canada general

Frosty run out from Assiniboine

Warmer this morning, we breakfasted, got mostly packed, then left the small child with the grandmother and hit the trails.

It was perfect running weather – cool, crisp and clear, without being cold enough that fingers, noses and toes started to freeze.

By the time we reached Wonder Pass, the frost had melted.

And as we dropped down towards Marvel Lake, the day kept getting warmer and warmer, and we dropped more and more layers.

The trails were deserted, the views were wonderful, and the running was mostly pretty fast. Of course eventually we hit the double track that would take us out through Mount Shark. Then the running was easier, but far less interesting.

At least when you’re running though, the tedious slog out to the Mount Shark trailhead is over much faster. And running with Alex was a welcome novelty.

We were rushing to reach the Mount Shark Helipad in time to catch the arrival of the first flight out from Assiniboine. But of course, the small child and grandmother were not on the first flight. They were on the fifth flight, and we hadn’t even thought of checking. Thankfully it was sunny, and we had a comfortable rock to nap on, as we watched the excitement of the helicopter travelling to and fro.

And an hour and a half later, the small child and grandmother finally emerged from the helicopter!

Distance: 26km
Elevation gain: 600m

canada general hiking moosling trip reports

Cold Assiniboine days

Following our run into Assiniboine, we spent a lazy evening wandering around as the temperature dropped.

We had found our hut, but felt no desire to spend any extra time in there. For future reference, the first week after school summer holidays end seems to be booked out at Naiset Huts by people who hate children and would prefer to live their lives in blissful ignorance of this terrible way in which the human race is continued. This may be a slight exaggeration, but at least one person there seemed to want to add our child to her collection so that she could make herself a nice coat.

Although it dawned clear the next morning, it was also cold and very frosty. We lingered over breakfast, before heading out to hike up the Niblet. Or the Nublet. Pretty sure it wasn’t the Noblet or the Nablet at least.

It stayed cold, and managed to be a little windy as well. None of us were feeling terribly warm.

I hadn’t realised how unenthused we were all appearing though, until I actually looked at the photos. It wasn’t that terrible, but it definitely wasn’t warm.

Our meander took us over to Elizabeth Lake, then Sunburst and Cerulean Lakes. Then we just had to kill a little more time before we could justifiably sit around in the cooking hut making dinner.

Our post-dinner hike took us out to Gog Lake, where Alex threw the boy in a creek, but the setting sun was lovely, and so was the lake.

canada general snow trip reports

Running into Assiniboine – A Winter September Wonderland

A few months before my Mum came to visit, I checked in with the Assiniboine Lodge folks to see if there was any availability in the Naiset Huts in the weeks she would be staying with us. There was – but there were only two nights left. So we booked them, and hoped for good weather.

Based on the other weather we had while she was here, it could have been much worse. But it was far from perfect.

While she and the now 4-year old boy flew in by helicopter, Alex and I ran in together from Sunshine Village.

At least it had stopped snowing – mostly. And it was fairly warm, there was barely a breeze, and it was quite a novelty to actually get out for a run with Alex for once.

As we ran towards Citadel Pass, the snow got deeper and deeper. The larches looked miserable under a heavy load of snow on their green needles. As it warmed up, snow on the trail turned into enormous puddles. I was tremendously pleased that I’d remembered to wear my goretex socks – my feet were toasty and warm, despite the occasional drenching in snow melt.

As we dropped down from Citadel Pass though, we quickly lost elevation, and snow.

The transition back into summer was joyous – we didn’t know who had killed the White Witch, but were pleased that someone had finally gotten around to it.

Also, we were excited to actually be running the high trail above the Porcupine Campground for once, instead of having to drop all the way down into the valley, before climbing all the way back out again.

The Valley of the Rocks always seems to last longer than you’d expect. Although we did spend most of the run marvelling at how quickly we were arriving at places. Our pace was four or five times faster than we could travel with small child in tow. Distances that would have taken us an hour or more with him were only taking 15 or 20 minutes, which was continually amazing.

In no time at all we were running our squelchy footed selves along the final stretch of trail from Lake Og to Assiniboine Lodge – where we found the grandmother and boy, who had enjoyed a non-eventful helicopter ride, and had just been for a walk down to Lake Magog which had been rapidly aborted when a bear was sighted wandering along above the lakeshore.

What luxury, to travel here without a heavy pack to carry! How bourgeois, to pay a helicopter to carry our things to a mountain hut!

Most miraculous of all, my legs were still holding up after the epic weekend I’d just put them through. Hurrah!

Distance: 27km
Elevation gain: ~1100m

canada general hiking moosling trip reports

Mount Assiniboine Redux: Day Three

Alex got up early this morning, and headed out to hike up the Nublet with a couple of others. I bravely guarded our tent from intruders in his absence.

This is the photo you can get if you hike up the Nublet for sunrise though:

We got going in a semi-organised kind of way, although the boy’s enthusiasm wasn’t high first thing in the morning.

He spent plenty of time sitting on the ground and complaining about tired legs for the first kilometre – we weren’t too concerned though, as they promptly got better and were good for running as soon as anything interesting happened.

We ended up taking it pretty easy that morning though. First there was a prolonged break to throw rocks at the majestic scenery.

