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.
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For the first camping trip of the year we (Karl, Steve, Melissa, The Derkowskis, and myself) went to Little Elbow Campground (I think thats what it’s called) along the Elbow River on the Bragg Creek side of Kananaskis Country. We had planned to do this trip the previous year, but the whole area was washed out and closed due to the flooding. In order to avoid the May long weekend crowd we decided to go the next week instead so it made for a nice quiet weekend.
We took a hike west along the river for a ways and then turned and headed up hill to explore a canyon (the name of which I cannot think of right now). It was a nice little hike, although we couldn’t go very far up the canyon because of ice and water that was still left over from the winter. The most interesting part of the hike was surveying all of the damage along the river that was still evident from the previous years flood.
After the hike we met up with Rob and the boys and kicked back for some campfire chili which was a bit of a fiasco because the spice level was completely off the chart. But with a few adjustments, and a loaf of fresh made campfire baked sourdough bread to go with it, it turned out pretty darn good.
8 Kilometres Return (more like 7 if you don’t get lost and wander off in the wrong direction)
550 Metre Elevation Gain
After spending the weekend in Banff I had planned to meet up on sunday morning with some friends to go hiking at Mount Yamnuska. I was up early and decided to take a quick drive down the Bow Valley Parkway to Lake Louis in search of wildlife before meeting up with them. By the time I got to Yamnuska I was way behind schedule and could see by the cars in the parking lot that they had already headed up the trail. I figured I was probably only twenty minutes or so behind them and could likely catch up as they had children with them. But instead I ended up taking a wrong turn and ended up wandering off in the wrong direction for a while (which became rather evident when the trail ended at a barbed-wire fence).
I did finally catch up to them at the top (aka. Raven’s End, aka. the chimney, aka. the point). They had gone on a little bit further past the chimney and I was waiting there when they came back through (wondering if they had come back down and passed by me while I was on the wrong trail).
Yamnuska is basically a staple for hiking around Calgary. I think this was the fourth or fifth time I’ve been up to the chimney. But it is a really good hike with great views looking out east over the prairies. It also has the added advantage of a slightly longer hiking season than a lot of the hikes that are higher up in the mountains.
I wasn’t overly sure I was feeling up to a hike when I parked my car in front of the cement plant on the side of Highway 1A. The wind was blowing so strong it slammed my car door closed on me as I was trying to get my pack ready, which is never a good sign. But I had been promised it was an easy hike, and that there would be Poutine at the end of it so off I went.
The hike was fairly straight forward following up a dry streambed to the top where it comes out through a narrow rock-walled canyon. Which is apparently a lot of fun in the summer when you can wade in the pools and climb all over the canyon. But in October it was mostly dry and what water there was was icy cold and half frozen. Still we had fun climbing around the canyon walls trying to avoid getting wet.
One of the more interesting parts of the hike was to see not only all of the damage caused by the recent floods, but also to see what they had done to deal with future flooding. The streambed we followed up to the canyon, despite now being completely dry, had apparently flooded quite severely and they had come in with graters and earthmovers and cut a massive channel down the mountainside that could probably hold the entire flow of the Bow River.
The weather had improved quite a lot by the time we got back the cars, so after the obligatory stop in Canmore for poutine I decided to make a quick, although not very productive trip up Highway 40.
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.
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Distance – Return (Where we decided to turn around) – 8 km
Elevation Gain – 389 metres
The trailhead to Wilcox Pass is located on the side of the parkway only a few kilometres south of the Columbia Icefields visitor centre. Being a fairly easy hike its a big draw for all the tourist that visit the centre, making it one of the busiest hikes in Jasper National Park. Even on a cold day in September there was a lot of people on the trail, that and the fact that you can hear the cars on the highway below for most of the hike definitely brings down the enjoyment level, but the views of the mountains and the Icefields and the meadow make it well worth the effort.
The hike starts out climbing through a beautiful old-growth forest. Although only a moderately climb it was definitely made worse by the weight of my 500mm lens, and the fact that I had been driving for the previous four or five hours. Once out of the forest the trail opens up above the tree line with an incredible view of the Athabasca Glacier, the visitor centre, the highway, and all of the towering mountains that surround the area. Eventually the trail leads up into a massive wide open alpine plain that goes on for what looks like a couple of kilometres.
