One of the busiest weekends of the summer is coming up. And that means the hiking trails will be busy. Lake Louise, Banff, Jasper will be full. Why not get off the beaten track a bit and head to Glacier National Park?? It is just 45 minutes or so west of Golden and Vagabond Lodge. The hikes there are outstanding. They are all pretty tough but the payback is worth it. It will be busy no doubt but at least you won't be "bumper to bumper "so to speak as you will be in Banff.
One of my favourite in the area is Balu Pass which starts just behind the information centre at the top of Rogers Pass. Along with some friends, we did it a couple summers ago. It is about 6 hours return and winds its way through a beautiful valley with all sorts of waterfalls and wildlife. Balu means Grizzly Bear and we did spot one across the valley. He saw us and wandered away into the trees. It is a hike you usually have to do with at least 4 people. Amazing views from the top especially.
This video will give you an idea of the hike.
We have many gems in our area. One of them is the Columbia River which flows by the Golden. The Columbia is one of the major rivers in North America and we are just a couple hours from the headwaters of this river that eventually makes its way through Washington State and Oregon and into the Pacific Ocean. We have a special spot on the Columbia south of Golden called the wetlands. When the water level is high, which it is now, it overflows its banks and takes over the entire valley in a number of small tributaries, small lakes and marshlands. If you are into bird watching and wildlife viewing this spot is amazing.
A family operation called Columbia Wetlands Adventures has a great spot on the Columbia about 20 minutes or so south of Golden where they will take guests on a wetlands float trip, or rent them canoes, kayaks and standup paddle boards. A few days ago, 6 of us went for a canoe trip in the area. One of the owners, Chris loaded up the canoes and us in a van and drove us about 10 minutes further south where we put into the river at Parson. From there we basically paddled and drifted along for about 2 and a half hours before making our way into a lake which is formed by the river. They gave us a map and there are some ribbons and markers along the way to point us in the right direction. Anchored in the lake is a raft which we tied up and jumped into the water for a swim before having a picnic. From there it was a short canoe trip back to the starting point. Overall it took us about 4 hours. If you are in the area this is a can't miss experience.
The weather has been heating up in the past week and the snow in the upper elevations is melting which means the hiking is getting better and better. Yesterday we went for another ridge hike at Kicking Horse. This time we headed north from the top of the gondola. There is a game trail (lots of signs of mountain goats) that we followed below the ridge for about an hour where it ends at a slide path. After a short break we scrambled up to the ridge which takes about 15 minutes. It's a pretty easy scramble with lots of moss covered rocks and wild flowers. And once you are at the top you can just follow the ridge back to the gondola again. Over-all our hike was about 2 and a half hours and the views are stunning. The photo is from the top of the Stairway to Heaven chairlift on our way back with the gondola and the Eagle's Eye Restaurant in the middle of the frame looking south down the Columbia Valley.
Ken along with his wife Lori are the owners and operators of Vagabond Lodge at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.