was a couple other guys about my age heading up there so ended up tagging along with them. At least about a third of the way, until they whimped out and headed back down, that was before it got really steep, and neither of them had 30lbs of camera gear on their backs. But thanks anyway guys!
The trail up to the ridge starts out on the Northwest corner of lake, beginning to climb gradually up a dry streambed. It’s not too steep at this point, but the hiking up the bare rocks is pretty rough of on the ankles, eventually the trail moves out and alongside the stream making the hiking a fair bit easier. After that the trail pretty much just goes straight up. There is a bit of a rocky outcropping at one point somewhere near the middle of the climb that was overgrown with junipers and I literally had to pull myself up and over the rocks by hanging off the tree branches. After that the hillside is totally open grassland with nothing to stare at but the trail in front of you. To say it’s steep is a bit of an understatement, I spent half the time with my hands on the ground because the hillside was too steep to stand up.
By the time I was three quarters of the way up the slope I was stopping to take a break between just about every step. I think I almost cried when the top of the ridge finally came into view (and then it took another 20 minutes to get there).
The climb from the edge of the lake is just over 1 kilometre in distance, with almost 400 metres in elevation. My GPS recorded the maximum grade at 68% (just think about that for a minute)! I think it took me about an hour to climb the 1 km to the top.
The view over the other side of the ridgeline is pretty amazing, looking over both the Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes, and what must be half the mountains in Kananskis. The view of Rawson Lake is pretty nice too, but really nothing compare to the other direction.
While I was on top the older couple I had talked to at the lake came up behind me. He say “now I remember why it’s been fifteen F#$%ing years since I was up here last”! and they both sat down and didn’t say a thing for about five minutes. That pretty much sums up the hike. After they had recovered, he was pointing out and naming all the mountains lakes and glaciers of in the distence, it was pretty impressive.
As hard as the way up was, the climb down was almost worse, the incline was so steep that I couldn’t get any y traction on my feet, and must have ended up my butt a dozen times. And that was where I thought I could walk down, in other places it was obvious that the only way was too sit down and slide.
As painful as the trek was I’ll probably do it again, because it really was so rewarding at the top, and I’d like to see the view on a clearer day.
Total Distance: 4.53 km (2.8 mi)
Total Time: 1:18:11
Moving Time: 40:39
Average Speed: 3.48 km/h (2.2 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 6.69 km/h (4.2 mi/h)
Max Speed: 24.57 km/h (15.3 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 1697 m (5568 ft)
Max Elevation: 1992 m (6534 ft)
Elevation Gain: 299 m (980 ft)
Max Grade: 0 %
Min Grade: 0 %
Recorded: Fri Sep 23 16:08:55 MDT 2011
Activity type: Hiking
Total Distance: 3.09 km (1.9 mi)
Total Time: 1:32:44
Moving Time: 33:55
Average Speed: 2.00 km/h (1.2 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 5.47 km/h (3.4 mi/h)
Max Speed: 13.71 km/h (8.5 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 1968 m (6456 ft)
Max Elevation: 2348 m (7704 ft)
Elevation Gain: 115 m (378 ft)
Max Grade: 68%
Min Grade: 0 %
Recorded: Fri Sep 23 13:21:32 MDT 2011
Activity type: Hiking
If you follow this blog at all you know that I’ve tried on more than one occasion to make it up to Tombstone Lakes (the last time getting within 250 metres of the upper lake before turning back… https://photoboom.ca/wp/?paged=2). So on this occasion we were determined to make it to the lakes no matter what the conditions.
The trail starts out at the parking lot marked Elbow Lake, about 65km south on Highway #40 from the junction with Highway #1, or a few kilometres north of the Highwood Pass if you’re coming up from the south (this section of the highway is closed from Dec. 1 – June 15, so the trail is only accessible in the summer).
When we left Calgary in the morning it was a nice warm autumn day, but by the time we got to the Parking lot at Elbow lake, it was evident that winter was beginning to descend on the high altitudes. The wind was so strong and cold that we had to make a quick dash for more clothes, and luckily I had enough extra rain gear in the trunk of my car to provide Jack and I some protection from the wind.
The trail starts out steep and climbs steadily for the fist 1.5km and gaining about 120 metres in elevation until you get to Elbow Lake. Turning left at the lake the trail follows along the shoreline to the opposite end of the lake, (the righthand trail ends up in the same spot, but is narrower and less used, and passes through the middle of the backcountry campground).
