Thursday, 11 September 2008

Hiking Trails - Bryant Creek Trail to Lake Magog - Day 2 of 10

This post belongs to the first series of hikes, which is a 10-day backpacking trip from Kananaskis, along the Continental Divide to Yoho National Park. Today’s post covers the second day.

Bryant Creek to Magog Lake – moderate – 15 km – 7 hours

[1] As I am posting this in September the safety concerns with wild animals rise at this time of year in the National and Provincial parks. For bears it begins in August through to the end of September. Hikers’ chances of running into a bear on the trails are higher at this time of year. Berry bushes are found throughout the parks, often bordering trails, roads and campgrounds. Both black and grizzly bears are zeroing in on this critical food source now.

[2-Grizzly sow with cub - click to enlarge] It is easy to surprise a bear that is focused on eating berries. To reduce the risk of a bear encounter: make lots of noise while hiking or cycling on trails. Travel in groups of more than four.

Carry bear spray and know how to use it.

Bear spray was discussed in the comment section of Day 1. Watch for fresh bear sign. Be especially careful near buffaloberry patches. If you see a bear, back away slowly and leave the area. NEVER RUN.

[3-Bull elk bugling]

Another animal to be wary of at this time of year is the Elk as it is ELK RUT SEASON. Elks mate in Banff National Park and in the Canadian Rockies during September and October. Bull Elk become extremely aggressive while protecting their harems. These animals are under stress, and male elk may charge without warning at anyone and anything that gets too close.

The best thing for hikers to do is to keep a good distance from elk, at least 30 metres or three bus lengths, while viewing them. Never get between a male and the females. Report all conflicts between people and elk to the Banff Warden Office.

13.6 km (8.5 miles) — Bryant Creek Warden Cabin Elevation: 1,815 metres (6,050 feet)

From Bryant Creek, the route turned left at Bryant's Warden Lodge with its corral and additional shower/sauna shack to contour up past Marvel Lake, a long turquoise glacial lake set in a lodge pole pine forest valley.

[4 - Marvel Lake]

The trail to Wonder Pass branches off to the left at the Bryant Creek Warden Cabin (at 14.3 km). Keep following Bryant Creek past the Bryant Creek Warden's Cabin. After passing beside swampy meadow land, you will cross a stream near the BR17 campground (17.5 km). The Assiniboine Pass Trail splits at this point into a Hiker's Trail (to the right) and a Horse Trail (to the left-the Horse Trail is the winter route). The Hiker's Trail on the North side of the pass is more gradual than the Horse Trail, but it adds 1.5 km onto your trip.

[5-Brewster Creek Valley] If you take the Hiking Trail, you will pass the Brewster Creek/Og Pass/Allenby Pass Junction at 18 km. Keep Left. The Hiking and Horse Trail join below the summit of Assiniboine Pass (at 22.4 km). Please note that from August 1 to September 30 the Hiking Trail access on Assiniboine Pass will be restricted to groups of 4 or more and you must get a special permit in Banff to use this route during those times. This closure is part of the Allenby Pass restricted access policy to reduce exposure by hikers to grizzly bears feeding on buffalo berries at this time. You do not need a special permit August 1-September 30, 2008 to hike on the Horse Trail to Assiniboine Pass.

Although the Assiniboine Pass [2,130m (7,100 ft)] is the easiest, shortest and most sheltered way into Lake Magog and Mount Assiniboine, the Wonder Pass Trail is the most scenic.

22.4 km (14.0 miles) — Wonder Pass. Elevation: 2,395 metres (7,850 feet)
Topographical Maps: Spray Lakes Reservoir 82N/14 and Mount Assiniboine 82J/13

[6-Wonder Peak and meadow]

Wonder Peak [2,852m (9,357ft)] is located on the continental divide in the Marvel Lake Valley; eastern buttress of Wonder Pass on the border of Banff and Assiniboine parks at the Alberta/BC border. Major headwaters are the Bow and Kootenay rivers to the south. The view from the summit inspires “wonder”.

[7-Marvel Lake and Mount Gloria from Wonder Pass Trail]

[8-Steep trail to Wonder Pass]

The Wonder Pass Trail connects with the Bryant Creek Trail at the Bryan Creek Warden’s Cabin. This trail traverses a number of large avalanche slopes on the southern flanks of Wonder Peak before connecting with the Marvel Pass Trail, going along the west end of Marvel Lake. The scenery on this route is quite spectacular. As you hike upward in a series of switchbacks to the top you can view where glaciated peaks send cascades of water to the turquoise blue waters of Lake Gloria below.

[9-The rear of Mt. Assiniboine and Gloria Lake from Wonder Pass viewpoint]

Mount Magog [3,095m (10,155ft)] is located on the continental divide between Lake Gloria and Lake Magog; 1.5 km northeast of Mount Assiniboine.

From Wonder Pass there are superb views of the peaks and glaciers at the head of Marvel Lake and a fantastic view north all the way to the mountains around Sunshine Meadows where this hike is headed.

