The goal: three days, three hikes: the triumvirate in the Purcells. Right!
Simon and I packed for car camping, which involved lots of cooking, a very large cooler, blocks of ice and a u-turn on the highway when I said, “Hey! Maybe we should bring pillows!” At that point, Simon also thought to bring our camping chairs.
And so, having dropped Abby off with Heather and having loaded Shanara into the back of the truck, we set off for Nakusp where we bought fruit and then drove to Trout and Duncan Lakes.
We arrived at Glacier Creek campground late afternoon, set up in a spot by the lake and proceeded to be appalled by the site. Let me explain: I know about back country camping: the peace, the serenity. At Glacier Creek, people got around on golf carts (!) and had the backs of their trucks loaded with ATVs, dirt bikes, cook tents, 6-packs of beer and jugs of wine.
Oh well – we are only there to sleep.
Peter arrived that evening and after supper, we retired to our various accommodations. Up early. Simon headed off with Shanara for a day of beaches and walks. (turns out he did Davis Creek twice and swam 3 hours with the dog). Peter and I set off to Macbeth Icefields – the shortest drive and the longest hike. As promised it started off with tight, steep switchbacks – then a long reprieve: flat hiking through towering huckleberry bushes by a roaring stream. Yes – making lots of noise.
After that we went up through a virgin forest that eventually crested an outcropping where we could see the falls.
I should also mention that we hiked over, under and around a s&%tpile of blowdown, up one slightly wonky ladder and one awkward rope assist. Bridges – don’t be fooled by the first steel structure – the rest were logs of various shapes and sizes.
Nevertheless, we made it to the rocks with gorgeous coloured bands and then up the moraine ridge, which was lovely going. Then there was the unnecessary boulder field because we missed the cairn and hell – it’s always boulder fields, right?
And then there we were at the head of the gorge. Now what? Peter spotted a cairn in the exact place we’d been contemplating scrambling to the top of the final ridge. Excellent! And there it was – a bootbeaten path marked with cairns. Easy-peasy.
Up we went – whew. Did I mention hot? Hottest day of the year so far – 35 degrees.
And then we topped the ridge and it was two hundred wows. Yeah – what a sight – the icefield! I’ll let the pictures do it justice. Words can’t.
We spent more than half an hour up there – hard to tear ourselves away. But then we had to and started the long, long, long trek back. Did I mention long? We did the round trip in just under 9 hours. We could have done it in less. But why?
And now: day 2:
Simon, Shanara and I set off for Jumbo Pass early after having a good “camp” sleep. And let me say just one thing on the plus side of front country camping – you do get to eat real food!
The trail started off fairly steep in the forest and slogged uphill. When we finally broke out – yes it was gorgeous. Truly beautiful. I’m an alpine junkie and this delivered alpine in monster-sized doses. We had meadows and larches and views (albeit a touch hazy but not bad). We rolled up and down over the meadows until we arrived at the alpine hut in a jewel-like setting above a big mountain tarn and below a tempting rocky ridge.
Shanara tore down the hill and threw herself into that water. We bathed in the glory of the views and then set out to top the ridge. Once again, it was hot, the trail was dusty but the views opened up and up and up. At the top we had 360-degree views and a wonderful breeze and perfect alpine beauty to drink in. It could not have been any better – really not.
And so – lunch, a chat with a family staying in the hut who had also wandered up and then a trek back down. That’s when Simon started getting blisters on the soles of his feet. Ouch!
But we made it! Yay! Sated with gorgeousness. And this time, when we got back, instead of jumping into the lake (yes – I did go swimming the day before!) we headed off to Meadow Creek and the showers in their deserted campground. All ready for day 3.
All right then: day 3. Our last and shortest hike plus heading back home. We were up at 5.30, whispering (quiet time until 7 a.m.) and stealthily taking down the campsite. We were fully loaded and off shortly after 7 a.m. Yes, it’s along drive to the Monica Meadows parking lot. But we were on the trail at 8.30 and heading up. The meadows come into view quickly – about an hour or so. The lower, wet meadow was a blanket of flowers – the upper meadows more tundra-like but utterly gorgeous. We knew this area from last year but back then it was covered in snow.
What a treat to see it all green and to see the larches in their gorgeous summer coats. We wandered, took photos, drank it in, chatted with a marmot and walked the circuit over the ridge and back down to the pretty lake.
We were back at the truck by 12.15.
It’s hard to believe this was yesterday. Monica Meadows, more than the other two hikes, is a world set apart – at once welcoming and forbidding – tough and delicate. We are determined to go back and spend an entire day walking every ridge.
All three hikes are filled with wonder.
And now what? Well, LOTS of laundry – and stocking up on food – and prepping for Mount Jardine tomorrow.