Wedge Mountain

Above: Views of Crowsnest mountain on the hike up the ridge.

A group of us decided to hike to the old plane crash wreckage in Coleman however found  that a disgruntled land owner had blocked the entrance to the road leading to the trail head with some hefty sized boulders. After a quick chat with some locals, we found out that random people had been using the road to access this mans property and use it as a dumping ground as well as a place to steal gravel/fill.

Saddened by this news we ruled out the hike as starting from where the road is cut off was not an option as it would add an extra hour or 2 in each direction. Instead we did a quick internet search and found the details to a trail only a few minutes away by drive and that afforded some nice views of the surrounding areas.

The hike for Wedge mountain is accessed off Highway 3 in West Coleman, Alberta. You turn onto 61st st and make a right hand turn onto 23rd Avenue which continues straight and merges into 63rd st. Follow this for several km’s and you will pass over a couple of cow grates. Keep going until you come into a large clearing/field. There will be signs of camping if there are not already other vehicles in the area. Park to the right almost immediately upon entering this clearing and you will see a small creek and bridge which is where to start the hike.

Above: (Left) Meg and Vinnie coming down what is the start of the hike, (Right): about 10-15 minutes in you hit some scree. We used a similar photo from another blog to make sure we were heading in the right direction by using landmarks in the background.

Walk over the creek on the dirt road (looks like a quad trail and/or logging road) and immediately after crossing bear left and start ascending. This is where we initially went wrong as we just followed the dirt road thinking there would be a noticeable trail. FYI there isn’t at the start and you just have to gain some elevation and then trails become more noticeable.

As you climb there is loose sharp scree as well as loose dirt/rock sections (good hiking boots recommended). Continue up the ridge of the mountain following the obvious trails you see which all intersect each other. After about an 1-1.5 hrs you should be at the top which is marked by a large wooden cross. Enjoy the views and be careful of the loose scree on the way down, there were some minor bum scrapes and near misses in our crew.

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Ev and Emil relaxing after the hike 

After the hike we drove back to West Coleman to find Star Falls, a small waterfall that was near the campground we would spend the night. Upon looking for them, we stumbled upon a campground near the trailhead which we decided to set up for the night instead. Quite, open and next to a running creek the site made for a decent nights camping and a few bevs after a hot day in the sun.

 

May long

Above: Meg enjoying the view of the lake. The levels are really low at the moment but it’s one of the few spots with enough flowing water where you can swim.

A couple of weekends ago we celebrated May Long which is notorious for cold and wet weather,  so with the bluebird sunny days that have been hitting Fernie, we decided to go camping out on Lake Koocanusa.

The first camping jaunt of the season started in town with a meet up of our crew for some coffee and to grab some last minute things at the supermarket. As the caffeine brought us to life we noticed too that town was buzzing with a palpable energy that can only be brought on by a long weekend, sun and the endless outdoor activities that Fernie has to offer. With this however brings the crowds, something we were looking to avoid so we hastily made our retreat to the road.

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I’d like to say that the trip started on a peaceful note, however I’d be lying a tad. Despite being only around an hours drive to the camp spot, the last half an hour took us through some questionable dirt roads with some decent sized water features. No worries for the rest of the group who were driving 4WD capable vehicles however a bit more concerning for my soccer mum van who despite being a formidable people mover with a hefty 3.8L V6, found it hard going. It made for an interesting drive, especially when water started appearing at my feet. I ended up having to park in an open meadow and then jumped in with Tyler for the remaining 5-10 minutes. Lucky we were camping in our tent and not the van otherwise we would’ve been lonely out in that meadow 🙂

Initial stress and anxiety over, we made camp at a secluded spot on the Kooc with only one other group in sight for the whole weekend. The rest of the afternoon was full of swims, frisbee, can-jam (a new and very exciting game) and May Long drinking. The fire started up in the early evening and raged into the morning accompanied by some good tunes and acoustic guitar by Jer and Kyle.

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The next day we were all a bit sunburnt but enjoyed the morning at the spot before heading back to town. Luckily my van made it out in one piece and I made sure to take it to the car wash the next day (the poor thing looked like it had been mud bogging, unfortunately I was not in the frame of mind to take pictures at the time).

Also in other news, Meg and I picked up a hummingbird feeder which has been popular. Simple syrup of 1 part sugar and 4 parts water seems to do the trick.