Once passed the lake it crosses over a small stream (which will eventually become the Elbow River), and follows its course for about 3km through open meadow between Mount Rae to the east and Mount Elpoca to the west heading directly toward the base of Tombstone Mountain. Then gradually turning east for another 3km passing along the south face of Tombstone and the north side of Mount Rae to the Tombstone Backcountry campground.
The trail from Elbow lake to the campground is wide and flat (it’s an old logging road) with little noticeable change in elevation, although judging by the GPS data it looks like it actually looses a fair bit of altitude. The view through this section of the hike is astonishing, the wide open expanse of the boulder-strewn meadow is worth the hike just to see. You can almost picture a herd of Woolly Mammoth kicking up dust in the distance (I have no idea if they ever lived in places like that, but they would fit into the view perfectly). On the other hand, the wind blowing through the meadow was absolutely horrendous, literally blowing us off the trail at times, and making this stretch of the hike rather unenjoyable.
From the campground the trail turns north climbing in elevation along the east face of the mountain for another 2km before reaching the lower lake. The trail here was fairly strenuous, climbing in altitude, on a single track through forest that was hard to follow at times (we almost missed the start of it, and where never entirely sure we were on the right path until we reached the lake
The lakes are quite scenic, although much smaller than I remember them being. The lower one is surrounded by forest with grassy banks in a couple spots where we were able to sit back and relax in the sun for lunch. The upper one is just a short climb (about 200 metres) though a bit of a boulder field from the north shore of the lower lake. It’s tucked right up against the base of the mountain, with a flat rocky shoreline on the front, and a scree slope at the back.
We tried a bit of fishing, but the wind was so strong it was all we could do to get the hook into the water. Just as we were leaving the lower lake the wind stopped for a couple of seconds, the surface went flat, and the fish started jumping, so at least I know they are there. I read somewhere that the lake winter killed a few years ago, it’s nice to know they have recovered. I have no idea if there’s fish in the upper lake, but I think it’s probably doubtful, it looked like a pretty sterile environment.
We didn’t stay very long at the lakes, it was getting pretty late in the day, and the weather looked like it might turn nasty on us (it was snowing at the Upper Lake).
.Overall it was a good hike and fairly easy, considering how far it is (about 23 km round trip). Hopefully I can make it back some other day when the weather is a bit nicer, and get out earlier so we have time for some fishing.
We ran into a group of seniors on the way back who had been up to Piper Pass (I think that’s what it was called), they had nothing but good things too say about it, so I think I’ll have to put it on my to do list. That’s if I can find the trail, according to them the marker where the trail splits off is nothing more than a pile of rocks with a orange flag on top.
Lower tombstone lake
Created by My Tracks on Android.
Total Distance: 11.48 km (7.1 mi)
Total Time: 2:56:01
Moving Time: 2:12:50
Average Speed: 3.91 km/h (2.4 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 5.19 km/h (3.2 mi/h)
Max Speed: 12.98 km/h (8.1 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 1927 m (6323 ft)
Max Elevation: 2160 m (7087 ft)
Elevation Gain: 736 m (2414 ft)
Max Grade: 0 %
Min Grade: 0 %
Recorded: Sun Sep 18 10:38:21 MDT 2011
Activity type: trail hiking
The hike to Lillian Lake is said to be one of the most popular and busiest trails in Kananaskis Country. It is one that I had been trying to do for a while. I even planned a trip with a few friends out there earlier in the year, but when we got to the trail-head we found out that it is closed ever year in the springtime to prevent trail erosion during the spring run-off (I think it opens sometime around the beginning of July). That trip ended up taking us to the point at Upper Kananaskis Lake https://photoboom.ca/wp/?p=2488
The trail-head starts at the parking lot of the Galatea Lakes day-use area. Just off the side of Highway #40 about 35 kilometres from Highway #1
The hike started out on a easy well used trail with multiple bridge crossing, but quickly turned more difficult that we had expected, looking back at the guide book it is rated as ‘moderately strenuous’ so I guess we should have expected it. With about 500 metres in elevation gain the trail is uphill for most of the way, and gets fairly steep in a few places (one particularly long, steep, leg-burning section comes to mind).
The guide book also said that it was 13km to the lake and back, but my GPS track for the day recorded 17.6km, I’m not sure which one is correct, but we all agreed (especially the two small children who were quite unhappy buy the end of it) that it felt more like that latter.
