Marvel Pass Basecamp - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 08-11-2012, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
High on the Mountain Top
 
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Default Marvel Pass Basecamp

Last long-weekend I went on camping trip with my 3 friends to Cabin Lake on Marvel Pass along Alberta-BC border. The lake is a BC side of the provincial border, Banff NP starts just west and south of the lake, so we could legally random camp. We had the lake to ourselves for all 3 days, great treat for a long-weekend! It's a little known and beautiful area, mostly known for providing the shortest access to Assiniboine Core Area. Marvel Pass and Cabin Lakes are great destinations on their own.

<center>FIRST DAY</center>

I forgot my GPS home so we had some trouble finding the trailhead on Fri night. On Sat morning we realized we camped behind threatening signs "no trespassing", "dangerous explosives", "property of Beymag mine", etc. Well, we didn't explode anything so I guess it was OK. []

We finally found the signed trailhead and started our journey. Later I learned that we could have driven to the end of the gravel road to shave off the first 1.5km. If you do this trip, ignore the trailhead direction given in Copelands Gotta Hike BC and continue driving until the road comes to the end. The trail begins on the right and immediately crosses Aurora Creek.

The trail is in fairly good shape up to the Pass. I had some trouble finding Cabin Lake. It is not very precisely shown on GemTrek map (this map doesn't show the access road that branches off Beymag Mine Road as well, so don't rely on it on this trip). There is a signed juncture near the high point of the Pass. Turn right on the trail leading to Owl Lake to find Cabin Lake 200 meters further.

It's only 7.5km to the Lake from the trailhead we took. We arrived early enough to pitch tents, have dinner and do a side-trip. Thinly treed alpine meadows south of the Lake provided a nice terrain to explore. We went further up and I hiked to the top of the Eastern summit of Marvel Peak (which I named Little Marvel). The true summit of Marvel Peak was within the sight but I didn't have the time to do it. I set 9pm as the turnaround point and it was already 8:45pm. Besides, my friends were waiting for me below.

<center>Photos</center>
1. Drive to the end of the road (black line) to shave 1.5km off the trail description provided by the Copelands; 2) Aurora Creek Cascades; 3) Mt. Eon; 4) Mt. Aurora; 7-8) Cabin Lake; 10) Assiniboine from Little Marvel; 11) Wonder Pass from Little Marvel; 12) True Summit of Marvel Peak; 13) Byng Mountain; 14-15) Looking Back at Cabin Lake; 17-18) Cabin Lake after Sunset

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.


<center>SECOND DAY</center>

On the 2nd day we hiked to Assiniboine Core Area via Wonder Pass. The trail first descends 350m Marvel Pass to Marvel Lake and then gains 600m to reach the crest of Wonder Pass. It's the shortest way to Assiniboine but not the easiest one by far. The trail quickly deteriorates below Marvel Pass. We were up to Tarzan-style experience of climbing over many dozens of fallen trees. Near Marvel Lake the trail is completely obscured by the deadfall. Follow red ribbons to find the trail or ford two creeks on your own as we did. Gaining 600m to the way to Wonder Pass wouldn't be easy with heavy packs either. It was an enjoyable trip just because we had very little on our backs.

<center>Photos</center>
1. Marvel Lake; 2. Marvel Lake from Wonder Pass; 3-6. Wonder Pass; 7. Gog Lake; 8-9. Meadows Beside Gog Lake; 10-11. Classic Shots of Mt. Assiniboine; 12. Assiniboine from inside of the Lodge; 13-14. Wonder Pass Trail; 15. Pond on Marvel Pass

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

<center>THIRD DAY</center>

On the 3rd day we packed up and went back to the trailhead. On the way back we met a large group with kids going to ... Cabin Lake.



This was a great trip except one thing, mosquitoes. They were brutal! I never seen so many mosquitoes. I used to kill 20 mosquitoes with one stroke of my palm and 5 seconds later the equal number was sitting on my body again. Each of us probably killed a few thousands these pesky bloodsuckers. My white T-shirt turned grey from the mass murder committed . At the end of the 2nd day we ran out of mosquito repellant... We would have to head back on the 3rd day even if we wanted to stay longer.

