Colorado – Day 2 – Maroon Bells

Today our main highlight was hiking in Maroon Bells. Maroon Bells is Colorado’s premier fall hiking location, featuring Maroon Lake surrounded by mountains and beautiful fall foliage. The area gets its name from two 14000 mountains named Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak. Maroon Bells is only about a 30 minute drive from Aspen.

We arrived around 7:50am, as the parking lot closes at 8:00am. We had to reserve our spot, which we did over six months ago. While we were there we completed two hikes; The Scenic Loop Trail (3 Miles, 120 feet Elevation), and The Crater Lake Trail (3.6 Miles, 500 feet Elevation). 

The Scenic Loop follows the North side of Maroon Lake, and loops around on the West side.

The Crater Lake Trail essentially follows the same route, around the lake, but then branches off on the West side of the lake and continues through the Valley until you reach Crater Lake.

It was about 11am when we finished the two hikes. We drove back to our hotel to grab a cup of coffee, and our bathing suits, before heading out again.

Next stop was The Grotto Trail, about a 20 minute drive the other direction from our lodging in Aspen. It was back the same we drove in from yesterday. The Grottos Trail features an ice cave, smooth cascading granite from the water running over it for thousands of years, and a beautiful cascading waterfall. The hike isn’t very hard and only takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. It was pouring rain for the majority of the hike, but was worth it.

Next stop was Glenwood Hot Springs Pool located in Glenwood Springs. The area was originally inhabited by Indigenous people before Americans colonized the area. Glenwood Springs, originally known as Defiance, was established in 1883 as a camp of tents, saloons and brothels. The town was founded by Isaac Cooper. The town was mostly populated with gambles, gunslingers, and prostitutes, and stayed as a small encampment until the larger mining town of Carbonate lost its position as a county seat, until some bribery occurred to shut down the post office in Carbonate, and moved the post office to Glenwood Springs. The city then thrived and became the main town where miners in the area lived.

The therapeutic springs waters, called Yampah, also known as Big Medicine by the aboriginals (Ute Native Americans) were used as a sacred place of healing since atleast the 1860’s. In 1890 the original red sandstone bathhouse and lodge was built for $100000. It was designed by Austrian architect Theodore von Rosenberg, who’s buildings I have definitely seen before in Vienna. The bathhouse features tubs, vapor baths, a ladies parlor, physicians office, gymnasium, smoking rooms, and reading rooms. The building houses 44 bathing rooms. The main pool is 405 feet long by 105 feet wide and contains 1.07 million gallons of water that is kept at 32° C. The hot “therapy” pool is 100 feet long by 105 feet wide and contains 91000 gallons of water kept at 40° C.

During World War II the resort Hotel Colorado and Hot Springs Bathhouse) was exclusively used as a US Naval Convalescent Hospital. It was the only time in history that the bathhouse was closed to the public. In 1970 an upgraded water filtration system was installed to filter the 3.5 million gallons per day of 52° C water. In 1986 a 107 room lodge was built on the North side of the pool.

After visiting the pool we walked around the town for a bit before driving back to our hotel.

Once we were back at the hotel we walked to White House Tavern, where I had a delicious chuck steak burger, and dad had a French beef dip sandwich. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and chatting before it was time to go to bed.

Sunshine Meadows Hike

A few weeks ago I had the chance to finally hike in Sunshine Meadows, a beautiful alpine setting located slightly Southwest of Banff. Sunshine Meadows has been closed since the beginning of COVID, two and a half years ago.

To get to Sunshine Meadows you take a gondola from the base (1659 masl) to the Sunshine Village Terminal (2159 masl). The 4.5km gondola ride is fairly unique because it has two curves, and a mid-station, all while staying on the same cable! The highest point of the gondola is 40 metres (130 feet). The gondola was opened in 2001, and includes 165 8-passenger cabins, four garbage carriers, and one work carrier. A few fun facts, are that there was an accident in 2016 when two empty gondola cars came off the cable in high winds and crashed to the ground, and in June 2013 nine of their cabins were washed away during the Alberta Flood that occurred because they were getting painted, and were washed away. They were all found, and one nearly had made its way all the way to Canmore!

After arriving at Sunshine Village you’re given a quick orientation on the trail system, and then you’re off on your own. After a seven minute ride on the Standish Chairlift you arrive at the very top of the hike, where you’re presented with gorgeous 360 degree views of the mountains surrounding you. There’s beautiful alpine flowers all around!

Normally my hikes start at the lowest point, and end up on a mountain peak, but this hike is the inverse of that. The 2.5 hour hike starts with a steep descent towards Rock Isle Lake, before continuing on a loop around Grizzly Lake and Laryx Lake, before heading back up to the top. It’s amazing at how much the scenery changes as you progress through he hike.

