Index ] [ 2006 ]
Trip Report - Sept 14 to 21, 2006
September 14th - 16th - When I arrived in Vancouver, Hodgeman was sitting in the
airport's Elephant & Castle Pub waiting for me. The next day we started our 1200 mile journey to the Rockies and back via
Jasper, The Icefield Parkway, Banff, Lake Louise, Yoho, Glacier, etc.
Our plan was to spend 7 days backpacking in the core area of Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. Two weeks prior they were still having summer weather but an organized system rolled through and left about
18" of new snow on our route :-)
After a couple of days traveling through some breathtaking scenery, standing on huge glaciers and dancing with elk, we arrived in Banff.
Elk on the Icefields Parkway
Grizzly Track near Camp
16th - This morning we drove up to the Sunshine ski area to catch our shuttle up the private road to the trailhead.
And off we go towards our first stop Howard Douglas Lake....
The trail was pretty easy going through the meadow areas, and the snow wasn't very deep so we made good time.
After reaching the lake and pitching camp, we went for a bit of a day hike up the ridge behind the lake. That's where we encountered the large bear tracks for the first time. Near the top of the ridge there were so many tracks it looked like a critter freeway. Obviously a herd of something had moved through the area, probably Bighorn Sheep.
While we were on the ridge we noticed three hikers pulling in from up the
trail. We circled high and then dropped back down to the trail and continued back down to Howard Douglas Lake.
The three hikers had just encountered a Griz on the trail, rolling in the snow
right in the middle of the trail. They had hiked around it just minutes before arriving at HD Lake.
We visited with the other hikers during meal prep and were treated to a most excellent star show that
night.... the last clear skies we would see for a while ;-)
17th - On day two we were scheduled for a long day...14 miles to Lake Magog in the core of the Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park.
At Citadel pass we entered the park.
Traveling through Golden Valley and Valley of the Rocks, we catch our first glimpse of Mount Assiniboine.
After what seemed like endless ups and downs through Valley of the Rocks, this puppy was way beyond tired and hitting the
wall, so we opted to stay at Og Lake...
approx. 4 miles short of our intended goal.
After setting up camp at Og Lake and snapping a few photos, we started dinner.
It began to sprinkle a bit so Hodgeman set up the tarp. We enjoyed our Thermarest chairs and our nightly campfire (candle
lantern), before turning in.
Reflection on Og Lake
Visitor at Camp
- Well let's just say we had a bit of weather at Og Lake last night. But it wasn't too bad
this morning when we broke camp and moved to Lake Magog. We arrived pretty early,
and after setting up we were back on our original schedule.... dayhiking
We dropped off the Nub on the Elizabeth Lake trail. The Larch trees are incredible in September... electric green and gold!
After taking a break at Elizabeth Lake to enjoy some genuine Double Stuff Oreos®,
we continued on a trail taking us past Cerulean Lake, Sunburst lake and back to Lake
When we got back to Lake Magog, Miss Boine was showing her face and the surface of the lake was calm, so we headed down to the lake shore for some reflection shots.
Well after the photo shoot with Miss Assiniboine, we made our way back up to camp and enjoyed a calm evening.
No tarp tonight, just hanging out in the open air with our trusty campfire under glass. After dinner we noticed a visitor in
camp. Although there were probably lulls in the conversation I don't remember
any. We always seemed to have plenty to talk about. Were your ears ringing???
LOL! Later in the evening we had a visitor after dark. With the headlamps illuminating the area where the sound was coming from we notice a very large rabbit or
hare. We just laughed.
19th - In the morning we awoke to cloudy skies. After breakfast we set up the tarp just in case we had some weather later in the day.
The plan was to hike up to Wonder Pass via the Naiset Huts and Gog Lake.
On our way to Wonder Pass there were waterfalls, Naiset huts and a ranger cabin.
As we continue up towards Wonder Pass we reach Gog Lake. When we reached Wonder Pass the weather was building and the clouds were resting heavy on the
peaks obscuring what would have been a grand view. So we head back down towards the Mount Assiniboine Lodge following the trail through a
Larch Forest. As we near the lodge the helicopter is landing with new lodge
guests. We pause at a trail intersection to watch all of the activity.