In retrospective, Marvel Pass is a boggy place similar to Tonquin Valley. I think it's a great late summer or September destination, just after night frost finally kills all bloodsuckers. I'm definitely come back to Cabin Lake, probably with more scramble oriented folks. It's a mecca for scramblers similar to Skoki. Almost all mountains around Marvel Pass offer non-technical routes to the top. Marvel and Byng are easy scrambles. Aurora looks like moderate scramble and, I'm told, Gloria is the difficult one.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 08-11-2012, 07:42 PM
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Really gret TR!!! I've always wanted to go there The slog through all the deadfall I could do without,and I totally understand about the mosquitoes,vampires!! Having that lovely lake to yourselves,what a bonus!!! Thanks for sharing your adventure and your beautiful pics.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 08-11-2012, 09:36 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you! When you hike Marvel Pass, do it as a destination in its own. It's a very pretty (and little known) place, great one to escape crowds, even on a long-weekend!
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 08-11-2012, 10:34 PM
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There are some outstanding shots here Engor (swimsuit edition will gather most clicks though).

At some point I'd like to have a little photo chat with you. I am curious about your technique, as well as equipment you are using.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 08-11-2012, 11:51 PM Thread Starter
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zeljkok: Lol, I'm glad I didn't post more Nastia's swimsuit photos, only those that emphasize scenery. It would surely shift the focus of this thread

I'm actually flattered to hear your comments about my photos. I remember your pictures from Maligne Pass and some other places made my jaw drop. I'm not very happy about many of my pictures on this trip: clouds are overexposed in some, others are not sharp enough and some important elements are off-focus. I shot on a tripod a few best ones.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 08-14-2012, 09:25 PM Thread Starter
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Two ClubTread members contacted me independently of each other about Aurora Creek trailhead directions. I'm going to post it here in case more people have the same question:

Take gravel Settlers Road (18km north of Radium Hot Springs). Follow signs for to Baymag Mine (Cross River). At around 12km turn left on Kootenay-Palliser Road. At 14km follow left on Cross River Road. At 21km follow right. At 33km turn left on Cross-Mitchel River Road. Between 38 and 39km reach the premises of Baymag Mine. You will be "greeted" with signs "no authorized personal beyond this point" etc. At this point turn sharp right on an unmarked road and follow it to the very end (Please note that GemTrek's Banff and Assiniboine map doesn't show this road). There is a sign on the right "Marvel Pass Trailhead" 4km further. Ignore it and drive app. 1.5km further if you want to shave off more than 1km. 500m or so before the end of the road what looks like landslide debris cross the road. Low clearance vehicles won't be able to drive over this hindrance. Park in a small pullout before the debris and walk the remaining distance or drive over it if you can. I saw 4 cars parked before the debris and 2 beyond. There are lots of room to park your car at the end of the road. From the end of the road note a creek on your right. It's Aurora Creek. You won't have a trouble picking a fairly noticeable trail that leads to the Creek and immediately crosses it. Once on the trail you won't lose it. There are lots of flagging and the trail is fairly noticeable up to the Pass. It's a narrow valley after all so the way up is obvious.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 08-20-2012, 05:30 PM
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Awesome pics, Engor!

And good point on where to park...when I hiked it years ago I parked at the signed TH, then was bugged because the trail went along just outside the clearcut for next 1.5 km and I could see the road not far away!

It's an easy enough hike, but still, every km or so you can save (x2) is all the more energy you'll have at the pass for a scramble or whatever.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 09-11-2012, 05:26 PM
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first post here. Wanted to thank you for your post here!!!! was immensely helpful for my wife and I to commit to going into Assiniboine via this route. Took our second trip to Canada (3 years ago did Berg Lake/Mt. Robson and a portion of the North Boundary Trail).. Did the Rockwall for a few days then took a half day in Radium then back up into the park and by your 'backway' into Assiniboine.

I've done a lot of back road stuff in Oregon/Washington and such but doing it in the Canadian Rockies is new for me. Though in retrospect it is not a radically different animal to undertake. I had all sorts of anxiety about the first leg (your TR) from getting up the road to making sure we were on the correct trail up to Marvel and getting down to Marvel Lake.

On the way down from Marvel Pass to Marvel Lake there was lots of blowdown on 9/5/12. All of this was cut from Wonder Pass to Marvel Pass as of 9/8/12! Where could I find who did this?? It was quite the treat as we dreaded dealing with it all on the way up. Had to be over 100 cuts for sure.

Also I heard the excessive over-the-top flagging on the Aurora side was from an American law firm who did some sort of survivalist/orienteering/challenge thing coming to Assiniboine Lodge via Sunshine (one group) and Aurora (another).. a group of 50~ I heard! All fun and games until 4 of them had to be airlifted out due to twisted knees/ankles or some stupidity. And leaving all that flagging..