The was one of my favourite hikes that I’ve done in Canada, and is a great family friendly hike, that isn’t too difficult. The 2.5 hour hike has 316 metres of elevation differential over 8.0 kilometres.

Wedgemount Lake Hike

The next day I woke up at 7am and drove the 2 hour to the Wedgemount Lake parking lot. Wedgemount Lake is located in Garibaldi Provincial Park. This was the hardest hike that I’ve ever completed in my entire life, but it was surely worth it. The hike was a brutal 1362 metres of elevation gain over only 12.6km return. My body hurt for 5 days after! At the top you’re presented with beautiful alpine lake views! Make sure to stick around if it’s socked in with fog, because it clears fairly routinely.

After the hike I drove four hours to Kamloops and checked in to the Pacific Inn & Suites. While the beds were comfortable you can tell the hotel was in need of some love, which included the pool area being turned into a hookah storage area. Normally these rooms go for $150-200 per night, however I only paid $30 in taxes because I had a free stay voucher.

After some much needed sleep I woke up and could barely walk due to muscles being tense from the hike the day before. I started the 8 hour journey back to Calgary with a stop in Revelstoke at a favourite location (La Baguette) for breakfast. I had a delicious turkey pesto sandwich.

Joffre Lakes Hike

Two weeks ago I drove out to Western British Columbia to do some hiking at Joffre Lakes and Wedgemount Lake. I took four days off from work and drove out on a Thursday to Pemberton, British Columbia. Upon arrival I hit-up a local brewery (Pemberton Brewing Company) for a flight of beers, grabbed some groceries for hiking food for the next day from the local grocery store, before checking into my hotel; The Hitching Post Motel. The motel was a bit of a blast to the past with carpeted window sills, cigarette smell, and generally run down, but it was the “nicest” place to stay in the area for under $200 per night. After having a sound sleep I woke up around 7am and had a ham and cheese sandwich with the groceries that I had purchased the day before, before gathering my stuff and hopping into my car to drive 30 minutes to Joffre Lakes.

Joffre Lakes hike is a medium difficulty hike with 493 metres of elevation gain over a 8.5 kilometre round trip. The hike only took me about 2.25 hours to complete. The government staff at the base of the hike were surprised at how fast I completed it because it usually takes 4 hours.

After completing the hike I drove to Lillooet, got some groceries and ate at the Lillooet Cookhouse Restaurant for dinner. They didn’t have much of a selection so I had nacho poutine. Accommodation was at Hotel DeOro; a complete surprise because it was just recently taken over my new management and they were great. The hotel was exceptionally clean, beds super comfortable, and the staff super friendly. During the evening I explored the old Lillooet Suspension Bridge, which was built in 1913. It spans 161 metres over the Fraser River. The bridge served a long life carrying traffic until 1981 when the Bridge of Twenty-Three Camels was completed. The suspension bridge was eventually decommissioned and in 2003, the District of Lillooet and the British Columbia Ministry of Transport restored the bridge as a pedestrian-only crossing.

Be sure to check back tomorrow when I hike Wedgemount Lake!

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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Kain Hut Hike

A few weeks ago I hiked to Kain Hut in British Columbia’s Bugaboos, and I can’t even describe with words of how beautiful of a hike this was. This was one of the most stunning hikes that I’ve had the chance to complete in my life. The drive from Calgary is about 6-6.5 hours, regardless of what Google Maps says; so I recommend staying overnight in Radium. You can take the time to even soak in the hot springs when you arrive in Radium. The drive from Calgary to Radium is about 3-3.25 hours. The drive from Radium to the trailhead is still honestly 3ish hours despite the distance not being too far, because you have about 50km down a fairly poor gravel road, with the last 10km barely being able to keep a crawling speed. I was the only sedan here, as the other vehicles were SUV’s or trucks. When you’re about 2km from the trailhead you start to see the magnificent view of the glacier that you’ll be hiking towards.

Once you park your vehicle make sure to use the provided wood, barbed wire, and rocks to surround your vehicle, as there are porcupines in the area that will chew your brake lines and electrical wires, leaving your vehicle useless.

The first kilometre of the hike is fairly flat and easy, however you’re quickly presented with a series of switchbacks, a ladder, and some chains on your way up to the hut. The return trip to Kain Hut, including Applebee Campground, is 9km and 991 metres of gain. This one will leave you sore for a few days afterwards.

At the hut I had some leftover home made pizza for lunch and watch this little guy eating his lunch.

After lunch I continued up to Applebee Campground, which is essentially a scramble up loose rocks. You’ll pass a waterfall, and the campground, before arriving at a very cold lake.

After enjoying some time at the top it was time to head back to Calgary. I didn’t arrive back in town until nearly 10pm at night.

Be sure to stay tuned for my next adventure. I’ll be hiking to Eiffel Lake on Sunday, and then I’m off to Alaska for a week.

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.