We stop by the main lodge, pick up a brochure and take a peek inside. We were too early for tea time, so we head back to camp for a while. After hanging around camp a while it's finally tea time! The public is welcome at the lodge for afternoon tea and cakes.
Mmmm.... Hodgeman tells me that you can substitute tea for beer, wine or
soda.... Kewl ! Well let's just say we started having "a bit of weather" while we were hiking the mile or so back up to the lodge. The kind of weather that travels sideways on an
Through the Larch
Cabin at Assiniboine Lodge
|When we arrive at the lodge we shed the muddy boots, gaiters and the rain gear in the breezeway and head inside. Much to my surprise we are the only ones in the dining room.
The nice lady that works at the lodge brings us both a Coke and a plate with 6 small slices of various
cakes. WOW!.... never had that kind of service in the backcountry before
;-) We hung around for quite a while. Hodgeman had a beer and I had another Coke as we watched the rain turn to snow through the windows of the lodge dining room. The staff seemed to be concerned for
us. "You're staying at the campground?", they asked several times as the snow got a little thicker.
Hodgeman said "yes, we are set up pretty good over there". Then we heard a voice coming from the kitchen... "There are some Naiset Huts available". We took a couple of Cokes to go, and settled up our bill... "$30 even should do it" Ouch! (but they were really good).
Back in the breezeway, we got back into our rain gear and headed back to our
camp. The snow was coming in on an angle... big wet flakes that just stuck to my rain gear. I looked down and my rain gear was solid white! Walking talking snowman
None the worse for wear we arrive back at camp... dinner under the tarp tonight
:-) That ice cold Coke was very nice with dinner!!!
- This morning we awoke to a light dusting of snow, so it's breakfast under the tarp too.
Since the snow was still falling we did discuss our options...
1. Continue as planned
2. Stay an extra night in a Naiset Hut and do a couple of higher mileage days to get out.
3. Throw money at it and fly out.
After a little discussion we decided to go ahead as planned. Today's destination was Porcupine
Camp, a much lower elevation in the trees where we could have a fire. That turned out to be the perfect decision.
I stowed my camera for this portion of the hike not wanting to expose it to the
"bit of weather" we were having. Hodgeman took several photos along this section of trail.
By Hodgeman - Okay, so we pack it up wet and snowy to set off for Porcupine, down at the head of the Simpson Valley. It's about 700 feet lower than the trail we came in on, so maybe that will get us out of the weather a bit.
The sun tried to burn through as we started out and I thought WindWalker might get the camera back out.
It actually looked like it might clear up as we turned for the meadow trail back toward Og Lake.
But as we neared Og, we were heading back into the clouds. A pika greets us at the Valley of the Rocks and so does the snow.
Finally a chance to dry out and warm up at Porcupine Camp.
That fire at Porcupine Camp warmed me through and through!!! Finally got a chance to dry my socks out thoroughly
:-) We stayed up all the way to midnight that night.... LOL!
WindWalker at Porcupine Camp
WindWalker & Hodgeman
21rst - So this morning we need to climb up out of this 700' hole to
the trail, and make our way back through Citadel Pass. The trail was
"slightly uphill" for most of the day :-)
At Citadel pass we had a snack or two and soaked in the views. We were greeted upon our arrival by
a little chipmunk. After hanging around on the pass for a while, we head toward today's destination Howard Douglas
Lake... our last camp on this trip.
Back at Howard Douglas Lake, tomorrow we leave the backcountry. So on
this last afternoon I went nutz with the camera ;-)
We met a hiker from Calgary here on our last night, who had brought in lots of fresh food. He shared fresh rolls, dill pickles,
hot chocolate, etc. with us. I must say, it was very good after a week in the backcountry. We were also treated to another amazing star show here at Howard Douglas Lake!
The next morning we hiked out and met the shuttle by 10AM. Thanks to the
Hodgeman for a wonderful trip.... The Trip of a Lifetime!!!