I’m not really sure where the actual trail goes or how far of a hike it’s supposed to be, there seems to be a few different descriptions online, although I did read somewhere that you can hike all the way to Tangle falls (another stopping point on the 93) but then you would need a ride back to the trailhead. On this occasion we basically just hiked up to the alpine plain and kept going until we decided to turn back.
One of the main draws to the pass is the Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep that frequent the area (hence me lugging my long, heavy lens up the mountain). We were not disappointed, and found a group of large healthy adult Big Horned Sheep feeding and drinking at a watering hole out in the open meadow. We stopped and photographed them for a quite a while (the whole time wishing I had dragged my tripod up along with the long lens) before heading back down the way we came.
Did I mention it was cold and extremely windy out in the open….
Overall a great hike, and well worth the effort, I look forward to going back when I have more time to spend exploring the area.
After my first trip to Rawson Lake back in 2011 (read my previous my more detailed post about the hike here.. https://photoboom.ca/wp/?p=3129), I’ve been wanting to go back for a number of reasons. The first of which was for the pikas. There is a huge talus field running along the south side the lake, and on my previous trip I could hear the high pitched whistles of the small rodents all over the mountain side. Although I know of a couple other places were pikas can be found (there’s a small colony on the way to Elbow Lake), but the one at Rawson Lake is far larger and more populated than most. The pikas are a small animal, and although I’ve been able to get close to some in the past, they are quite small and I was never able to get close enough with my 200 mm lens to satisfy me. So, armed with my 500 mm lens I was looking forward to getting some nice close up shots.
After lugging my heavy lens up to the lake we were not disappointed, they were literally all over place, running back and forth collecting foliage for their winter stores.
The second reason I wanted to go back there was to do some more fishing at such a beautiful mountain lake. That being said I ended up having so much fun photographing the pikas that I never really ended up doing much fishing.
I made two major mistakes on this trip up to the lake. The first was not bringing my tripod, it’s heavy and awkward, and I didn’t want to pack it the 280 metres of elevation up the mountainside to the lake. It would definitely have been worth the effort to bring it as they are fast moving little animals, and with the lake sinking into the shade of the mountain so early the extra stability in low light would have been helpful. The second mistake was to go so late in the day, Mount Sarrail towers so high and close to the west side of the lake that the sun slips behind it so early we didn’t have much time to enjoy the beautiful autumn day.
By the time we got back to the shores of Upper Kananaskis Lake, the sun was finally setting for real, and we were able to catch one of the most impressive mountain sunsets I’ve ever seen. Once again, I was left wishing I had brought my tripod.
(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
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Rainforest Boardwalk, Glacier National Park, Montana
The weekend weather forecast was looking especially nice for February so I headed out just after sunrise for a drive through the mountains (I was trying to get out there before sunrise but as usual I seem to be incapable of actually getting out of town before dawn).
It wasn’t particularly nice out when I started out on Highway 40, it was cloudy, overcast, and snowing a little, and when I spotted a moose sleeping in the ditch in front of Boundary Ranch I stopped to shoot some photos, but between the weather and the shadow of the mountain the light was sub-par to say the least.
Shortly after I left the moose though the sun broke through the clouds and lit up the western range on the opposite side of the highway, and suddenly it was a beautiful winter morning. Stopping frequently to shoot pictures I made my way down the 40 and towards Canmore on the Spray Lakes Trail. The meadow at Mount Shark was looking particularly great with a smooth covering of drifted snow and the snaking line of the creek running through it.
By the time I hit the trailhead to Chester Lake I was feeling so inspired that I decided to throw on my snowshoes and go for a bit of an impromptu hike.
Chester Lake has been at the top of my list for a long time, yet despite trying on multiple occasions (it’s closed in the spring to stop trail erosion, and has a very healthy bear population which causes frequent closures in the summer time), I have never managed to make it there.
The hike to Chester Lake starts out climbing uphill on a wide well used trail through the forest. Though not particularly difficult the trail is steep enough to get the blood pumping, after climbing steadily for about three kilometres the trail flattens out and enters into a large open meadow. The wind was blowing hard and it was snowing and quite miserable when I got to the meadow and after a quick look I almost turned around and headed back down, mistaking the snow covered meadow for the lake. But I spotted some skiers (there was a large group of them doing avalanche safety) on the other side of the opening and realized my mistake. Eventually I did make it to the lake (it’s another kilometre or so through the open mostly level meadow to the lake), but didn’t stay long as it was getting late in the day and the weather was looked like it was getting worse.
