Middle Earth to Mount Assiniboine - With guest app
Middle Earth to Mount Assiniboine - With guest appearance by Frodo Baggins
By the pre-dawn light of the 15th Day of September in the Year 2012, by Shire reckoning, myself and two drowsy hikers headed out across the Prairies in search of GOLD in the Canadian Rockies. On this journey some would mistake us for Hobbits but we are better known as: PackRat, Hiking Solo and Darrenbell of the "Flat Land Hikin' Clan".
Fueled by caffeine we headed for Canmore where we acquired even more caffeine ("It comes in Pints!") and began the serpentine drive up the dusty Spray Lakes Trail quickly arriving at the Mount Shark trailhead.
Trading wheels for boots our trio headed into the woods stopping briefly to check for Trolls at the Bryant Creek Bridge near the end of the Spray Lakes Reservoir.
Finding no Trolls we sought shelter from the cool Fall evening and headed for the Bryant Creek Shelter where we encountered strange folk from the faraway lands of Switzerland and New Zealand as well as not so strange folk from the Czech Republic.
The strange folk were preparing their Frodo and Gandalf costumes for the reenactment of their journey through Middle Earth guided by Pocahontas.
The performance was epic, reaching its zenith with Frodo fighting off Orcs while Gandalf declares "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" which scared all of the local bears into early hibernation. The finally saw Frodo being guided to safety by a heavily armed Pocahontas. At least that is how I recall the performance and I do not know how well it translated to Czech.
After the Backcountry Dinner theater we retired to the warm cabin and made up some new card games where the rules kept changing mid game but I was eventually declared "The President". It was fortunate for my many followers that I had brought the Worlds noisiest sleeping pad so that they could hear every presidential toss and turn I made throughout the night.
Day 2 of the journey our trio left the thespians at the Bryant Creek Shelter and headed for Assiniboine Pass being careful to stay south the forbidden zone where hungry grizzlies are rumored to eat small children who can not yodel. We were quickly passed by Jiri from the Czech Republic but he waited at the top of the pass to feed us cookies and proudly let Hiking Solo know that her Leki hiking poles were made in his home country.
Once over the pass our pace quickened as we were keen to see if the helicopters that had been buzzing overhead all day dropped any cold beverages for us at the Assiniboine Lodge. While enjoying a tasty beverage and watching climbers descend from the Hind Hut we got our first sighting of Michael Jackson! Michael was shrouded in several layers of clothing and holding a coat over his head to hide from any paparazzo hiding in the bushes but every one agreed that it was the real Michael Jackson hiding amongst a group of Japanese Tourists. Exciting Times!
With our room mate Jiri we settled into the Naiset Huts for the evening and enjoyed the new cook shelter that BC Parks built a few years ago. I think we were the only Canadians staying up at Assiniboine so there was a nice international flavor to the evening.
Day 3 arrived clear, calm and cool. A perfect day to search for gold!
Whispers on Club Tread had indicated that the gold could be seen from the top of Nub Peak so off we went. We were quickly rewarded with beautiful views of golden larches and cool blue lakes surrounded by spectacular mountain vistas.
The helicopters had left another mess of full beer cans back at the lodge so we helped clean that up on our way back to our hut and met our new room mate Atsushi from Banff via Japan. We kicked Hiking Solo out of her bunk and onto the floor so Atsushi could have his own bed for the evening and showed him how the battery powered Christmas lights worked so he could impress his wife when she arrived later in the week.
Day 4 would be the day of Lakes. Darrenbell had found some holes in his feet so he took the day off to supervise the cook shelter. Hiking Solo and myself headed for Sunburst Lake and then over to Cerulean Lake where we found some fine fall colours and scrambled around the boulder field below Wedgwood Peak. We even saw a cloud!
In the afternoon we headed through the Lake Magog campground to the base of Mount Assiniboine.
We thought about circumnavigating Lake Magog but were uncertain if there was a passable trail all the way back to the lodge. We ended up following the north shore back along the direction we came and were able to stay close the shoreline the whole way. There was a lot of interesting geology along the lake shore including large collections of rocks encased in some kind of cement and then sheared apart by forces of nature. Rocks are cool!
Day 5 began our slow journey home. We woke early, said our goodbyes and headed for Wonder Pass. Slowly climbing through a tunnel of golden larches you hardly notice that you are gaining altitude on the way to the pass. Hiking Solo found an busted hornets nest along the trail and I began to wonder if we would have another evening of dinner theater.
As the day heated up we crested Wonder Pass and began the descent to Marvel Lake. The switchbacks get steep as you drop towards the lake but it is a tease as you never get near the water.
As we entered the meadows near the Bryant Creek Shelter a helicopter flew over with a sling load of empty wine bottles and beer cans, I am glad we were able to help lighten their load.
We stopped for the night at Bryant Creek Shelter and spent a restless night playing "Whack-A-Mouse". I also brought out the Presidential Sleeping Pad to make sure that no one got a decent nights sleep.
Day 6 was an easy hike out to the Mount Shark trailhead with a quick Troll check at the Bryant Creek Bridge but it seems that all of the Trolls have left Middle Earth for the Internets.
Location: Not too far from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
quote:Originally posted by PackRat
We kicked Hiking Solo out of her bunk and onto the floor so Atsushi could have his own bed for the evening and showed him how the battery powered Christmas lights worked so he could impress his wife when she arrived later in the week.
Still bitter that I chose to sleep on the floor and ruined your (and Darren's) "surprise" for me, eh? LoL - good to know that nice guys (and gals) DON'T always finish last, mwahahahaha! [}]
BTW, great TR, PackRat; thank you for writing it
P.S. - Next time you and Darren plot to play a trick on me, you'd best do the plotting when you're sober, LoL!!
Congratulations Davin I hear that you and Erin have added a new little hiker to the family! He is probably taller than me already.
Lol, thanks Steve. Looking forward to doing plenty of dayhikes next year, and hopefully baby's first backpacking trip too. We have a couple large canvas prints of mountain scenes in our living room; one is from Cataract Pass and the other from the Tonquin. He stares at them non-stop with wide-eyed wonder. Hoping that's a good sign...
This was a trip I had attempted about 8 years back but circumstances occurred and alas, my journey into the Mt. Assiniboine area would have to wait until this year. Steve and I originally planned to go in mid August (my idea really, he was all gaga about catching the Larch in color change in September, me.. I just didn't want snow). As it turned out, we lucked out with 6 days of awesome blue bird days.
Steve(Packrat) has summed up our trip pretty well, so I will just post a few pics to add to it.
First views of Mt. Assiniboine from Assiniboine Pass/meadows north of Lodge
Decending off the Nubblet
Mt. Assiniboine and Lake Magog
Catching the Larch photos on the way to Wonder Pass
[cView of Marvel Lake as we hiked along towards Bryant Creek