April 04, 2004
This hike was organized by Aaron Mihaljevich to help pass off requirements in the Duty-To-God award that required a 25km hike. The leaders of course, take some credit as always, especially Jason Smigel.
The venturers went on the 25km hike down by Crows Nest Pass. Daniel's grandpa's place in Blairmore. It provided the base camp Wednesday night. Jason Smigel thought spending the 1st nigh at Grandpa's would work out best. Grandpa must have put in a real effort, as it was quite clean (not Mom style clean, but clean, he's a widower). He provide the full dinner for us, and the boys loved it. Fried hamburgers, fried smokies, fired onions and freshly deep-fried French fries. Tom Elford and Jason asked if Grandpa always eats like this? Anyways, we were able to pack on the carbs for the hike. The boys watch the Flames lose to Vancouver in the series and then hit the hay.
During the night, grandpa's snoring got so bad, I finally moved from the living room to sleep in the back porch. Here I was at least able to close a door between us. Sucks to be a light sleeper there, between his BIG BEN clock chimes and the Canadian Pacific Railway road crossing traffic, you could hardly get a wink in. So, no problem getting up early. Grandpa provided a nice waffle breakfast and then he took us to the trail head. The idea was to leave a vehicle at one end, close to a campsite we couldn't drive into, and then take everyone to the other end of the trail. We parked at what we though was the trail head, said goodbye to Grandpa and headed of. We had maps, GPS, compasses, what more could we need. According to the map the trail (an old road) had 2 forks and we were to stay on the right of both, how simple. Well things didn't quite line up on the maps with our surrounding terrain. Never did see Alexander creek that was suppose to be following the left side of the trail, but we persevered.
After about 4 hour of hiking we came to the last supposed fork. The trail headed to what looked like to transmission tower on the peak of the mountain. But the our map indicated this was the 2nd fork and to turn right. Snow got up to around our hips here. If you had big feet it helped. There was a semi visible snowmobile track, that if you walked on gingerly, provided slightly firmer snow and reduced the drops though to your hips. So, combined with the steep uphill switchback, this part was a real workout.
The weather was overcast and snowing, but we were sweating are butts off climbing up this trail. Once we finally reached the tower on the summit, we were able to see the other side and the main hi-way that we came in on. At that point it became obvious we were not going to make it to any campground. We horsed around up there for a bit and then backtracked to the starting point.
After our 7 hours of hiking, we drove to where we left Tom's truck with the heavier gear for the big meal etc. We decided to force open the gate that indicated 'No vehicle past this point' and drive to the campground, drop off the stuff and sneek the vehicle back. After all, who would know. Well we got through and headed up to Chinook lake campground. It was definitely more than 2 km. More like 5. So were were all glad we weren't walking in with our 5gal water jugs, Coleman stoves, 50lb coolers etc. When we finally reach the site we assumed it was by the lake. Wrong, lake was another km away. So as the view didn't improve we decided to just drive back and use the site close to where we had parked the truck. This being illegal and all. Now just as we were about to pull through the gate guess who was walking up to see us. His 1st comment to us was "You guys special or something?". After grovelling a bit and providing all the lame justification stories we could contrive, he let us off. He also indicated the other site was only a day use area and we couldn't camp there for the night. He suggested the Lone Island Lake campground on the hi-way. So, glad that that was over, we headed for the new campground. This site was pinched between the hi-way, a thin lake and the Canadian Pacific railway tracks. Oh well how bad could it be? We scouted out some tent spots and started a fire. We had the whole place to ourselves, well almost. A 300 lb family man sporting motorcycle clubber attire, pulled in. The black rapper music was thumping out of his car. The kids piled out and lit up their smokes and started hauling out beer, food and gear. Course they picked the spot right next to us, fancy that. As the evening progressed the boys had varying opinions on the various black rapper tunes being belted out by our neighbour. His daughter was eying up the venturers, but no one was showed any interest.
Finally another party animal type showed up and he at least setup at the other side of the site. This prompted our neighbour to break camp next to us and move over to the other group. Their party went up a few notched after that, but at least it was a bit further away.
We had a great stake dinner. Jason's wife had prepared some marinated stakes that we BBQ on the campfire grill. They really hit the spot after the major workout of the day. Bed time came around mid-night with the other group's party going strong. I spent the next while relocating my tent in various locations. The beauty of a small dome tent eh!. I tried moving further away from the site, closer to the lake. The noise from the passing semi-trailers with their engine retarders made me quickly change my mine. I remembers a spot on the open road dividing the sites that had a kind of concrete wall for a campground sign. They make good sound barriers I though, so that's where the tent went. It was still a bit cold, and getting into the cold sleeping bags was a challenge. There was only minimal hooting and hollering now, so I was able to doze off, well at least until the first train. It seems there's a fair bit of train traffic here. I counted 4 through the night. One spent about an hour shunt cars by the sound of it. At least there were no road crossings so they didn't need to let off their horns. We were close enough to feel the ground shake though. Between one of the trains a couple of the girls (very intoxicated) came over to our side of the campground yelling and laughing at each other.
Now when one stays at a campground that has no fee, I'd be leery of the experience you might have. But if it's free I guess you can't complain. The boys and other leaders could probably sleep through an earthquake, so for them, their nights rest was great.
We got up early and tied right into breakfast. The other side of the campground was definitely quite now. The boys started popping off some fire crackers they had (not sure if that was to get even or not) while the breakfast cooked. They took turns cooking pancakes and bacon. It got to be a real art to get that perfect strip cooked just right, follow with the golden brown flapjack. We were true Albertan, using only Coyote pancake mix and Alberta beef.
With the food devoured, a 1/2 hour stint went to skipping stones on the lake, and then we headed home. Now for a peaceful ride home with only a minor tickle here and there from a meandering wood tick trying to crawl up to a warmer spot on your body.
|Jason Smigel , Tom Elford, Karl Burndorfer, - Leaders|
|Aaron Mihaljevich, Bret Payne, Craig Vance, Daniel Burndorfer, Ezra Lau, Darren Stone - Boys.|
|Quick raspberry for the team.||The matrix reschuffle.||Starting off down the wrong road.|
|! hump camel|
|Hold onto me Ezra, the wind nearly blew me over.||How deep are those?|
|Want to see how much snow you can pack inside your shoes?||Oh look, that's where we went wrong.|
|If you keep your arms out like this, you only sink up to your pits.|
|Ezra, hopelessly stuck in the deep snow.||More member aid in the rescue.||Here, let me kick you?|
|Laying down is so much easier.|
|If your really still, the squirrels will come.|