As usually happens the sky had cleared up nicely by the time I got back to my car and I figured I might as well keep the day going and headed into Banff for a few more photos and nice long soak in the hot tub.
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On my last trip up to Bow Lake I found myself standing in the parking lot looking out across a field of snow that was at least five feet deep, and it suddenly occurred to me that I needed to buy snowshoes.
After looking around a bit I found a pair on sale for half price (thank you Black Friday) at Atmosphere, and decided to put aside my prejudiced of the Forzani Group (I don’t support them because they always mis-represent sales and all sorts of other dirty selling tricks….. and surprise they did it to me again…. but despite that it was still a great deal).
Anyway, the point is I bought a pair of snowshoes, and after starring at them on the living room floor for about a month I finally had a chance to try them out.
I wanted to try and get a picture of the Three Sisters Mountains from across Gap Lake on Highway 1A, and for what may be the first time ever I actually made it out there in the dark and was ready to go as the sun broke the horizon. Of course that never actually happened, because it was cloudy and overcast and colourless, and the mountains weren’t even visible across the lake. Not only that, but it was about fifteen below zero and the wind was so strong I only lasted about ten minutes outside (it was so windy that my tripod and camera went sliding across the ice in the middle of a shot, and I had to run out onto the lake after it, thankfully I had the tripod as low as it would go, and it never fell over).
After complete failure at Gap Lake I headed through Canmore and up the Spray Lakes Trail looking for wildlife, which I found absolutely none. It was cloudy and snowy the whole way with pretty much nothing to be seen. Eventually I made it to the Burstall Lakes parking area, where I was planning to give snowshoeing a try, but before I managed to get out of the car a half dozen SUVs pulled in behind me and what seemed like a hundred people piled out with cross-country skis.
So I left….
The next stop on the road was the Sawmill Trail, and after a quick look at the trail map I figured it was a good place for a first try.
I spent a good ten minutes in the parking lot trying to figuring out how to get the snowshoes on (apparently that wasn’t long enough, because about halfway through the hike one fell off and I realised I had it completely wrong). Eventually I made it onto the trail and headed into the forest. The trail was groomed which I thought was really silly at first, because why bother with snowshoes if the trail is groomed. But then later when it (the snowshoe) fell off in mid stride and I sunk hip deep in the middle of the trail I changed my mind about that.
When I first started out I was really surprised by how easy it was, and after a few minutes hardly even noticed I was wearing snowshoes. My favourite part was running downhill off-trail in deep powder sinking and sliding a foot or two with each step, it was a lot of fun.
The hike itself was nice, but not very exciting, although I think there may have been some nice mountain views (it was snowing the whole time, and I only caught a glimpse or two of the surrounding mountains), the trail was forested the entire way, with no room to get a decent scenic photo. There’s a couple of different trail options, the distance posted is only one possible route.
Although conditions could have been a whole lot better, and the trail wasn’t anything special it was a fantastic first try with the snowshoes, and I was defiantly impressed by the experience.
***Note to self…… Wear less clothes (it may have been cold in the parking lot, but five minutes up the trail I was stripping off layers and sweating like crazy)!
As far as photography goes, it was a pretty awful day, although I blame the weather for much of it, I now know that I have a lot to learn about winter photography.
Total distance: 5.07 km (3.2 mi)
Total time: 1:38:50
Moving time: 46:59
Average speed: 3.08 km/h (1.9 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 6.48 km/h (4.0 mi/h)
Max speed: 9.00 km/h (5.6 mi/h)
Average pace: 19.49 min/km (31.4 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 9.27 min/km (14.9 min/mi)
Min pace: 6.67 min/km (10.7 min/mi)
Max elevation: 1953 m (6409 ft)
Min elevation: 1810 m (5938 ft)
Elevation gain: 208 m (682 ft)
Max grade: 0 %
Min grade: 0 %
Recorded: 16-12-2012 10:17
Activity type: – Snowshoeing
Elk Island National Park is located 35 KM east of Edmonton on the Yellowhead Highway (Hwy. #16). It is one of Canada’s smaller national parks at only 194 square kilometres, and the only completely enclosed national park.
By the time I got to the park I was pretty sick of driving, so it was really nice to get to the slow and relaxing pace of the Elk Island Parkway.
