Archive for July, 2007


Goats !

Wilcox pass is defiantly a magical hike. First the scenery is incredible secondly the wildlife was amazing.


After leaving Rampart creek we headed to Wilcox creek camp ground. We have been really impressed with the cleanliness and the quality of the campgrounds in the Parks. Each night has cost us just under $15 which has been great!

1/3 of the way up

Pricilla Betsy Aurona was great today. Even after the abuse of going up the hell hill twice. We forgot boots back at the camp site. Thank god it is an amazing road. Nan made a great call to stop in and register for a campsite before hiking because I think that they must be all full tonight. There are almost 50 camp sites at Wilcox it is a little cheek to jowl, but it really doesn’t matter we are really just eating and sleeping here.

The hike to Wilcox pass starts at the entrance to the camp ground so we parked at site 44 and walked back to the start of the hike. There is clean potable water here so I filled my camel bag and Nan filled a Nalgene for herself.

The hike was an amazing 7 hours. It starts through tall spruce trees then after a kilometer and 1/2 the it opens up into alpine tundra with views of the Columbia Ice field. At the top of the pass we were surrounded by alpine meadow in all directions within a bowl ringed by mountains.

The alpine tundra continued up until the Scree of Mount Wilcox. just before the scree we were graced with the presence of 5 mountain goats. Big old dad, two ladies, a juvenile, and one from this year. We were able to walk up within 100 feet of them. We carefully sat on a large bolder, and watched them graze for 20 minutes. It was a pretty magical time.


We decided for a summit attempt after the goats. Up the scree and to the hard rock, a little scrambling. We rested at one of the false summits and decided that it got a little to technical past that point so this would be a far as we would go. We had a great 340 degrees from where we were so another panorama was snapped.


From our resting point we headed down the hill. Scrambled scree down most of it. Nan hates the feeling of slipping (scree can be a little bit like ball bearings). She was a trooper and didn’t complain. in fact I didn’t know that she was petrified of the experience until we were at the bottom. She did great and we both made it done in one piece.


We were blessed again on the hike out by stumbling across a rock ptarmigan and her 3 chicks crossing the path. We walked slowly and were able to get close enough to touch her. We didn’t molest only took a couple of pictures.


Lastly I did decide that I need to have a quick shave so thanks to my little Trangea to heat the water and Pricilla’s mirror I was able to clean off my 3 days of stubble.

All in all it was a great day. Life is good and this time with Nan has been awesome.


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Day 3

Well today seemed to start with everything amiss.

First my coffee boiled over and so instead of turning down the stove I turned it off without noticing. Resulting in Awful coffee. It looked good, but I would have rather drank low tide mud flat water.


Second after trying to get everything together Nan asked me to grab her some socks… you wouldn’t think that this would be a difficult task. But after 15 min of searching in our one big duffle bag I gave up. Nan took over and still no socks. After some discussing it was decided that they were in long term storage on top of the van. The bag on top of the van is easy to get at with a ladder, but requires some monkey work without one

Third the drive to the trail head. There is no sign going north so it was very easy to blow by. Well blow is a bit of an exaggeration, I swear that they would not have been able to make the highway any steeper as it flows in Jasper National Park. There was a couple of times that I thought the olde (that’s for Nan) camp mobile (dear god, we really need a name for the Olde Camp Mobile) wasn’t going to make it. The temperature was really hot and the road was unbearably steep. I kept thinking that I would see flames coming out of the side air vents. but faithful she made it. Even though we stopped once to after smelling electrical burning I think it must have been the camper in front of us.
After back tracking 5 miles we found Nigel Creek trail head. The sign southbound was up and clear. It is a small unassuming road in the middle of one of these very steep climbs. We probably would have found it sooner but miscommunication was a hinderance.

The hike The first segment was really short down a gravel road to the bridge which took us across Nigel creek. The roar of the creek (river) kept us company most of the hike.


Most of the hike is through second growth boreal forest. within the first couple of kilometers we stumbled into Camp Parker. The perimeter was marked by little houses cut into the trees. The hiking book alludes to the importance of this camp but doesn’t shed any detail on what it is all about. We were left to speculate it was set up in 1941 (at least that was one of the dates carved into the trees. Had it been an interment camp?

The forest was broken up in regular intervals by ancient rock slides, which have now been heavily covered in Willow bushes. Some of it is was as tall as my head. These slides now create areas in which water flows down a hundred creeks and water courses. With each opening the surrounding mountains teased out visual cortex with incredible vistas.


