Lille Ghost Town

At the tail end of summer we hiked to Lille, a ghost town located in Crowsnest Pass, which is located in Southern Alberta. The town was originally incorporated in February 1904 as a purpose-built coal mining community, and eventually grew to about 400 people. The mines in Lille closed in 1912, due to collapsing coal prices, increased production costs, and the very poor quality of the coal. The town withered away until its last person left in 1916, and the town was finally dissolved in 1919. All that remains today is the Bernard-style coke ovens that were imported from Belgium, the foundations of the Lille Hotel, and a huge pile of coal slack near the ovens. On the Bernard-style coke ovens you’ll notice a bunch of numbers, which were used to reassemble the ovens after they were transported from Belgium.

There are two options to complete this hike. If you have a low clearance car it’s suggested to hike the 15 kilometre return trip from the Frank Slide Interpretive center, however if you have a higher clearance vehicle, or are crazy like I am, then you can drive down a very bumpy unmaintained logging road to get to a grassy area, which turns the hike into a more manageable 6.3 kilometre hike. I drive a Toyota Prius, and have a lot of experience navigating high clearance roads, so I don’t recommend this in a low clearance vehicle unless you trust your skillset. Be prepared to take 20-30 minutes to drive those 9 kilometres. Overall, the hike is fairly easy, and can be completed by most people, including children.

Mist Mountain Hike

A few weeks ago Julie and I hiked Mist Mountain Springs Trail. The hike is a fairly steep one at 555 metres over only 6.4 kilometres return. It’s definitely worth it because you’re presented with a refreshing natural hot springs at the end of it. Julie had a bit of an asthma attack at the top so I solo’d it to the hot springs. The last 400 metres were fairly sketchy as they were traversing over a 30 degree shale rock face with a bunch of snow. It was certainly prime for an avalanche, and thinking back I shouldn’t have made the trek to the hot springs.

Funny story… while I planned on going into the hot springs the wind was fairly strong and the air was a bit cold so I decided to not go in… but while I was trying to take a picture of a couple I accidentally fell in and had soggy boots for the rest of the hike.

Horse Thief Canyon Hike

A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to hike down into Horse Thief Canyon, located about 16 kilometres (10 miles) Northwest of Drumheller. At the top you’re presented with spectacular views of the badlands and valley below. I decided to enter the valley below, which was quite steep and somewhat slippery due to the smooth and dry bentonite below by feet. Once I got to the bottom I followed the valley’s until I found a small dry riverbed that led towards the Lower Red Deer River. During my hike I found quite a few fragments of fossils and some bones from animals. One thing to note is there are some sections of private land here, so be respectful of the land.

Be sure to check back in a few days when I embark on a week trip to Eastern Europe. My first stop is Zagreb, Croatia.

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Horseshoe Canyon Hike

With winter quickly approaching I shifted my hiking from the Rocky Mountains to the Drumheller to have a couple good weeks of nice weather hiking before winter arrives.

I first hike I completed in the area was Horseshoe Canyon trail; a 3.9km trail with 113 metres of elevation differential. The elevation loss is all at the beginning, when you descend into the valley below. This is a lesser known badlands area around the Drumheller area, and it gets its name from its horseshoe shape, defined by two coulees that flow into the Kneehill Creek, a tributary of the Red Deer River. In 2020, a boy named Nathan Hrushkin discovered a dinosaur fossil at the canyon dating back to 69 million years.

When I was there I also stumbled upon a geocache.

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Eiffel Lake Hike

About a month ago I completed a beautiful fall hike to Eiffel Lake in Banff National Park. I’ve been wanting to do this hike for years, however have avoided it because of lack of parking at Morraine Lake, which is where the trailhead starts. The Covid-19 pandemic has presented some hiking opportunities to locals that were previously difficult to get to due to tourists. With very few tourists visiting Canada parking at the lake was possible, as well as some changes to the overflow parking lot buses. You can now book specific time slots for $11 CDN, and they’re very punctual; running every 20 minutes.

The 12.2km hike had 609 metres of elevation gain, and took me about 3 hours to complete. The hike starts off at Morraine Lake, with most of the elevation gain occurring early on with some steep switchbacks for a few kilometres. After the steep switchbacks you’re presented with a fork in the trail, go left towards Eiffel Lake. If you go right you’ll end up on the Larch Valley Trail, which I completed a few years ago.

The trail follows along a ledge, with a nice view of the Valley of the Ten Peaks surrounding you, a view of Morraine Lake, and then the larches start to appear. This is one of the prettiest hikes that I’ve ever completed. I didn’t spend much time at the lake because it was starting to snow, and becoming quite windy.

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Dry Island Buffalo Jump Hike

It’s been a while since I last made a blog post. I’ve had a tremendous amount of change happen in my life with dealing with a breakup, moving, and a refocus on travel. Since my Iceland posts I’ve travelled to Alaska, been on 4 other hikes, and I’m heading to Europe in a week. As you can see I’m quite in arrears with my posts.

In late September I visited Dry Island Buffalo Jump, which is a little known gem located near Trochu, Alberta. Before we dive into that we should talk about the beautiful drive along Highway 590. There’s a winding section near the Tolman Badland Heritage Rangeland, which I highly recommend driving through. The views are breathtaking!

