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Hike to the Mount Assiniboine – The Canadian Matterhorn

Hike to the Mount Assiniboine – The Canadian Matterhorn

The time together with my travel buddy Moritz sadly was about to come to an end soon and it was the time to do a big finishing hike. For those asking how I came down from Alaska to the Rockies so fast … well, we were driving a lot. Of course, we experienced much on our way down but the Alaska Highway will be the subject of another post when I will find the time to write about it, so stay tuned for that. So, for now, we were back in the Rockies, in the Banff National Park to be precise, one of the most visited National parks in the world. And we just came from the lonesome wilderness of Alaska and the Yukon. It was hard to get used to all this trouble around yourself. Even better, that we could avoid most of them by doing another multi-day hike in the backcountry. We decided to do a hike at the lower end of the National Park, to be precisely it would start outside of the park and we would walk into it. The start was at the Spray Lakes Provincial Park, then it went on into the Banff National Park and from there we entered the Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. All by foot! This was more than 50 kilometers again, all within three days.

The first day we covered the way from the Shark Mountain Trailhead to the Marvel Lake Campground. 13 kilometers, that we had to carry all our heavy equipment. Certainly, the way was beautiful, what made the heavy luggage more of a side problem. Past by crystal clear mountain creeks the way went further into the Bryan Creek Valley, always lined by the huge rock massifs of the Rocky Mountains.

Somehow it didn’t get boring, as there were views like that all the time.

The campground then was laying at the foot of a gravel hill. Unfortunately, it was not laying, as expected by the name, on the shore of the lake but 1,5 kilometers away from it in the woods. As we covered the way to the campground pretty fast we went to the lake later on the same day and observed the breathtaking scenery.  The lake, the summits, the glacier in the background and the endless amount of coniferous trees on the slopes. Just marvelous.

Pretty much every lake in the Rockies has this incredible blue color.

Later on, we found out, that we could actually see the lake and the valley from the hill behind the campground, too, so we didn’t have to go to the shore all the time.

The next day we had planned the huge loop over the Assiniboine Pass to the Magog Lake, from there over the Wonder Pass and then back along the Marvel Lake to the campground. Nothing less than 30 kilometers! Indeed, we had less weight to carry but there were still some obstacles waiting for us. The way to the first pass was quite simple to go. The sun was shining, sometimes even a little bit too warm, but we came from the cold North and were pleased about that. As from the Assiniboine Pass, the Mount Assiniboine was visible for the first time, the weather changed a little bit towards clouds and a little bit of wind. Quickly put on a jacket and on we go. From the pass, we pretty fast arrived at the lodge, which was only accessible by helicopter or by foot, passed it and then we were finally there! The Magog Lake directly to our feet and behind it the mighty Mount Assiniboine! The Canadian Matterhorn! Breathtaking!

What a wonderful feeling to stand right next to the lake at the foot of the Mount Assiniboine.

Once more we were lucky that the clouds were passing by pretty high, so the summit was still below them and clearly visible. No matter of course, as through the enormous elevation of over 3700 Meters there are usually a lot of thermic winds resulting in dense clouds around the summit on many days of the year. I probably took 100 photos of one and the same mountain, but it was just beautiful.

After we finished our lunch there we had to decide whether we would go the same way back or take the way over the Wonder Pass. The Wonder Pass hadn’t been walked by anyone without snowshoes in this season so far and everybody was waiting for someone else to do the first steps an employee of the lodge told us. That was exactly something for us! Snow, wetness, and cold were actually nothing new for us after our two months road trip. So we started to head towards the Wonder Pass. And this one really packed a punch.

Back in the snow again. There were still great views along the way up to the pass.

It wasn’t that steep, but there were enormous masses of snow still covering what’s supposed to be the trail. We sank into the snow as deep as our waists on nearly each step and we fastly didn’t know either where the actual trail was. But we went on continuously and in the end, we made it to the top of the pass. We really got rewarded for the hassle on the way up with an incredible view over dozens of summits around us.

The scenery was just enough reward for the hard way up to the pass.

It was only unfortunate, that on the other side the snow continued and didn’t get less, as we first expected it to be. So it went on, another 45 minutes through the deep snow until we finally had solid ground beneath our feet again. Those were, of course, completely wet by that time. But it was somehow great anyways! Would’ve been boring to not end up in the snow again at the end of our Alaska trip.

The last snow we had to walk through before we reached the valley.

The actual reward for going over the pass actually just came on the way down when we had a view of the valley on the other side. Above the Marvel Lake, not visible from the shore we were standing the evening before, there was the Gloria Lake, that appeared in the most unnatural blue I ever saw. Just like from another planet. Unfortunately, we only could see this lake shimmering through the dense woods around us and there was no real viewpoint on it, so I could only capture parts of it for you.

Honestly, this lake looks like a chemical disaster, but it’s perfectly natural. It’s just the melted glacier ice that gives the lake this color.

We ran up and down the trail to find a good spot but this was as good as it got. Also fine, if not every treasure of this world is easily accessible and some of them stay preserved by the impact of humans. I’m really excited if I would see another lake on my journey with such marvelous colors.

The rest of the trail we walked along the Marvel Lake. We were already walking far over 20 kilometers on that day and our legs began to get heavy again. The shows felt like concrete blocks on our feet and we were only glad when we finally arrived at the campground to have our dinner. What a day! So many unforgettable memories!

Only getting along the lake and then we finally got back to the campground.

In the night to the third day, it started to rain so we had to pack in our tent wet. Stupid, even more to carry. But the food was gone, so it kept the weight kind of in balance. The weather acted up very weird on that day, so we ended up walking through bright sunshine and having snowflakes falling from the sky just a couple of minutes later. However, nothing could bother us anymore. We made it once more and had a great time again. We experienced beautiful nature and made it to run away from all the tourists, to enjoy the Rockies from their best side.

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1 Comment

  1. Oda
    Wednesday June 28th, 2017 / 10:49 PM

    Lieber Moritz, ich wünsche Dir, dass Du Dir auch über all die folgenden Wochen Deine unerschöpfliche Begeisterung erhalten kannst. Ganz viele liebe Grüße von Oda und Hubert

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