I also read one review that complained about the hike not being very scenic, which may be true as it’s mostly in thick forest with very little view of the surrounding. But personally I disagree. Following along the banks of a stream, the trail was cool and humid and thick with lush green vegetation, and flowers, and bright coloured berries (and what seemed like an abnormally large number of honey bees), which was a nice change to the dry brown prairies of early September.
The lake itself was nice, but hardly spectacular, with trees growing right up to the bank on all but one section that was probably only about 20 metres across there wasn’t really anywhere to sit back and enjoy it. This was made worse by the large number of people there that day, we literally had to squeeze in between a couple of other groups only a few feet away just to find somewhere to sit down.
After a short lunch we headed to the far end of the lake and the only open piece of shoreline to do some fishing. The fish were active and I did manage to hook at least one. We were flyfishing, and between the wind and the close proximity of the forest I think both of us spent more time unhooking snags on the bushes and trees behind us then we did with our lines in the water.
From Lillian Lake it’s another 1.5km and 190 metres elevation to Galetea Lakes. We never made it up there on this trip as we decided to do some fishing instead.
Overall it was a really nice hike, and I would do it again and probably will if only to go the little bit further up to see the Galatea Lakes. But I would definitely try to avoid doing it on a weekend.
Total Distance: 17.63 km (11.0 mi)
Total Time: 7:35:51
Moving Time: 3:12:58
Average Speed: 2.32 km/h (1.4 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 5.48 km/h (3.4 mi/h)
Max Speed: 20.52 km/h (12.8 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 1503 m (4930 ft)
Max Elevation: 2011 m (6598 ft)
Elevation Gain: 1418 m (4651 ft)
Max Grade: 0 %
Min Grade: 0 %
Recorded: Sun Sep 11 10:21:32 MDT 2011
Activity type: Hiking
Elbow Lake is my favourite place in Kananaskis Country, of course it’s just about as far from Calgary as you can go in the park. About 5km North of the Highwood Pass (the highest paved road in Canada) on Highway #40 its almost exactly at the halfway point of the Highwood Loop. The trail-head is only accessible from mid June to December, as the Highway is closed in winter to accommodate animal migration.
The Hike to the lake is a short 1.4 kilometres, but is pretty much straight up, with an elevation gain of 125 metres. I’m not sure if it’s the climb or the high altitude of the lake (2,120 m (6,960 ft). But every time I do it I’m amazed at how exhausting it is for such a short hike (of course I might just be really out of shape).
The Hike is not especially scenic, but it does cross through the path of an old rock slide where Pika and Hoary Marmots can usually be seen, and a bit of an open meadow where on this particular trip there was still about five feet of snow on the trail where an avalanche had obviously come down during the winter.
Elbow lake is the head-water for the Elbow river which eventually runs into the Glenmore Reservoir providing water to the city of Calgary, before continuing on to join up with the Bow river.
There is a back-country campground on the south side of the lake. and trails that lead north following the river (it’s barely a stream when it leaves the lake), to Tombstone Lakes, Mount Romulus, and Little Elbow Campgrounds where it comes out by “Forget Me Not Pond” at the end of Highway #66 (on the Bragg Creek side of Kananaskis).
The lake itself is surrounded with mountain peaks and is quite scenic but unfortunately because of the high altitude the weather is unpredictable and almost always windy, and summer snow storms are always a possibility.
One of the best parts about the lake is the fishing. Although the fish are extremely small, there are so many and the water so clear that sight fishing from the shore with a dry fly is a lot of fun. I heard somewhere that the lake winter-killed a few years ago, so i’m hoping that accounts to the lack of big fish, and it will change in years to come.
There’s typically a lot of grizzly bear activity in the area (not that I’ve ever encountered any). So be sure to be on the lookout, and don’t forget the bear-spray.
Hiking and fishing Elbow Lake.
I did a bit of hiking into the meadows on the north side of the lake and fished my way around the shoreline on this trip.
Total Distance: 6.62 km (4.1 mi)
Total Time: 3:39:12
Moving Time: 1:19:26
Average Speed: 1.81 km/h (1.1 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 5.00 km/h (3.1 mi/h)
Max Speed: 13.97 km/h (8.7 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 1952 m (6403 ft)
Max Elevation: 2119 m (6954 ft)
Elevation Gain: 535 m (1757 ft)
Max Grade: 0 %
Min Grade: 0 %
Recorded: Wed Jun 22 17:50:28 MDT 2011
Activity type: Hiking
Calgary to Elbow Lake via the Highwood Loop, Highway #40.
