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Thread: AB Nor = Alberta Rockies North (Jasper & Willmore) Swarming Bugs and Wildfire Haze: Enter Tonquin
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 07-28-2021, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
zeljkok
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Default Surprise - Outpost Dayhike

Next day after packing up Maccarib Camp I made my way on main Artery to Clitheroe, with brief stop at Amethyst camp -probably most popular Tonquin campground- for water break. Amethyst was also very buggy, but very nicely laid out & I could see why people like to stay here. Crowd could be spotted at Lake shore; I was told later they spotted caribou. Past some boardwalks trail turns east and climbs back into the forest reaching Clitheroe in about 2km. Contrary to Amethyst Camp, Clitheroe is probably least popular. Reason -- it is entirely in the woods so you get no views. Plus - you might be able to find space here when other camps are fully booked. Bugs were horrible and I did entire chore of setting up camp & having lunch with mosquito net on. Also water was quite far away - you need to walk back for ~200m to main trail, then another ~100m to creek crossing. I simply filled my cooking pot & had enough for tea later on & breakfast next morning.


After lunch, I headed down the trail towards Surprise Point passing Tonquin Ranger cabin along the way. This cabin is situated in a very pretty meadow with great views of the Ramparts -- I say over and over: Park Rangers know where to build their cabins! Stopped briefly at the porch, then continued down towards Surprise. This is unbelievably scenic area, and all classic shots of Tonquin you see floating on Internet are taken by outlet, which was very nicely bridged. Surprise Point is for my money best Tonquin campground; only drawback I could find was that water was quite far away. Either walk back to Amethyst outlet, which was almost 1km away, or take still water from small lake below which needs to be boiled. I was also surprised that there were only 4 tent pads! And then abundance of picnic tables; think every tent site had one to itself in cooking area! When I come back to Tonquin for photography I plan to stay in Surprise for several nights; it can easily be reached in 6-7 hrs from Astoria trailhead, and there is also loop return option.


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[Ranger Cabin below Clitheroe]


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[Pano at Amethyst Lake outlet; this is just a phenomenal spot when skies are clear. Surprise point is less than km away]


Beyond Surprise Camp trail descends for quite awhile towards Eremite Valley Junction. It is big rooty but not terrible, however when dayhiking from Clitheroe or Surprise you need to reascend all this on return. Reaching valley bottom there was Eremite / Outpost / Astoria junction
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Note: If you plan on seeing Chrome Lake (and you should, as it very pretty) you need to walk for ~5min in Astoria direction. I was also told that some bridge in that direction was washed out & it was not possible to connect all the way, but this info was not verified. Eremite trail soon comes to another junction and I continued towards Outpost Lake and Wates Gibson Hut. Some hikers at Surprise camp told me (and shown photos) of submerged bridge in Eremite/Arrowhead direction so it was not even possible to head there in this time; I'll save it for fall, clear skies trip. Several crossings of Outpost creek were also quite high, but not an issue. Final rise to Wates Gibson hut gains more elevation than expected. Hut itself is quite nice. There was nobody there; after inspecting the environment, I hiked to boat dock and had a snack.



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[Bridged crossing of Outpost creek; almost overflowing]


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[Wates-Gibson ACC Hut; very nice, there was nobody in & it was locked. I peeked through the window and saw standard setup. Outhouse was behind and since it was open I used it]


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[Wates-Gibson Hut detail]


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[Woodshed behind the Hut with plenty of firewood]


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[Interesting sign by the Hut! Make your own conclusions]


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[Outpost lake from the dock below the Hut]



Noticing something on far shore I decided to take a look: Good trail leads around the lake, and that feature was actually old fireplace. It looks like there was a cabin there at some point, and now all that's left is this fireplace.

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If you follow trail past the fireplace to far end of the lake, you will be able to spot small waterfall draining Outpost Lake. After inspecting it, I returned & decided to take a dip in the lake. Bugs were horrible so the trick was to take your clothes as fast as you can and just dive in. Then when you get out you have about a minute while still wet before they come back at you. Refreshing - and interesting - experience.


I then hiked back up to Surprise Point (with brief detour to Chrome Lake) and onto Clitheroe for the night. Next day after packing up I hiked to Astoria trailhead where parked car waited. This will be the last post.
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