I have wanted to do the trek from the Top of Kicking Horse Resort to Gorman Lake for a number of years. And yesterday we tried and almost made it.
There were 6 of us in the group. Besides wife Lori, we were joined by son Kori and his fiancé Elaine and neighbours Bob and Annie. We had talked to a neighbour who had done it a month ago and it had taken him 6 hours solo, so we felt 8 hours should be enough extra time. Not!!
The best thing I have ever done in my life was two days before the hike, Bob and I were talking about the hike and I had the brainwave of getting a helicopter to pick us up at the other end.
Normally you need to take a car to the parking area below Gorman Lake the night before or have someone come and pick you up. Even that trip is an adventure down a forestry road that requires 4 wheel drive and is about an 1 hour drive from Vagabond Lodge. I phone a couple of helicopter companies in Golden and Alpine quoted me $500 pickup for 6 people which was a great price.
We started the hike from Vagabond shortly after 10 am going up on the gondola to the top of Kicking Horse. There really is no trail except but it is pretty straight forward for the most part. You just follow the ridge north as much as you can. Golden Hikes has a bit of a break down of the hike which we took with us. Some of it was useful but others not.
This trek is very difficult and involves a lot of walking or tip toeing through huge rock slides. It is slow going and tiring because you can't relax or you end of twisting an ankle and who knows.
The trek takes you up to the top of mountain peaks and then down and then back up again. The views are stunning and rugged.
But one of the toughest parts, was a huge slope we had to go up which was a meadow.
It looked very inviting after what we had done but in order to get to the pass that would take us into Holt Lakes we had to go down into Canyon Creek which is the backside of Kicking Horse Resort, cross a small creek and then go straight up the huge grassy slope. This turned out to be one of the biggest challenges. It was more sheltered so it was hot and the horseflies were all over you when you stopped. And it was steep. It took us a good hour or more of steady climbing and drained all of us. It was also the only place we saw any signs of wildlife. There were a few elk just below us at one point. Other than that, nothing.
The one bench mark we were aiming for was Holt Lakes which is a spectacular spot in the world. Two pristine lake that lay hidden in a little valley almost untouched by humans. At that point we knew we were about 2 hours from the pickup area.
We managed to get to the pass above Holt Lakes about 5.30 pm and realized there was no way we were going to get to our pickup spot on the ridge between Holt Lakes and Gorman in an hour an a half.
We made the decision to head to Holt Lakes down a huge slide area which took us over an hour of very tough going. All the rocks were smaller and you had to be so careful going down. As the sun was starting to go behind the mountain to the west, we didn't want to wait too long on the ridge and then be forced to go down in the dark in the worst case scenario.
About 6:45 the helicopter was doing a circuit looking for us because we were not at our pickup area.
Obviously we were concerned he may not be able to see us where we were.
We had given Annie a hard time earlier because she always carries a mirror for make-up no matter where she is going. Even on a hike.
Well that mirror is what enabled Mark from Alpine Helicopters to see us and about 7.15 he set down at Holt Lake (still 2 hours away from our pickup area).
A few minutes later he set us down across the road from Vagabond Lodge and a few minutes later we were downing 2 pitchers of beer and having dinner at Peaks Grill at the Resort.
A few things I would certainly do, if I ever(not a chance) do this trek again.
It was an amazing experience. Would I do it again?? No. It is just too tough of a trek with way too many variables. Am I glad I did it?? Absolutely. Trek of a life-time.
Ken along with his wife Lori are the owners and operators of Vagabond Lodge at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
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