Sunday, July 30, 2006

fun in them thar hills!!! - Carthew Pass and Akamina Ridge Hikes in Waterton National Park, Canada.

it has been a long, long, time since i walked in the mountains. when my friend, ahmed, called me a couple of weeks ago about the possibility of traveling to waterton national park for a couple of days of hiking, i jumped at the chance. i packed up my boots and "walking sticks" and off we went last wednesday.

what a great time in a very beautiful park.

Carthew Summit/Alderson Lake...
on thursday, i set off alone to tramp the 20 km trail from cameron lake to the townsite via carthew summit and alderson lake. it's a great classic hike in the park. very popular. the vistas were far and wide.

carthew pass, to the right of the horizon, was the "crux". it looks a bit daunting from a distance but pretty easy to surmount.

3 hrs from cameron lake (the start), i reached carthew summit, a knobby hill that forms the southern point of the pass, for lunch...

look!! akira kurosawa (center) was at the summit as well. i don't know who that dude was in the background. mountains in the background are in the american glacier national park.

where ever i go, a crowd gathers. but, here of all places?! this is a friendly group of minnesotans... to the left is the knife-like edge of carthew pass.

heading down to carthew lakes... them red hills are made of a 1.5 billion y.o. rock called argillite. fascinating...i thought i was on mars.

them's are the lakes!!! purdy, eh? waterton townsite is about 10 km and 1000 m down the valley. if it weren't so hazy, you could make out the prairies in the upper right hand corner of the pic.

after a knee jarring downhill jaunt from carthew lakes, i arrived at alderson lake. from here it was a long walk through a grizzly bear infested forest back to town.

Akamina Ridge...Forum Lake to Wall Lake.

on friday, ahmed and i tackled the 20 K akamina ridge walk.

the ridge, which is actually in BC, was one of the most incredible, mindblowing walks i've ever done. it gave us brilliant views of glacier national park (montana to the south) and waterton.

the guide book and BC parks service recommended that ridge be best walked by experienced hikers. pffft. i didn't think so. yes, there was a bit of scrambling to attain the ridge proper but it wasn't so bad. my advice to anyone of average fitness or better: go.

peaceful forum lake. akamina ridge is far above the lake.

ahmed having a snack, along with 10 other friends (they had cheezies and really annoying loud walkie talkies), at forum lake. to gain the ridge proper, our immediate goal was that low notch in the background.

this is the swell view of wall lake in the next valley once we climbed to the crest of the low notch. akamina ridge is in plain view high above. holy crap. that view was a little intimidating. the walk would take us clear across the top of this pic.

not so intimidating after minor scrambling to the ridge. here was ahmed walking along the broad slopes of scree and stunted vegetation. waterton is in the background. nice easy walking if it weren't for the gale force winds. in short bursts, the wind would pick up large pieces of rock, throwing them metres at a time. the wind sounded like a locomotive was coming at us.

akamina ridge in its glory. along the way, we had to scramble up 4 peaks (about 100 m each and not too difficult) each separated by stretches of broad ridge. we ate lunch here backs to the wind and clutching our flimsy sandwiches...

on the way up peak #1. wall lake far below. waterton national park in the background.

ahmed on peak #2. montana on the left.

peak #2. mindblowing vistas of montana.

akira kurosawa on peak #4. wall lake below. waterton to the rear. the ridge nearly complete on the right. it looked really daunting at the beginning but turned out to be a piece of cake. ha!

after 4 hrs. from atop the ridge, we rapidly descended to the clear waters of wall lake -- apparently BC parks doesn't believe in switchbacks, eh). the ridge is high above. i think we got back to the car at 1930h. ten hours of amazing hiking!!!

my suggestions: carry at least 2 L of drinking water (one frozen litre), start early to escape some of the high velocity winds, don't walk too close to the edge, and go for a refreshing dip in wall lake.

i'll share more photos in the next little while.


soapyDave said...

sounds and looks like an amazing trip! amazing also that you weren't grizzly food. nice pics!

The Dharma Bum said...

Those are phenomenal photos! I especially like the one of Forum Lake. Incredible!

bubba said...

soapydave, how's the house! to tell you the truth, i've never seen a wild bear before. however, i did see a bear by the side of the road after the akamina walk. it was munching on buffalo berries. that was a first as well. thanx for the nice words.

dharma, thanx for the kind words. forum lake was a beauty. however, my pix just don't live up to the real thing. u should get out there. it's fantastic!!!

Dillan said...

Looks like lots of fun, Al. It's great living in Canada, isn't it? Great job on the pics!

bubba said...

thanx dillan. i luv canada more than you'll ever know.