Nigel pass offers a great view of the Saskatchewan glacier as well as the surrounding mountains. We had originally thought of going further, but because of our late start, and not having a watch, we decide that this was a perfect spot to stop and enjoy.
As these things go the way down took half the time, and with careful foot placing Nan didn’t drencher her feat for a second time, she did on the way up. as water coursed over the tops of both of her boots, during one of the “creek” crossings.

The road home was uneventful, I did back track a bit all the way to Sask’ crossing, for some gas.

We had a delicious dinner of Clam chowder with some left over noodle from last night, and bread.

We had a sponge bath (with most of our clothes on one for modesty and the other because of the mosquitoes. then crashed into the Van (which we have named, finally)

Welcome Pricilla Betsy Aurona

Pricilla: because she can be very high maintenance

Betsy: because although she is high maintenance, when she runs, she pulls like a pack horse

Aurona: the goddess of dawn (new beginnings) thanks mom!

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What a great night. Finally got out of the City at 7pm after our last Sushi meal at Hana Sushi (well at least for the next 6 weeks) and headed to Cochane. Not that far out of Calgary, but at least we are on the road. We crashed for the night at Nan’s cooperating teacher’s house (the Harker’s). Rand was home but his wife Cathy and daughter Jess were still out. I watched “Heat” with Rand and Nan. Long movie is a little slow in parts but overall throughly enjoyable. Woke up bright and early Cathy and Jess had already left for work, Rand was still waiting for his hiking buddy.


Nan and I decided to take the 1A out of Cochrane on out way to Banff. the first stop was at the McDougall Memorial Church 5 km west of the city limits. I have driven by it hundreds of times, but it is nice to not have the pressures of a place to be. The church itself was built in 1875, but not on it present location. According to the couple in the parking lot it had been move 5 km eastwards. It is in a picturesque setting and can be rented for all occasions.

Stopped for a quick bit in Canmore. Beemers: good coffee, tasty treats. in Canmore we decided to both get a good pair of sun glasses for the long drive ahead. Nan had a great idea that we rent a canoe at lake Minnewanka, so off we headed.


Well you can’t rent canoes on the lake anymore, but you can rent 16′ tin boats for a modest fee of $40/hour. We bit the bullet and took one out for a spin. It was a little under powered, having only 8 HP, but it did the trick of showing us a view of the Lake Minnewanka area that we had not see before. Except for the few sheep traveled along the waters edge to the dam, the area was pretty devoid of moving life. We killed the motor half way across the lake and enjoyed the relative calm while we ate lunch. the point at which we stopped was a particular sweet spot for echos. We zipped across the lake to watch a chipmunk play at the waters edge. And sailed back to the dock right at the hour mark.


We weren’t done with the area yet, we decide to go for a quick hike. Enter sheep from Stage left. A herd of Mountain sheep decided that they need something more in their diet, they took their turns scrubbing the top and sides of a cast iron rusty cook stove with their tongues. I can only imagine that they are missing iron in their diets. We headed up the trail to find a small bridge crossing a ravine. Here another herd of Sheep had crossed the river across the bridge and while leaving a very small couple of month old calf on one side. As the patriarch bleated the baby bleated back. On able to find it way on the near vertical cliff it doubled back slipped a little and then beyond imagination headed down the steep wall into the water and up the near vertical other side. Pretty incredible.


On our return trip we encountered many more mini herds, also more people wanting to get as close as possible to get that “perfect” picture. A friendly little chipmunk came out to check out Nan. It even jumped up the where her hand was to see if there were any yummy hand outs. None for the little guy but we did stop and get an ice cream before heading to Lake Louise.


We stopped briefly at Lake Louise to grab a few provisions as well as some ice for the cooler. The drive north of Lake Louise is pretty spectacular with vast mountain vistas, and peaking glaciers. At one point after a series of long hills we stopped for a photo op. The van was smoking a bit. Even though I realized that it was burning some oil from a constant slow leak, that was supposed to be fixed before heading off, it was still worrisome.


We finally pulled into Rampart creek campground. What a great place Nan picked out. I must have been a little tired. We decided that the first campsite was not as good as the one right beside it. While Nan jumped out to get the envelope to put our money in. I carefully backed the van into a tree. Thankfully it wasn’t very hard. The tree bent, the bikes which are on the back of the van seemed relatively unhurt (thank god). Parked in the new spot. Got out and stretched.

I knew that I would sleep well that night.

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