Tamarack Trail - July 15/16
We ended up starting from the Rowe Lakes trailhead along the Akamina Parkway, spent the night at Lone Lake, and then hiked out along the Blakiston Creek route Sunday morning.
Forecast was 32 degrees and sunny, so we were all prepared to battle heat stroke and sun burns. Ended up being waaaay off! The first couple hours were pretty hot, but we were under tree cover for most of that. It wasn't long after we got out into the open area where you begin making the ascent to Lineham Ridge that it began raining. At first it was super refreshing but then it started coming down harder and the wind picked up.
As we were climbing, the wind got worse and worse, to the point where I literally almost got blown off the side of the mountain! I am not exaggerating. There were multiple times while climbing and while hiking along the ridge that we had to brace ourselves with our poles and feet firmly planted and bodies facing the wall of the mountain and just fight to stay upright until the gust passed. It was honestly quite scary at times.
We made it to the top of the ridge and found a crevice to get out of the wind for a moment, eat some lunch, and put on some more layers. The wind got even crazier when we got to the other side of the ridge, but the trail began to descent again quite quickly and as we descended further the wind died down. By the time we were about a quarter of the way down the rain slowed to a drizzle and the wind turned into a light, warm breeze. The rest of the day the weather was quite pleasant. Mostly sunny with a nice breeze.
We found the trail to be deceptively twisty and although the trail is very easy to follow (there were no points of confusion where it looked like there was another trail or anything), I found it really confusing and kind of frustrating when every time I looked ahead and thought I knew where the trail was heading, it would veer off in a completely different direction. It was really weird lol It's like whoever first created this trail had someweird hatred toward direct routes.
There was also a tonne of up and down through the forested parts after we got past Lineham Ridge. Like, it does not friggin end! Then, once you get over this one peak, you can finally see Lone Lake, but have to take a series of very long switchbacks to get down there. We were very happy to finally arrive at our campsite after about 7 and a half hours of climbing, freezing, going up and down and up and down and up and down, and meandering seemingly all over the damn place haha
The campsites at Lone Lake were fantastic. The eating area is very nice, with a nice fire pit area, smoothed logs for sitting, and a cool stone table. The sites had decent tent pads on them, which made for a comfier night and easier set up than many of the other backcountry sites we have camped at. The outhouse was suprisingly decent. I often choose to just dig a cathole rather than use some of the incredibly rank outhouses found in the backcountry, but had no issue using this one. I think it was relatively new.
The hike out on Sunday morning was super easy and only took us a few hours. It was mostly downhill and/or flat and there were virtually no hazards on the trail at all.
I would love to come back to Waterton and do more hiking. I don't think I would do the hike from Day 1 on this trip again though. I found it to be a pretty frustrating/annoying trail with very little payoff. Most of the prettiest sights can be reached via day hikes. I'd maybe hike up to Upper Rowe Lakes on a day hike though. If we were to do an overnight again, I'd probably just do the trip from Red Rock Canyon around the mountains and back out Blakiston Creek.