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Fernie Winter 16/17

Above: another year, another Hot Dog day 🙂

What a winter! My 4th  in Fernie and probably the most enjoyable for many reasons, but mainly the snow. Countless fun days skiing with friends and enjoying Meg’s first winter  in Fernie together added to an amazing season. Besides a cold dry period early on the white stuff kept falling, putting smiles on the faces of tourists and locals alike as cries of “best day ever” became the norm in the lift lines.

The snow banks built up to alarmingly high levels with clearing crews working over time to keep the roads safe and accessible. My own brush for clearing the car had to be replaced with the amount of times I had to sweep snow off, often multiple times a day. There were even storms that closed the highways in both directions, an avalanche path one way and asphalt turned ice rink in the other. A guy in town was even filmed ice skating down the highway with skis slung over his shoulder during the worst of it. Find it on youtube I kid you not.

Above: early season jaunt out to Silver springs for some hockey.

The precipitation continued through to Easter, bringing with it a mix of rain and snow at higher elevations which I personally would have swapped for a few more sunny spring days. Don’t get me wrong, I love the snow but at the end of a long season it’s nice to enjoy some slushy laps whilst getting a top up of much needed vitamin D. The powder days in April however were a good consolation.

Above: Digging the car out after a storm and the snow pile build up from the parking lot.

So after an epic season, the ski hill has finally shut up shop after seeing 10.77 m of snowfall, over 30 POW days and countless others with excellent riding conditions. Between working 5 days at the restaurant and getting in line for the first few chairs on the deep days, I managed close to 60 days of skiing including 8 touring days a couple of road trips to other resorts as well as a trip over to Japan for 2 weeks (for another post). All the makings of a whole lot of fun and the good kind of tired!

So with the sights now set on a great summer to come and all the biking, hiking and camping that goes along with it, enjoy a few photos looking back at the winter that was…

Skiing with Rob and Russ on Polar Peak and me coming down Cedar Bowl.

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A night spent up at Tunnel Creek Hut just outside of Fernie.

Marcus with some toe side powder in Tsugaike, Japan and Rob waist deep in Mongolia bowl, Fernie.

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Sam enjoying some Japow through the trees

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Another beautiful ride up the Polar Peak chair

 

Halloween

Back in October a great night was had for Halloween, the main difference being that I worked during the evening however I still managed to whip up a costume and have a stellar night. I worked at the pub, manning the beer and shot station but managed to roam an mingle throughout the night. Shout out to Meg for putting the man hours into sewing part of my costume, who looked awesome as Rey from Star Wars  🙂

Above left to right: Me as The Macho Man Randy Savage, two random rocketeers and Tim the sexy sax man 😀

Before the festivities of the night, our friend Eveliene had us over for some pumpkin carving earlier in the week. I settled for a fairly easy Pokemon inspired pattern whilst Meg killed it with Majoras mask from Zelda.

Back in action

Easter holiday has come and gone with Meg and I spending time up north with her family in Morinville. Apart from some great food and hangs, we were able to get some shopping done at the mall, the main purchase being a new MacBook Air laptop! I’m pretty stoked as now I can upload photos and continue with the old blog.

So the next few posts will be to catch you up on the end of Fall and what turned out to be an epic Winter…

Hiatus

Unfortunately I’m not currently able to upload any photos from my Iphone onto  my laptop, likely due to the latest software update and the fact that my 10 year old Macbook is probably less than a year away from being completely unusable as fewer and fewer applications and software are compatible with such an old system (constant pop ups and reminders inform me of this daily).

Until I find a way around this issue I won’t be able posting any new blog entries but hopefully it won’t be for long 🙂

Waterton Lakes

Last weekend Meg and I headed down south to Waterton Lake National Park for some hiking and camping action. Not wanting to drive too far to get our fix, Waterton was the perfect choice as it’s only 160km (just under a 2 hr drive) from Fernie.

We drove down on a Friday morning, stopping off in Crowsnest Pass at the Cinnamon Bear cafe for their famous cinnamon buns (have to get the cream cheese icing as well). Once in the park we head straight for the town campsite to ensure we had a nice location and pitch our tent. It was almost 2 years since I’d visited the park at the same time of year and forgot how quiet it is. More than half of the towns businesses were closed for the season and the campsite reflected this. We were only one of 3 tents pitched and so could choose the more picturesque locations.

After a brief pitstop we head straight for Red Rock Canyon, one of the most popular and troutisty of the sites in the park but one neither of us had ever visited. We opted to head into and up the canyon rather than taking the short 10 minute walk from bridge to bridge above. With ninja like precision we managed to get up and back without getting our feet too wet (parkour!!!)