[10-Wonder Pass view south]

[11-Wonder Pass]

A gentle descent leads down past Gog Lake to Lake Magog at the foot of Mount Assiniboine [3,618m (11,871ft.). There are cabins in the woods by the lake, which are rented out by the Forest Service (there is a warden here) on a first-come, first-served basis, and private accommodation, bookable in advance, at Assiniboine Lodge. Across the lake is a campground.

[12-Mt. Assiniboine Lodge]

[13- Mt. Assiniboine Cabins]

[14-Inside Mt. Assiniboine Lodge]

26.8 km (16.8 miles) — Lake Magog Campground. Elevation: 2,130 metres (7,100 feet)

The trail to Mount Assiniboine Lodge and the Naiset Huts is well-signed. The Naiset Huts for campers are a five-minute walk beyond Assiniboine Lodge (500 metres). The Naiset Huts have a reservation system in the summer managed by Assiniboine Lodge ($20.00 per person per night if you pre-reserve). There will be a custodian on duty. If you have not reserved, you can check at the Naiset Huts to see if there is any drop-in space available.

[15] The Magog Campground is a 20 minute walk west beyond Assiniboine Lodge along the rim of Lake Magog. The campgrounds cost $5.00 per person/per night. The Magog and Og Campground have a self-registration system.

For more information about lodging rates and reservations for Assiniboine Lodge as well as helicopter fly-in rates please see the link on the side bar under CONSERVATION AND NATURE.

You must register in at Assiniboine Lodge if you have a reservation for the Hind Hut (for climbers)

The largest and most popular camping area in the park is located on a bench above the west side of Lake Magog. This campground has 29 tent pads, a semi-enclosed cooking shelter, an open-air cooking area, several food storage lockers, 2 grey water pits, 3 water taps, and 5 outhouses. A fee of $5 per person per night is charged. This is a first-come-first-served campground, with overflow camping available if all tent sites are occupied. The main camping area is on a bench above the west side of Lake Magog. Fees of $5 per person per night are charged. Open fires are prohibited. A reminder for campers to take care with storing food in bear safe lockers and keeping everything else, especially your boots which porcupines will gnaw for the salt from your sweaty feet, in the tent.

[Lake Magog, Mt. Magog, Mt. Assiniboine "Matterhorn of the Canadian Rockies"]

Continued next Thursday

Research: Parks Canada,, wikipedia, Alicia Porter (hiker).

Photo Credits: [1]-openg CC=nc-nd-flickr, [2]-kiwehowin CC=nc-sa-flickr, [3]-Murray Feist CC=flickr, [4]-duanephoto99 CC=nd-flickr, [5][6][7][8][10][11][12][13][15]-totten_photos CC=nc-nd-flickr, [9]-Scott Rollins with permission, [14]-Rick McCharles CC=flickr,


gary rith said...

It is like you torture us with shots of these beautiful places...

laughingwolf said...

seems blacks kill more folk than do griz, and one is always in danger of death/injury from other critters, deer and wapiti included

more great pics, barbara....

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm all agog at Lake Magog. So beautiful. You'd feel you were seeing the first cool morning of the world if you were standing there.

Man these word verification things can be obnoxious. Third attempt at posting.

BernardL said...

Very well done post with detailed precautions, Barbara.

Barbara Martin said...

Gary, all I am doing is reminding people that we have beautiful wilderness areas to be visited and appreciated before they are gone.

Tony, I am more concerned with what harm a human could do to me. When a hiker or visitor to a park or natural area enters that environment they are expected to adhere to the wildlife way of things. Not the other way around.

Barbara Martin said...

Charles, Lake Magog with the mountains behind is one of most photographed scenes in the Canadian Rockies that packs such an impact to the viewer.

I, too, have trouble with the verifications on other sites, but it's because I cannot always read the letters crowded in together. But it prevents unwanted comments on my blog.

Bernard, there are hazards in many outdoor activities which have to be presented if one writes about it. I wish I did not have to put in the precautions. Even writing blogs promoting outdoor activities can lead to a liability suit. Litigations abound in astonishing numbers over simple things like this. Very sad.

By putting in these precautions, it may seem the wilderness is a very dangerous place. It can be for the person visiting if they are not alert in their surroundings, that they come accidently across a bear and its food or any other animal by surprise.

It is always an excellent idea to do research about whatever activity one is going to do to find out about the hazards that may be incurred. Which is why I have placed information links in the sidebar for those readers who desire more information.

J. L. Krueger said...

Stunning Pictures!

Mountains are my favorite place. Great warnings. I've seen people do absolutely stupid things around animals in the wild.

I agree with you that I worry more about running into a nut-case human than any animal. The animals are far more predictable.

Bernita said...

Magnificent photos, Barbara.

Anonymous said...

Makes me feel like going for a hike tomorrow. Thanks for sharing your photos. I'll be back to read more of your blog later.


alex keto said...

I've always wanted to go to the Canadian Rockies. Sounds like a very good trail. I'm going to browse the rest of the site now,