Date: August 7 - August 14, 2016
Permit Info: All campgrounds, except for Og Lake and Lake Magog, can be booked through Parks Canada. These booking can be made by calling 1-877-RESERVE (737-3783). Lake Og and Magog are first come first serve.
Start: Vista Lake Trailhead
Finish: Mount Shark
One of my favourite parts of getting up early is the stillness of the world. Everything is quiet and calm, waiting for the day to come. Such a great time to sit and be present!
After enjoying a bowl full of mueslix we set off on our way. Soon we arrived at Shadow Lake. The reflection on the water was breath taking. Fish could be seen swimming through the water while the surface created the perfect reflection. Group photos were taken to help keep this memory fresh.
Gaining more elevation we reached yet another lake, Haiduk Lake. We sat in the sun and ate our lunch while others braved the cool waters and went for a heart pumping dip.
Reaching Whistling Pass, our high point for the day, we were treated to views of Storm Mountain (where we started the day before) and Healy Pass (where we were headed tomorrow). Finally, our legs could relax knowing we only had to go down!
Lots of campsites were found at Egypt Lake, allowing us to keep our group together, and a beautiful flowing stream served as our water source. Some ventured off to explore the lake, resulting in a sprinting session to try and beat the rain to set up tents before everything became soaked. I believe a new world record was set for the fastest km ran in sandals!
Dinner was ate under the comfort of a tarp and fetching water was negotiated for dish duty. Isn't it amazing how it always decides to hail when one goes to fetch water?!
Lots of bear evidence was seen along the trail as we hiked through vast alpine meadows. Finding ourselves tip toeing along the Alberta - British Columbia border we travelled through Simpson Pass before climbing to the top of Wawa ridge overlooking Sunshine Ski Hill. Lunch was ate, whisky was drank, and packs were reloaded with our new food...don't worry the cucumber came along too!
The newly coffee (and alcohol) fuelled hikers resulted in a sprint away from Sunshine onwards to Howard Douglas. Arriving we found a campground in need of a little TLC; tent platforms were replaced with puddles, creating a scavenger hunt for flat dry land. Again, we found ourselves cooking beneath a tarp and luck would have it that someone had left their tarp there already set up!!
Not long after seeing the bear we started the long descent into the Golden Valley and the unique 'Valley of the Rocks'. What a spectacular part of the trail. Huge vistas were seen as we side hilled along the trail. It was my favourite section of the trip. Finally as the day came to a close we gently ascended towards Og Lake campground. Arriving we found that all the tent platforms were taken. Finding flat space wherever we could our group set up tents and supper was made. Some decided to jump into the lake...this however, created some issues. It appeared that little red critters were living in the silt at the bottom of the lake. With swimming the silt was disturbed and little red critters were EVERYWHERE!! Given that we only had drops to treat our water, we no longer had a suitable water source!!
That night Enough water for drinking was boiled and we decided to get up the next morning WITHOUT coffee and hike the 7km to Magog Lake. Once there we would sit back and enjoy a hot breakfast and yes...over 6L of coffee :)
With Og Lake campground well over capacity and the number of available campsites at Magog Lake unknown, people were chompin' at the bit! I stayed at the back and Natalie took off with the faster group to claim campsites. It turned out that we were not the only group to decide to get an early start and try to beat the masses. Soon another group of four were hot on our heels, in pursuit of the best tent platforms. Stepping off to the side they quickly passed us gaining on the faster part of our group. From this moment all I was told was that the faster hikers in our group took off like a bullet and basically ran the entire way to the campground. It was like a Tour De France sprint for the finish!!
The rest of the day everyone recovered from the race, lazing around in their tents, and exploring along the waters edge. To restore our glycogen we treated ourselves to cake and tea and Assiniboine Lodge. Did I mention they had cake??? Man, it was GOOD!!!
The day started with clear blue skies but as we descended from Chucks Ridge clouds started rolling in. We decided to stick to our plan of checking out the cliff jumping along the shores of Lake Magog, but by the time we reached the rocks only two of us still had the courage. It is amazing how a cliff doesn't seem that high until you stand peering over the edge!!!
Finally around 9am we were rewarded for our early start as we sat down and rested our bodies eating a warm breakfast and yet again...COFFEE!!! I have never had a group that enjoyed their coffee as much as these guys!
This new found energy carried them through the wide forested trail as we continued past Bryant Creek and onwards to Mount Shark. Some other hikers were not thrilled to hear Christmas carols being sung at the top of our lungs, but it kept us entertained on the seemingly never ending trail.
Luck would have it and the motivation of hot showers (SOME of us hadn't showered for 7days) and clean clothes kept us moving at a lightning pace, meeting our van a full hour ahead of schedule.
It was a wonderful trip! Beautiful scenery coupled with an amazing group. Physical endurance was pushed but everyone held their own and thoroughly impressed me. I can't wait to guide this trek again! Thanks Yamnuska for organizing the trip and thank you to: Elizabeth, Jo, Brooke, Cintia, John, Rachel, and Yukako for signing up for this adventure! And last but not least, thank you Nathalie for your amazing help on this trek! I'd guide with you again any day!!!