Wow! What a weekend it was! My little brother and I really wanted some quality time together (he is spending the summer in Waterton before going back to Seattle) so we scheduled this camping trip over a month ago to make sure that we got some quality time in together! And we did have several adventures. He wanted to get out of Waterton, my typical place of choice so we decided to hit up Crowsnest Pass instead.
My first off impression is that the Crowsnest Pass is that it’s not the place for me. It’s crowded, the mountains aren’t nearly as dramatic as Waterton, and the trail heads are not marked (more on that later).
We camped at Chinook Lake just 6km north of Highway 3. It is very clearly marked and easy to find. This was my first time camping in a crowded camp ground EVER! I always camped in remote camp grounds or back country. I did not liek the experience at all! I was kept up until 3am the first night by the drunk d-bags two camping spots over from us and then awoken at 7am by the screaming kids right next to us. I was not a happy camper.
We intended to buy wood from the camp site but when we arrived they weren’t home. It was 8pm on a Friday night, prime camp site hours. I left a note and it wasn’t until 10 pm that the host came by with some wood for us to purchase. In the meantime we were starving and so picked up dead wood around the site (which we weren’t supposed to) to get a fire started to cook on.
When we tried to go down to Chinook Lake, it was so crowded we couldn’t find any parking. By the end of the trip I was pretty annoyed with the whole camp ground experience. From now on, I am sticking to back country.
We did have a good time being tourists in Crowsnest Pass. Ryan wasn’t with us on the first day as he had to work so Ben and I were complete tourists and started off our day walking through Blairmore.
I wanted to go on an epic hike with Ben, at least once. SO I researched local hikes and found one that goes to a World War !! plane crash site where the shell of the plane is still there. From that site you can hike 3km more up to the peak of the mountain it’s on. I was so excited to take Ben and Ryan and I found a free hiking map at Stone’s Throw Cafe so I thought I knew the way.
We followed the map to the North Creek Road and stopped under a big sign that said North Creek Staging Area while we looked for a sign somewhere. I stopped a group of passing mountain bikers (one of whom happened to be an old aquaintence) and got directions to the trail head. He said that we had to go over the yellow York Creek Bridge, up a few switchbacks and we would see a sign. We passed the bridge, drove up the switch backs and saw two trails forking. First we tried the left but that lead to what looked like a quad trail then we turned around and tried the right and ended up on another quad trail. We drove through puddles and over rocks and ruts and I was shocked at how awesome my car was doing.
This was the highlight of this morning. We drove around for over an hour before I gave up trying to find this trail or the trail head because there are several trails shooting off the main road and not one is marked and the map’s instructions were clear as mud. But I still enjoyed myself because my car Norman a small 2-wheel drive SUV was ROCKING on this off road terrain! I couldn’t believe it. I will never call Norman boring again!
So after about an hour and 15 minutes I stressed right out and said forget it. We went to a gas station and looked at the trail map and tried to find something that was a nice hike but short because we were quickly burning daylight. We decided on Saskatoon Mountain a 1.2km hike each way that was rated moderate. More details on this hike to come.
We ended our weekend with a swim in the Crowsnest River and headed back for home.
It was a good time, I enjoyed my time with my brother, but I will stick to Waterton from now on. It’s closer, there are less crowds, and most importantly trail heads are clearly marked!!!