Two days in the mountains. Time for a change of scenery. Haven’t been camping this year so we pack up and head to the mountains. Being able to go mid week is a bonus because the likelihood of finding a spot is greatly increased. We are off to Kootenay Plains. Just west of Rocky Mountain House but not quite in Banff National Park. It is a place where quaders and dirt bikers thrive. Rip it up. Literally. We are headed to Two O’Clock Creek Campground. An area that is more sedate, we hope.
I think highway 11 is the most spectacular way to approach the mountains. Entering on highway 1, into Banff, is entering the wilderness on a freeway and on highway 16, into Jasper. is abrupt, you are not in the mountains and then you are. Highway 11 eases you into leaving Rocky Mountain House, the wilderness becomes quite dense, the mountains appear gradually and you don’t even see the real jagged peaks until you are almost at the park gates.
One of the sights along the route is the man made Abraham Lake. The Big Horn Dam holds back the North Saskatchewan River and creates the most spectacular blue lake. It is the same colour as water surrounding most Caribbean islands. The same river runs through our city and the folks in town have been bemoaning how low our river is. Well! The water is in Abraham Lake. The lake is higher than I have ever seen it and the river above the lake is flowing fast and furious. I’m not sure if the low river is causing problems but if anyone wants water all they have to do is travel upstream and they will find all the water they need.
The campground is much as we remember, but the price of camping has gone up. $27/night for an unserviced site with outhouses and no showers or anything. The price does however include a wheelbarrow of wood each day. Something absolutely useless to us, we haven’t had a fire in 20 years. We take the wood anyway and give it to our friends who have outdoor fire pits in their back yards.
The two days we choose to spend away from the ‘light dome’ of the city are suppose to be the two best days to view the Perseid Meteor Shower. So, we stay up late. Real late for us. We lay on the bench of the picnic table until midnight staring up. I’m not sure what I expected but the ‘shower’ is more like a drip. There are a ton of satellites moving this way or that to keep me amused but in two hours of darkness I saw maybe 15 meteors streak across the sky. A couple were spectacular, bright streaks with a burst of light as a finale, but most were just a small dot with a tail that zipped from one side of my vision to the other in about two seconds. Blink and I miss it. I guess I’ll never be an astronomy geek but for a short time I view something extraordinary.
We want to do a couple of hikes and know of a couple of places we thought we might be able to go. I was talking to the campground host and he had 8 or 10 different locations to walk. The next morning we start out in search of a waterfall on Bridge Creek. We are warned the trail had washed out “during the flood” and most of the walk is on creek bed but it was hard to get lost as long as we stayed on the creek. OMG it was hard walking. It took us 2.5 hours to walk 3.2 Km. Almost as slow as the hardest part of the the West Coast Trail. We cross the creek 5 or 7 times, it is just wide and deep enough we have to find a log or stepping rocks each time we cross.
Finally we reach the falls. Trouble was the water flow is low at this time of the year and we are not sure we are where we are supposed to be. They are not very awe inspiring. This is not a hike I would recommend to those visiting the area one time only.
The next day we light out for ‘a meadow’ on the south side of the North Saskatchewan. This time we have bridges to cross the water way. Much more civil. We have specific verbal instructions. “At the end of the boardwalk take the left fork. Walk along the path which is an abandoned road. The next fork take a left and follow what seems to be an animal trail to the meadow.” It is a beautiful place, with very nice views. Yeah. At the first junction the there are three paths not two so the one on the left is a little ambiguous. We notice another group of hikers ahead and we follow them, not always the wisest thing to do. It was the middle of the three arms. When we catch them we find them to have the same destination as us and they have slightly better instructions that specifically said the middle arm. We spend the next couple of hours wandering around the bush trying to interpret the instructions given separately to our groups. Backtracking several times and heading in a different direction. There was not too much danger of getting lost. The mountains around were quite visible and easy to navigate from and we did not wander far from the old cart track that would lead us back to the main trail. Anyway we never do find the meadow. It was rather disappointing for the six of us, but we made four very pleasant but temporary friends. I gave them each a blog card and maybe we will keep in touch. I hope so as I enjoyed chatting with these ladies and sometimes these happenstance meetings can result in a longer friendships.
It was supposed to be a relaxing two days but I come home bagged, as on both days the walks were exhausting. The mountains, fresh air and simple living do clear the mind though. We really must do this more often.