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Thread: AB Cen = Alberta Rockies Central (Banff & David Thompson) Red Deer River - Douglas/McBride Valley
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post #1 of (permalink) Old 09-08-2018, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
zeljkok
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Default Red Deer River - Douglas/McBride Valley

This was 2 night, 3 day Skoki backpack into Red Deer Lakes. First night was spent at Baker Lake and after moving camp on day 2 via delightful Cottongrass Meadows below Oyster Mtn, I had full afternoon to explore this wonderful area I have not visited before. Smoke that obscured Rockies for most of the summer lifted (albeit briefly) and allowed awesome conditions. Well known back-country trail connects Pipestone and Red Deer River valleys; after exploring brief part of it, I ventured into beautiful alpine valley between Mt. Douglas and Oyster Peak -- easily the highlight of '18 summer hiking season. Initial part to Natural Bridge is reasonably well known; what was not expected was well defined trail that continues into upper valley; I suspect this is normal climber access for Douglas/St. Bride. I touched just a bit of it and wished I planned my logistics a bit differently -- next time. Picture(s) are worth a 1000 words:


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[Crossing Red Deer River flats past the campground. Oyster Peak upper right; snowy cone of Mt. Douglas center]


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[Pipestone Mountain]


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[Cyclone Ranger cabin. These guys know how to live. Had dinner on this porch. Douglas/St. Bride distance right]


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[Closer look at Douglas Mountain. You can clearly see series of crumbling rock-bands in middle part -- the crux. Only online report I could find is here, but this party approached from Baker lake side and this can not be recommended -- even by their own admission]



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[Signed junction ~2km east from Ranger cabin. Main trail continues straight - go right. There are couple of easy fords (ankle high this time of year) -- I did both with boots on and managed to have my feet dry (gaiters)]


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[Delightful hiking past the ford of Red Deer River]


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[Natural Bridge. It is quite awesome and well-worth the visit. Trail continues on the left side; upper valley is 10 minutes away]


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[Top of natural bridge looking back. Drummond glacier on the horizon. Facebook boys have great report of Mt. Drummond ascent here]


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[Upper valley. Well defined (and traveled) trail continues, which is my main reason for belief this valley is used for normal Mt. Douglas / St. Bride approach]


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[(In)famous notch on St. Bride that makes ascent technical; I can not find any online report - even on Steven Song site]


Last day I hiked back by looping around Skoki Mountain, and then via Skoki Lakes/Packer Pass. Smoke came back & I have no photos worth sharing. Finally couple of nice photos of Baker Lake from day 1 / morning of day 2:



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I will definitely come back to explore further -- main goal is Douglas Lake and Valley of Hidden Lakes; not much online data about this one either. I confirmed with Park Ranger that random camping is allowed by Douglas Lake so this is next summer trip.




Alternate report with more high-res photos here

Last edited by zeljkok; 09-09-2018 at 08:50 PM.
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