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Driving back towards town, we enjoyed the fall colours amongst the mountain landscape and decided on another short hike before nightfall. Located at the visitors centre, the Bears Hump is a short 2.8km hike (225m elevation gain) up to a vantage point that offers one of the best panoramic views of the park. We knocked it out in just over half an hour and enjoyed some sunny views from the top.

Pleased with a fairly active day we stopped in at one of the few restaurants/pubs open and treated ourselves to a pint and braised short rib poutine. Quite the extravagant appetizer for our can of mushroom soup that was had for dinner later. After some food we settled in to our tent for a relatively cold night, managing to somehow zip our very differently sized mummy sleeping bags together.

We had checked the weather forecast at the pub earlier and were warned of severe thunderstorms developing overnight and in the morning. At around 5am we were woken up to the sound of fast approaching thunder, which despite being a little terrifying, sounded pretty amazing being echoed through the mountains. After a few minutes deliberation, we  decided to spend the remainder of the morning sleeping int he car til sunrise.

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Unfortunately the rain that ensued didn’t let up and after a coffee and bagel in town, we decided to abandon our plan of hiking to Bertha lake (and scrambling to the peak) and head back home. On the plus side we were able to drive through the Bison paddock on the way out and spot them grazing for a few minutes.

 

Some of Fernie Fall

Above: Meg and I up Spineback trail.

Just a few pics of what I’ve been up to so far this Fall. The ski hill has been closed for a month now and I’ve been working part-time at the local Pub in town and doing some odd jobs, mainly to keep busy. A part from that, there has been plenty of time for hiking, biking and enjoying the outdoors before the first snow arrives.

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Above: Tim, Dre, Eric and Marcus taking in the view at the top of Big Money. A bit of a slog up but worth the view and the downhill, which was a step up for me. A few falls (one big over the bars) but got down in one piece.

Meg with her homemade caramel pecan cheesecake (made by yours truly) to celebrate her 23rd birthday. Earlier in the day we had hiked the Spineback trail up at Island Lake Lodge with Jake, Tristen and Brandon who had come down for the birthday weekend. The trail was officially closed due to an aggressive moose however with safety in numbers we hiked it and had no issues or encounters with said moose.

Me, Jake and Marcus enjoying some skate n shoot action at the local rink. I had my skates sharpened just beforehand (and for the first time) and it made such a difference. We are clearly the biggest rookies on the ice however our skating and puck handling are slowly improving (slowly!). The locals are super friendly with offering tips with shooting etc and being on the ice gives you a great appreciation for how skilled the pros are.

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A nice Fall hike which we’ve done before, but happy to do again, is the trail to the Ammonite fossil. It’s one of the biggest of its kind in the world and you can see why with Meg posed next to it!

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Jonno, Marcus and Rob on the final ascent to the top of Crows Nest mountain. We hiked this a few weeks ago and had some sections of snow up to 1 foot!

Norbury Lakes

Above: Meg on the SUP, Norbury Lake BC.

A stones throw away/45 minute drive from Fernie is this quaint little lake which forms part of Norbury Lake Provincial Park. It’s a slightly longer drive than the more popular Baynes, Tie and Koocanusa lakes and also doesn’t allow motorised boats on it so therefore draws less attention and crowds. Meg and I were keen to camp but not in the backcountry so this seemed a perfect spot.

The park has a large number of campistes with easy walking access down to the lake and all equipped with fire rings/grill and a picnic bench. After picking a site, we walked down to check out the lake which was glassy clear and stunning in the afternoon sun. We got chatting to an older guy from Calgary named Tom who eventually let us have a go on his stand up paddle board to explore the lake. He definitely lived up to the polite Canadian stereotype! Meg and I enjoyed the relaxing paddle around and discussed getting a blow up version for next summer.

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We continued on to walk to Peckham’s Lake on the other side of the park, did some Loon spotting and then headed back to camp for some sausages and red wine. It was a relatively warm night and we both slept decently inside the tent, the only downside was waking up to what smelled like skunk spray. Overall a great spot for some lake time without the crowds.

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Hiking the Berg lake Trail

Situated just outside of Jasper lies Mt Robson Provincial Park, home of the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, Mt Robson, and the infamous Berg Lake Trail. The trail is one of the most popular back country hiking routes in BC offering epic mountain views and close up encounters with glaciers. It has been on my to do list since last summer so with some choice planning, myself, Marcus and his mate Jan decided to head out and spend a couple of days hiking/camping in the back country.