Like I said, its a pretty small park, only about 20 km from north to south, and about half that from east to west, with the parkway running north/south through the middle of it with only a couple of offshoots from the main road. The first of these offshoots is the Bison Loop Road, a dirt track that travels in a loop through a mostly open field where the bison like to hang out. I spotted a coyote in the under-brush shortly after turning on to the loop, but it was too far of for decent photos. Towards the end of the loop I spotted my first bison of the trip, a mother and calf (but I’ll leave that for the next post).
Further up the parkway I found another coyote on the side of the road, this time I was able to get a couple of photos before it disappeared over the hill. Shortly after that I spotted a Ruffed Grouse in the grass along the roadside (my first ever).
After driving down most of the roads in the park I was in serious need of some time out of the car (and it was the worst possible time of day for wildlife) so I thought I’d go for a quick hike, and ended up at the Beaver Pond Trail.
It was a nice short (3.5km) easy walk through Aspen forests (one of Canada’s most endangered habitats), but not overly exciting, and to my dismay, there was no beaver ponds, and therefore no beavers or waterfowl to photograph, which was the main reason I chose this particular trail (It wasn’t until I got back to the car that I stopped to read the information marker which explained how the ponds had dried up a couple of decades ago, (I guess I should have taken the time to read it at the start)).
One thing that I noticed about the park was that there was bee or wasp hives hanging from trees all over the place (on more than one occasion I stopped the car thinking I’d spotted it an owl or other large bird up in the trees only to realize it was a hive). Despite all the hives, I never actually noticed a problem with bees or wasps, but it could have been because it was so late in the year. There did however seem to be an incredible amount and variety of damselflies (dragonflies) fluttering about the trail, so I stopped to shoot a few shots.
After the hike I was in need of a nap, so I headed in to Fort Saskatchewan (and was awed and disgusted by all the refineries there) to find a hotel and a rest. I made another trip to the park for sunset, and then again for sunrise the next morning before heading home.
I saw a whole lot of bison, as well as three coyotes, a couple of deer, only a few elk from a distance (which was surprising considering they estimate the elk population at over 1,000). Lots of ducks and geese, a couple of Trumpeter Swans from a long way off, and two moose, (one while I was outside the park driving along the fence-line, it was trying to get out of the park, the other from inside the park, it was on the outside of the fence trying to find a way in). One of the definite highlights though was a little black and white skunk running along the roadside (I was about to get a photo but one of the parks trucks came flying over the hill and almost ran over it).
I was actually really impressed with the park, and the amount of wildlife I saw (the bison alone were worth the drive). But the scenery was pretty none-existent which could have been largely to do with the time of year (everything was overgrown and turning brown), it was however a nice change not to have to switch lenses every five minutes, (I think I put on my wide lens once the whole time I was in the park).
I’d really love to go back at a different time of year when the animals are more active, and the migrating birds are coming through, but I would definitely plan to spend more time, although the park is small there’s enough to see and do to keep me busy for at least a few more days.
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 spent my entire morning being lazy while my sister and I both contemplated going for a hike, eventually we did get up the motivation to go. And so it was late afternoon by the time we got out into Kananaskis country and still had no real plan, and were now severely limited in where to go because of the late time of day. We ended up at the trail-head for Burstall pass, all I knew about the hike at the time was that the lake wasn’t very far. It turns out that there was actually three different lakes.
The trail starts out passing along the shore of mud lake and through a nice open meadow before climbing uphill, and entering thick forest. It is a nice wide old logging road, which makes for really easy hiking. But since the trail is surrounded by dense forest the view is for the most part non-existent.
We passed by the first two lakes really quickly (I don’t think we actually noticed the second one was a lake), as the trail was a bit off from the lakeshore, and when we did try to get closer to the first one the shore was wet and muddy and swampy. We did stop for a little while at the third lake, which looked really nice, even though the sky was hazy, and the sun was setting over the mountain tops directly across from us, so there wasn’t much I could do in terms of photography.
We turned back at the third lake, but you could see where the trail led past the lake into a wide open alluvial flat which I’ve just learned is a open area of silt and clay caused by thousands of years of runoff from a glacier, in this case Robertson Glacier which can apparently be seen from the far end of the lake. But we never made it that far.
Although more of a walk than a hike, it was a good trip, and after reading up on the rest of the trail up to Burstall Pass I think I might have to add it to my list of hikes to do (although later in the year once the trails have dried out a little more).