I headed out from the south side of the city, and tried to find a shortcut highway #40, and ended up at a couple dead ends and farmers fields, so it didn’t exactly work out very well. The proper way is to take Hwy. #22 all the way down to Longview and then head west into Kananaskis Country.
This Hike starts out at the north parking lot at Upper Kananaskis lake, (the one by the interlakes area), and crosses over the outflow pipe that goes straight down into the lower lake. It then follows along the north shore of the lake, to the campground on the Northwest corner.
Although I’ve done this hike to the campground a couple of times when I was younger (I canoed in once as well), this was the first time I’ve done it as a day hike without camping gear. It was a lot shorter and easier than I remembered, and made for a nice easy half day hike.
In fact I think our original plan was to just go to the lake for an afternoon of fishing, but once we got on the trail it was an easy decision to keep going to the end of the lake.
The hike itself was really nice starting out with a well used trail through the trees for a while before it split
s off and you have the option between two paths, one heading uphill along the base of the mountain, the other staying down in the trees along the shoreline. As you can see by the GPS elevation we took the highroad on the way in and the shore route on the way back out. Although there was a bit of incline on the way in it was still a really easy trail, and worth taking for the elevated views.
Somewhere around the 2 or 2 1/2 km mark the trails meet back up in the path of an old rock-slide that makes for some really interesting open terrain of giant lichen covered boulders, and small stunted plants and trees. A rainstorm passed over while we were out in the open, and it was a bit miserable hiking for a while, although it got better once we where in the shelter of the trees, and had cleared up by the time we headed down to the shoreline on the west end of the lake by the campground. Although we could see it snowing up in the mountain tops and it kept threatening to come down on us, it stayed clear long enough to stop for some lunch and an hour or two of fishing.
If you follow our GPS on the map, it shows us out in the middle of the lake, It’s not a mistake. The water level in the lake was so low that we ate our lunch in a spot where on previous trips I had been canoeing in 30 feet of water. It made for some painful walking down to the shore, as it was a lot of climbing around boulders and dead tree stumps with no trail at all.
Fishing on the lake-shore was not very good, although the water was nice and clear, there was a lot of deadwood (both underwater, and behind us on steep bank), so I think we all spent half our time trying to untangle lines, and un-snag hooks. I did get lucky and spotted a school of about a dozen fish passing along the shoreline and was able to drop a fly right on top of them and pulled out a nice sized rainbow. But other than that nobody else had any luck.
One of the highlights of the hike was the numerous avalanches happening way up in the mountains surrounding the lake. Every few minutes we could hear the echoing rumble from off in the distance, and on a couple of occasions could actually see the massive flows of ice and snow crashing down like a waterfall off the tops of the mountains.
The hike back went really fast as we were in hurry to get back, and the spring storm that had been threatening from the mountain tops all day was quickly coming down behind us. If I remember correctly it was actually snowing bythe time we got back to the parking lot.
Apperently you can follow this trail in a 15 kilometres circle all the way around lake.
I used the GPS on my phone to track the hike and as far as I can tell the results turned out pretty accurate.
Total Distance: 9.00 km (5.6 mi)
Total Time: 4:34:51
Moving Time: 1:56:43
Average Speed: 1.97 km/h (1.2 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 4.63 km/h (2.9 mi/h)
Max Speed: 14.51 km/h (9.0 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 1688 m (5538 ft)
Max Elevation: 1802 m (5912 ft)
Elevation Gain: 378 m (1241 ft)
Max Grade: 0 %
Min Grade: 0 %
Recorded: Sun Jun 12 15:18:08 MDT 2011
Activity type: trail hiking
Fish Pond on the side of Spray Lakes Trail somewhere near the trail-head to Buller Pass, I don’t actually think it has a name, but Buller Pond seems like a good one to me and from looking online I’m not the first one to call it that.
I Had an amazing evening fly fishing on this little pond, catching more fish than I could keep track of. I think my record for the night was six casts in a row with a fish on the end. Although I most of them got off the hook before I could land them, which was OK by me because I catch and release anyway so it just meant I didn’t have to get my hands wet (and on more than one occasion was able to hook more than one fish on a single cast). It wasn’t until after they stopped biting that I realized the hook I was using had the tip broken off and I might as well have been using a bent paper clip.
Unfortunately photographing live fish is a two-man job.
While fishing down on the Bow River at Mckinnon Flats I spotted a Great Blue Heron and was able to get close enough to snap a few pictures (loosing my sunglasses while crawling through shoulder high grass). The bottom picture is of Karl’s contribution to dinner for the night, I didn’t have any luck with the fish.