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post #9 of (permalink) Old 09-11-2012, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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Welcome to ClubTread, Matt! Thanks a lot for the conditions update. With all those blowdown trees cut, Marvel Pass-to-Wonder Pass is now surely a much more pleasant trail to hike! Glad you didn't have to climb over the trees with heavy pack on the way back.

BTW, how were mosquitoes near Cabin Lake?
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 12:49 AM
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thanks for the welcome. I perused some of your other TRs now that I'm a member -- I need to put in some more long drives to taste some more of the canadian rockies!

cold nights have done in the skeeto population that you mentioned. in your pics i think i saw some snow at wonder pass still in the lowest portions--all gone now. When we went over 9/5/12 actually it snowed perhaps 2-3 inches there-everything above wonder pass elevation got quite a bit of fresh snow that lasted for a few days--we were fairly soaked before we left treeline but knew with the hut lodging in front of us we could push through fine.

anyways the mornings had lots of frost so I am thinking the skeetos are probably done for at this point. I only noticed some next to magog lake one evening around sunset--and they were not even biting really, just swarming stupid. the fish were going nuts on the surface, perhaps they knew their buggy food-source was not long for this world.

any ideas on who would have done the trail maintenance? i am no expert but it seems like the work was done with a chain saw.. They even further hewed and improved the log crossings on the streams from terrapin to marvel lake that you cross. And clipped vegetation to make the path very clear there. Is this Canadian Forest Service? A trails club? a personal trail-angel volunteer? etc. Would love to try to get a 'thank you' to whoever did the actual work. we had a great day out and the blowdown would have been ok since it was sunny, dry, and our packs were a fair bit lighter and no mental taxings about 'finding the trail' or what we would encounter. but having it cleared was just such an appreciated gift after a soaking, freezing, snowy foray just a few days earlier (3rd time drenched in the week..2x on the rockwall trail).

also the colors at marvel pass were the best of anywhere we visited. tons of reds..fall was nearly fullon there it seemed, short of yellow larches. god i'd love to make it back sometime to see the larch display 'round there...



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post #11 of (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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I'm glad to hear that you find my TRs useful. Please note that I usually post reports on not so popular trails/routes. If I post about a popular trail, it's usually if I have to say something new/ show different perspective. Skyline in Jasper and Northover Ridge in Kananaskis are some of my favorite trails/routes but I didn't bother posting a trip report because there so many of them already here on ClubTread.

Glad to hear that the mossies were gone by the time you hiked the trail. I have to revisit Marvel Pass someday during the larch season. September is my favorite season in the Rockies. Wonder Pass Trail passes through a large larch forest too.

The trail between Marvel and Wonder Pass is in Banff National Park so I assume it's the work of Banff park wardens. Pleasantly surprised they did it since this trail has been ignored for years.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2013, 06:00 PM
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Engor, as far as i can tell Cabin Lake is actually in Banff National Park. The park/provincial border is indeed, as you describe, west and south of the lake, putting the lake within Alberta. The Canadian Rockies Trail Guide seems to confirm this:

excerpt from 75 - Owl Lake - Marvel Pass

'A small lake on the pass provides a pleasant rest stop and viewpoint and is also a bit of a curiosity. Though its waters drain west into British Columbia, it was mapped as part of Alberta and actually lies within Banff National Park. A partially constructed log cabin sits on the lake's north shore, where a British Columbia resident started building in the 1970s believing he was on the BC side of the border; he was informed otherwise by the park authorities.'

I doubt anyone would give you much grief for random camping so near the park boundary but as the lake appears to be inside the park it isn't technically legal.
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2013, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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[quote]Originally posted by klozowski

Don't think so. Aurora Creek drains Cabin Lake and eventually flows into Pacific Ocean. Alberta-BC boundary in the Rockies strictly follows the Continental Divide and therefore is easy to determine. Unless we are talking about Alberta's illegal annexation of BC territory It doesn't make sense.

I have heard many times about free camping by Cabin Lake "'cos it's right outside of Banff NP". I believe you are mistaken. And I've noticed so many errors in hiking guidebooks, including Canadian Rockies Trail Guide, that it doesn't convince me at all.

PS. GemTrek Map "Banff and Mt. Assiniboine" shows Cabin/Aurora Lake firmly in BC.
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