When you first arrive at Dry Island Buffalo Jump there is a parking lot off to your right, which offers pristine views of the valley area below. If you only drive a 2wd vehicle I highly recommend that you ditch your vehicle here as the steep incline into the park will make it difficult for your vehicle to gain traction getting out.

I parked my car at the top and descended into the valley and explored the various pathways. Every 100 feet there was another unique perspective of the park. I highly recommend visting this park, as you will not be disspointed!

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Rowe Lake Hike

Two Weekends ago I completed a 13.5 km hike to Rowe Lakes in Waterton Lakes National Park. The hike starts off with a bunch of switchbacks through an area struck by the 2017 forest fires, before emerging to an area with a bit of shrubs, where you can look back at the mountains behind you.

Continuing on the trail you eventually come across a forested area that was untouched by the 2017 forest fire. The fall colours are starting to settle in, and become more prevalent the higher you climb.

You’ll come to a T intersection about 2/3 of the way through the hike; go left to Lower Rowe lake. The beauty of the mirror reflection on the lower lake is absolutely stunning! After enjoying the view head back to the T and go left to continue along the hike.

You’ll come to a valley surrounded by mountains. To your North you’ll see Mount Lineham. Carry along the trail to Upper Rowe Lake. This part is the steepest on the trail, with plenty of switchbacks.

At last you’ll arrive at Upper Rowe Lake, which seems like a little oasis in the mountains. The clouds were absolutely perfect and I imagine it would look stunning in the 3rd and 4th weeks of September with all the larches changing colour.

After appreciating the view of Upper Rowe Lake I headed back to my car, and drove into Waterton to have some poutine at Wieners of Waterton, which I highly recommend. Besides it was only $7!

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Arethusa Cirque Hike

Last weekend I drove to Arethusa Cirque in Kananaskis for a quick 1.5 hour hike along the 4.5 kilometer trail. During the hike you gain 378 metres, but most of its towards the middle of the loop. Apparently the trail features a waterfall, however there was no water visible when I went. I suspect the waterfall is present only during the spring runoff.

The hike starts off through a heavily forested area, before emerging into a valley surrounded by Little Arethusa, Mount Arethusa, and Storm Mountain. You’ll then climb a few switchbacks, which gives you some outstanding views of the trees below. The trees are mostly larches, so be sure to visit on the 3rd of 4th weeks of September to get the full fall effect with the colour changes.

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Crypt Lake Hike

A few weeks ago I hiked one of Canada’s top 10 hikes, if not one of the best in the world. Crypt Lake, located in Waterton Lakes National Park, is a difficult 20.4 km hike with an elevation gain of 936 metres. To access the hiking trail you’ll need to take the Shoreline Ferry across Waterton Lake, about a 15 minute journey, which costs $30 per person.

After exiting the ferry the hike starts off right away with a bunch of switchbacks in a forested area. Grizzly bears frequent this area so this is a very critical hike to have bear spray on.

About 1/4 way through the hike you’ll finally emerge from the trees for a bit, where you’ll spot a waterfall off to your right. It’s quite pretty so be sure to snap a photo.

Continuing along the trail you’ll encounter numerous more switchbacks, with the treeline thinning out around 1/2 way along the hike. You’ll then see the second waterfall off into the distance.

About 3/4 of the way through the hike you come across a narrow ledge, about 300 metres long, which you must carefully traverse. After traversing the ledge you’ll find a small ladder, which you ascend, and then have a ~100 metre long tunnel which you must crawl through. Be careful to not smack your head like I did.

After emerging from the tunnel you’ll have a fairly technical 300 metres section with a bunch of chains. Just take your time as any mistake could result in a plunge to your death many hundreds of metres below. It’s not hard physically, but it is a bit nerve wracking.

After the chained section its a mostly flat hike to the lake. At Crypt Lake I changed into my bathing suit and carefully stepped into the freezing cold water. The water here was much colder than that of Carnarvon Lake the previous week.

After enjoying my time at the lake it was time to head back to catch the ferry back. There are two times the return ferry sails at. Make sure you get back in time, because it’s a tremendously long hike back (6+ hours) if you miss it. The times vary from season to season so be sure to check on their website. The hike took me just over 5 hours to complete.

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Helen Lake & Katherine Lake Hike

Recently I hiked to Helen Lake and Katherine Lake with Mariah. The hike is considered a moderate hike, and is 16.6 kilometres return, with about 840 metres of elevation gain. The hike starts off in a forested area for for few steep kilometres, before emerging in a beautiful alpine meadow. The meadow continues steadily upwards until you emerge at Helen Lake, and are also presented with the beautiful Dolomite Mountains creatively named Dolomite Peak.

Upon arriving at Helen Lake we were presented with a plethora of bugs which incessantly tried to eat us while we had our lunch.

After having our lunch there was some grueling switchbacks and some minor scrambling before arriving in a flat area overlooking Cirque Peak and Katherine Lake. The views were stunning and we took it all in before heading back to the trailhead.

Dinner was had at 514 Poutine in Canmore. We both had a small Montreal smoked meat poutine, which was exactly what I was craving. This place has been closed the entirety of COVID-19, and is one of my favourite places for poutine. I was missing the delicious flavours!

Be sure to stay tuned for more hiking adventures!

If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards the upkeep of my site, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.