Which turned into wandering around naked in the lake for those of us under the age of five.

That was followed by lots of running along boardwalks, and then watching fish swim up a stream. Alex tried going trout tickling, but failed to catch us one for dinner, despite some fairly amusing fish stalking attempts.

We were amazed by how beautiful the Wonder Pass trail was though, especially in comparison to Assiniboine Pass which we’d hiked over last time. We had gone that way because we thought it was shorter, but I’m not even sure it is shorter! And even if it is, a trail is much easier to hike along if you have wonderful things to stare at.

Speaking of wonderful things to stare at, a helicopter flew overhead at one point. The picture below captures the boy going “Wow! Coool!” as the helicopter went by. His excitement quickly transformed into terror as the helicopter kept flying back and forth, getting closer and closer to us. After that close call, we armed ourselves with sticks, just in case any other helicopters tried to get us.

The awesome scenery continued, as did the slow pace. But we had Lincoln with us this time, which helped keep the small person a little more entertained.

And there were lots of streams and bridges to stop at. Right towards the top of the pass we came across an enormously fat and content marmot. He hopped off one rock, then belly-flopped and wiggled his way onto another, before continuing to lazily sun himself. Marmots seem to have their life priorities sorted.

As we crested Wonder Pass, we found a nice breezy spot with a bit of shade to stop for lunch. Oops, we still had a long way to go, better pick up the pace!

Setting off after lunch, we realised that the others had lunched just a few hundred metres ahead of us. But we quickly lost them as we hiked down towards Marvel Lake.

There were some exciting snow patches to cross, and snow balls to be thrown.

But then the switchbacks began. Back and forth, back and forth, singing the Bear Hunt song again and again and again (“Uh oh, chocolate!… We can’t go round it. We can’t go under it. We’ll have to eat our way through it!”) The day got warmer, and the lake got tantilisingly closer.

Eventually the path stopped descending, and instead traversed along above the lake, taunting us with its glittering blue presence, so close yet so far.

Every stream crossing the trail became an opportunity for a break, and occasionally, for re-filling water containers.

But then we finally caught the others! And their tasty, tasty goldfish crackers.

From then on we hiked mostly as a group until we reached Marvel Lake.

The boy was thrilled to find a friend at this point, in the shape of a very sweet 9 year old girl who was out hiking with her parents. She very patiently listened to him enthuse about trains, and kept pace with him as we walked to the shores of Marvel Lake.

There we stopped to cook dinner, while the new friend kept going. There was much despair for some time, but food heals many issues in life.

Eventually we got up and hiked the final kilometre to the campground, and there was much joy as we set up our tent in the campsite next to the new friend, and went and visited her before going to bed for the night.

Hiking distance: 15.5km
Distance covered by small child: 15.5km plus additional running to and fro and general gallivanting metres
Free cookies: None :(
New friends for the small child: One very sweet nine year old girl from Calgary
The 2010 version: Here

canada general hiking moosling trip reports

Mount Assiniboine Redux: Day Two

We emerged from our mosquito-proof shelters into the bug-filled utopia outside.

The day started slowly, as we pretended to be freight cars being towed by various different engines. It’s tricky to walk very quickly when on a narrow trail holding hands.

Golden Valley and Valley of the Rocks were as hot and dry as I remembered them, and took just as long, if not longer, than I remembered them taking to walk through.

Breaks were frequent though – to climb on rocks, to steal goldfish, to give mosquitos a tasty, tasty dinner….

Finally though, the valley started to open up. We were no longer under imminent threat of ambush.

And was that? Could it possibly be? It was Lake Og!

The distance is much easier to cover when there’s a nice cool lake in sight. There may have even been a little galloping along the trail so we could hurry up and jump in for a swim.

The water was perfect.

And the breeze by the lake wasn’t too bad either.

After Lake Og the Evilmoose Family were on their own until we reached Assiniboine Lodge. This created some challenges in child motivation, as we’d run through most of the entertainment options we could think of by now.

Necessity is the mother of invention though – or something like that. And so we were trains, and planes, and helicopters, and animals, and we spent much time discussing cakes and birthdays.

There was a stop to climb onto The Rock in the meadow, and then the boy attempted to carry Mama’s pack. “Too heavy!”

This trail keeps seeming like it will be over, and then isn’t. But that’s always more likely to happen when you’re travelling at 2km/hr.

But then we reached Assiniboine Lodge! They had a telescope, and cookies, and cold drinks, and everyone else was there, and we were nearly at the campsite! And Lake Magog was JUST THERE! And Mount Assiniboine was JUST THERE!

The final walk to the campsite wasn’t too bad – it involved a lot of sticks and bridges, and then once we arrived at camp, the two small people went to play in their mosquito-free haven while we all set up camp again.

A few of us headed down to the lake to cook dinner. The boy threw rocks…. and then tried to help filter some water for us. It was a bit tricky for a small boy with small hands. The view from the lake was as gorgeous as ever though, and like last time, we had perfect weather.

Hiking distance: 16km
Distance covered by small child: 16km plus additional running to and fro and general gallivanting metres
Free cookies: One for each of us, courtesy of the lovely people at Assiniboine Lodge who were very impressed by a small boy with big strong legs.
The 2010 version: Here