Marcus and I took off early from Fernie and drove the 6 hrs to Jasper, passing through Kootenay national park early on and then the Icefields parkway for the last part of the drive. Without exaggerating it was probably the most scenic drive I’ve ever taken with glaciers, lakes and snow-capped peaks around every turn. Promising to stop off to snap some pics of the drive on the way back, we drove on only stopping for fuel and reached Jasper in the mid afternoon to rendezvous with Jan at a Timmy Hortons. After picking up some final supplies we then made the drive to the Mt Robson Provincial Park visitor centre approx 84 km away. (Note: they have a gas station if you’re running low).

We hastily signed in at the front desk (as is required when camping overnight) and then went downstairs to watch the compulsory video on the national park. Like most government tourist productions, this gem had remained unchanged since the 80’s (I’m guessing) and filled us in on the general info on the park do’s and don’ts, finally concluding with some high-tech Powerpoint slide transitions and latin guitar. Slightly confused and entertained, we made a last trip to toilet to shed some extra weight before driving the 3km up the road to the trailhead car park.

We set off after 5pm with decently heavy packs in tow, heading for our campground for the night at Whitehorn, approximately 11km away. With rain and light snow forecast for the evening, we did our best to keep a good pace whilst enjoying the first portion of the hike which took us through some lush forest and around the first of many lakes, Kinney. We reached our camp after approx 2.5 hrs and managed to pitch our tents and eat some dinner just before the light had totally faded. To our luck, it was only when we were inside our tents ready for sleep that the rain started coming down.

We rose the next morning to some heavy fog and further forecast of rain and had some breakfast under the shelter provided at the camp (only a few of the campsites have a communal day use shelter). Neither of us had slept all that well due to the heavy rain and wind however still managed to muster and set off from camp around 9am. We made the decision to leave our tents pitched at Whitehorn and continue with less weight to explore for the day, this would also make our last day of hiking quicker and easier back to the vehicles. We kept spirits high talking about the usual garbage, old TV shows, weird fetishes and belting out old school 90’s dance classics including imitations of the German band Scooter. How much is the FISH!!! Siberia, the place to be!!! Jan probably wished he was hiking with other people.

Hiking in the fog we reached Emperor Falls relatively quickly and much to our surprise found the hike quite easy despite this being the steepest part of the trail. Hiking on to Berg Lake we travelled through open fields that used to be inhabited by the glaciers and even in the fog, the trail was easy to follow with several markers and cairns guiding the way. We passed the Marmot campground and reached the Berg Lake campground in quick succession, stopping for lunch and some pretty mediocre photos because of the low-lying cloud/fog.

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Emperor Falls

Optimistic however that the weather would change, and happy that we hadn’t been rained on yet, we pressed on to the Snowbird Trail to see the Robson Glacier. Pressed for time we only made it part way on this trail however were rewarded with some great views of the glacier and by the time we had hiked back to Berg Lake, the cloud had lifted and for the first time we were able to see the glacier and mountain peak. Yay us.

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We settled in for our final night after a good meal and a hot chocolate, pleased with our fortune with the weather and weary after a 30km day of hiking. The next morning we wasted no time packing up and heading back to the vehicles, Marcus taking slightly more time exhausting his supply of toilet paper in the dunny’s after consuming close to his weight in trail mix and dried fruit over the past few days.

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We finished our adventure back in Jasper having a nice lunch at the Jasper Brewing Company, recommended to us by a random we spoke to on the street. The food was delicious and not just because we had been camping for a couple of days. I settled for the Elk meatloaf and we all tucked in whilst looking at some of the photos of the trip, finally saying goodbye to Jan who had been visiting Marcus from Germany and was carrying on with his trip through BC.

All in all I’d say that Berg Lake lived up to the hype, the trail and it’s surrounds hard to beat in any part of the world. We debated that it would be better weather wise to come back in the summer under clear blue skies however this would also be the busiest time to come when in contrast we had only passed a few handfuls of people the whole trip (a trade-off we were happy with in the end). A fun and relatively easy hiking trip, I would definitely recommend to anyone who is travelling through Jasper and the Rockies!

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Final look up at Mt Robson from near the end of the trail

On a side note I was pleased with how my new gear had performed, from the ease of set up of my MSR Elixir tent to warmth of my Marmot Helium sleeping bag and the packing-power ratio of the stove and pot system (MSR pocket rocket and GSI dualist cooking set). With all these in the kit, I’m looking forward to some more camping adventures in the Fall and next summer.