We also had a frighteningly close call with a beautiful Bull Moose with big velvety antlers just a little way before Mud lake on the way back. But I’ll save that for another post…. (https://photoboom.ca/wp/?p=4068)!
Total Distance: 6.75 km (4.2 mi)
Total Time: 1:40:07
Moving Time: 1:19:01
Average Speed: 4.05 km/h (2.5 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 5.13 km/h (3.2 mi/h)
Max Speed: 13.10 km/h (8.1 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 1881 m (6171 ft)
Max Elevation: 1979 m (6491 ft)
Elevation Gain: 422 m (1386 ft)
Max Grade: 0 %
Min Grade: 0 %
Recorded: Sun Jul 08 17:26:16 MDT 2012
Activity type: –
With the weather finally starting to warm up I planned a hiking trip out to Chester Lake in Kananaskis Country with a couple of friends. But unfortunatly I found out a few days before that the trail was closed to prevent erosion and had to come up with another plan. After looking at the trail reports, it was obvious that we were going to have to stick to the lower elevations if we didn’t want to end up waist deep in snow. Most of the trails I’ve been wanting to hike were still reporting 1+ metres of snow, and high avalache risks.
After reading this I figured we should probably stick to something nice and easy. I finally settled on Mount Black Prince Cirque Trail, a nice easy 4.2 km loop (I clocked it at 4.98km) with about 90 metres of elevation gain.
The trailhead is at a parking lot marked Mount Black Prince, on Spray Lakes Trail, about 8km from Kananaskis Lakes Trail.
The trail starts out on a old abandoned logging road, heading easily uphill for about 15 minutes, before leveling out crossing over a bridge and leading into a boulder strew forested area to the shore of Warspite Lake. From what I read before the hike the lake had dried up a few years ago, so I was pleasently surprised when we got there and found a nice little lake.
After following along the side of the lake and through a open boulder covered area, the trail crosses a nice little footbridge over a small stream and enters thick forest before looping back around and reconnecting to the logging road and heading back down the hill.
There was still quite a bit of snow in patches on the trail, and the weather was pretty crappy with a sprinkling of rain. Although the tempurature was almost perfact for hiking (not cold, but cool enough to be comfortable).
The overcast sky was absolutely atrocious for taking photos, and I made the rookie mistake of not realizing I was shooting with my ISO still set to a 1000. So the photos are heavily edited and pretty crappy, but sometimes thats just how it goes.
Total distance: 4.98 km (3.1 mi)
Total time: 1:56:09
Moving time: 1:03:06
Average speed: 2.57 km/h (1.6 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 4.73 km/h (2.9 mi/h)
Max speed: 10.50 km/h (6.5 mi/h)
Average pace: 23.33 min/km (37.5 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 12.67 min/km (20.4 min/mi)
Min pace: 5.72 min/km (9.2 min/mi)
Max elevation: 1826 m (5992 ft)
Min elevation: 1714 m (5622 ft)
Elevation gain: 303 m (993 ft)
Max grade: 0 %
Min grade: 0 %
Recorded: 16-06-2012 14:05
Activity type: –
I don’t think I had ever been to Big Hill Springs before, so when one of my photo groups planned an outing there I though it was a great idea. But when It came time to go I had a couple of friends wanting to come and we were running late. So we just went and did our own thing (I said hello to the group in passing, but that was about it).
The springs make up a nice little set of waterfalls, so we spent some time playing with long exposures. Other than the water there wasn’t really much to photograph, and the light was pretty flat and gloomy, so we ended up doing a bit of a hike (more like a walk) through the park.
There is a nice little trail that passes by all of the falls, and then continues on up through the forest in a big loop that ends up back at the parking lot. It was solid ice in a few spots, which got somewhat tricky on the steep sections, but other than that was a nice walk walk through the forest.
Total Distance: 2.59 km (1.6 mi)
Total Time: 1:03:30
Moving Time: 31:48
Average Speed: 2.45 km/h (1.5 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 4.89 km/h (3.0 mi/h)
Max Speed: 11.13 km/h (6.9 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 1178 m (3865 ft)
Max Elevation: 1266 m (4153 ft)
Elevation Gain: 215 m (705 ft)
Max Grade: 0 %
Min Grade: 0 %
Recorded: Sun Feb 05 14:54:56 MST 2012
Activity type: trail hiking
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