Coliseum Mountain, Nordegg

October 2017 – Nordegg, AB near David Thompson Area

Directions: Going west from Rocky Mountain House down Hwy. 11, take the turn off just across from the Nordegg town access (Shunda Road).
Time: Approximately 4-5 hours total
Elevation: 2,035 m
Elevation Gain: 915 m

I haven’t really spent any time in the David Thompson area but it’s only 3 hours from Stony Plain. It’s a quieter, almost more mysterious area than the National Parks. Sarah and I took the day off work and drove there. She wanted to leave at 5 am as always, but I convinced her that since I hadn’t picked a super long hike, she should let me sleep in until 7 😪 it ended up being a really full day so she was right.

We drove on the back roads through a reserve and she stopped to pet a few wild horses. We eventually got to a truck stop on the reserve where a woman told us that the owner just let his horses run free 😡 the vibe was eerie, there wasn’t any farmed fields, just forests and hardly another car in sight except for those going to work in the backroad power plants. Eventually we found range road 152a but as usual, thanks to google, it went the opposite way. You could tell where Coliseum Mountain was, it’s super unique in that it literally looks like a coliseum shape on the top. So we took 152b, also labelled as Shunda I believe? Forgive me if I’m wrong because I forget. There was then amazing signs the whole way down the road that said “Coliseum Trail”. We were the only ones in the parking lot which was right next to what looked like a couple cabins. Again, not a soul in sight.

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Being in love with someone who loves you back reminds me of taking off on an airplane. There’s this rush of excitement for what’s to come, mingled with nerves in the depths of your stomach. You agreed to be on this plane because you have a sense of trust for the pilot; as much as you can trust your life in someone else’s hands anyway. You know there’s always a risk of it crashing but it doesn’t seem likely enough to worry about. You know there may be some turbulence to come along the way but again, this could not keep you off the plane. And as the rest of the world twinkles down below you, you float along in ignorant bliss knowing you don’t have to come down just yet.

-J

Waterton, AB

Edit: beautiful Waterton was touched this summer after I left by the wildfires, within feet. A sobering reminder to enjoy opportunities while you can. I’m so lucky to have seen this gorgeous place.

As far as hiking goes, I didn’t really get to touch this little gem of a place. There are plenty of summits around, but the dream for me is the Triple Crown of Waterton. There is a world hiking Triple Crown (the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail), but Waterton has it’s own 3 that can earn you a little pin, a spot on a wall, and mostly the satisfaction of these world-class treks. They are Crypt Lake Trail (recommended by National Geographic as one of the top ten hikes in the world), the Carthew-Alderson Trail, and the Akamina Ridge. All are day trips, and we only had a couple days. In retrospective I would hands-down choose to camp here (preferably in a trailer, as bears have been an issue lately with an RCMP officer chasing a black bear from the campground recently) and stay longer without the restriction of our expensive hotel, as with the six hour drive to the National Park, 2 nights just didn’t seem enough… 😦
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Abbot Pass/Hut – July 2017

July 2017 – On the border of Yoho National Park, BC and Banff National Park, AB

Directions: From Lake Louise, drive to the Lake O’Hara parking lot, approx. 10 minutes away. Here you will meet your reserved bus to take you to Lake O’Hara.

Time: Approximately 4-5 hours up to the hut, same down, unknown km’s

Elevation: 2,925 m

Elevation Gain: 915 m

Nestled between Mt. Lefroy and Mt. Victoria is a tiny hut, built in 1922 from the stones of the surrounding mountains. It is named Abbot Hut, after Philip Stanley Abbot, who became the first mountaineering fatality in North America in 1896 while trying the first summit of Lefroy. His death prompted the push for guides, and guides from Switzerland came over and brought materials up from the Alberta side. This route was taken via Lake Louise and what is now known as the “death trap” (melting has made the glaciers too unpredictable, and a fall into a crevasse is too likely). The other side, from British Columbia, became known as Abbot Pass, and is the most popular and safe route up to and down from the hut. Water flowing down from each side will empty into two different oceans. And, when you are in the outhouse behind the hut, you are sitting exactly on the border. The hut sits at 2925m elevation, making it the second highest permanent structure in Canada (second to the Neil Colgan hut, a tin hut that requires glacier travel and rock climb to reach). Abbot Hut serves as a place to summit Lefroy and Victoria in the early morning hours if you’re a climber, or if not, to sit and enjoy a game of cards amongst the peaks.

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Moose Mountain

May 2017 – Moose Mountain in Kananaskis, AB

Directions: Just off highway 66, west of Paddy’s Campground, turn off into a parking lot. From there follow the Moose Mountain road for 7 km until you reach a gate at the end where the trailhead and a sign are (Google maps works for getting to the fire road start).

Time: Approximately 6-7 hours total, ~15 km total

Elevation: 2,437 m

Elevation Gain: 506 m

If you turn off highway 1 south of Calgary and start driving into the quieter area of Kananaskis, you’ll find highway 66 near Bragg Creek. From there you can turn onto a dusty, bumpy road known as Moose Mountain road that leads you up the mountains for approximately 7 km. This is our second attempt, as this is a fire road that is closed (for good reason) between December 1st and May 14th. This is a good lesson to not only check trail/avalanche/bear reports, but also to check any access road closures. When you reach the end you’ll know, as there is a gate, a sign, and likely a small cluster of cars. Kananaskis trails are often spread from person to person, or good old trailpeak.com, but the internet has a wealth of contact information to speak to the people who manage the park.

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My Hiking Bucket List

I’ve always loved making bucket lists because they keep me on track with my goals, even though they are always changing.

I decided to share my specific hiking bucket list. I narrowed it down to the best and I did literally hours of “research”😂. I’ve had good luck with trailpeak.com and with other blogs, but I do know that I need to get myself some proper guidebooks. So if you have the time, take a quick Google of some of these and you’ll see why I want to do them all so badly. I’ve also got big dreams of Mount Fuji and Mount Kilamanjaro, or even the base camp of Everest, so, we’ll see where life takes me 🙂

Banff/Canmore/Kananaskis Area:

  • Night in Abbot Hut between Mt. Lefroy and Mt. Victoria (July 2017)
  • Cory Pass, Banff
  • Rockbound Lake, Banff
  • Cirque Peak, Banff
  • Mt. Temple, Banff (Yamnuska guides)
  • Tower of Babel, Banff
  • Cascade Mountain, Banff
  • Bourgeau Peak, Banff
  • Rundle Mountain, Banff
  • Wenkchemna Pass / Eiffel Peak, Banff
  • Sentinal Pass / Larch Valley, Banff
  • Lady MacDonald, Canmore
  • Sarrail Ridge, Kananaskis
  • Tent Ridge, Kananaskis 
  • Moose Mountain, Kananaskis Area
  • Coliseum Mountain, Nordegg
  • Nihahi Ridge, Kananaskis Area
  • Pigeon Mountain, Kananaskis Area
  • Mt. Allen Centennial Ridge, Kananaskis Area
  • Bald Hills Loop, Jasper

Waterton Triple Crown:

  • Crypt Lake, Waterton National Park
  • Carthew-Alderson Trail, Waterton National Park
  • Akamina Ridge, Waterton National Park

Other:

  • Backcountry camp at Berg Lake, BC
  • Avalanche Lake, Montana
  • Shadow Lake Backcountry Lodge (nearby hikes!)
  • Backcountry camp on Skyline Trail, Jasper

To be continued… stay tuned!