[simage=3689,200,n,left,] On Canada Day in the Rockies there could be lots of snow in the alpine. This year there were no such problems, so with a stellar weather forecast we headed back to the Rockies with a plan for four nights in Assiniboine Provincial Park – this is on the BC side of the continental divide, west of Banff.
Everyone’s destination is Lake Magog, and there are several routes. All of them are fairly long – at least 22 km up and over a pass.
Day 1 – Sunshine Village to Lake Og
We opted to come in from the Sunshine Village ski resort just outside Banff. This is a 29km hike, but offers the advantage of starting high in the alpine (the ski resort buses people to the main ski area).
We took the 8am bus (you need to book in advance) and were on the trail by 8:45 am. Unfortunately both of us were not feeling well, especially Andy. By our own standards we were pretty slow.
The hike through Sunshine Meadows was pleasant although the meadow doesn’t seem to produce many flowers, compared to other places in the Assiniboine area, and we wondered if it is too dry here. Citadel Pass marks the point were hikers leave the meadows and plunge into the forests of BC. Here is the last chance for water refills for about 10km. One of the best parks of the hike is at the bottom of this drop where the trail to Magog skirts above the forest and Porcupine Campground along a fabulous steep meadow slope. Lots of flowers here!
After the meadow there are about 6km in the Valley of Rocks. It’s dry and a bit desolate, but interesting. We read an old trekking guide from the early 1900s that described this as “one of the most desolate places on earth”. Rather harsh, but we were struggling and felt a similar sentiment. We drank all our water and ate our apples and tomatoes to keep us going.
We arrived at Lake Og (a small lake 6.5 km before Magog) and decided to camp there. The sunset and sunrise views of Mount Assiniboine were fantastic.
Day 2 – Og to Magog and Nubb Peak
We slept about 10 hours from 8 pm and made an early start. The trail passes through a pleasant but buggy meadow. We bagged a great spot at Magog Lake Campground and headed up to have lunch on Nubb Peak. This is one of several easy but spectacular day hikes from Magog. The first stop is on the Niblet (a small bump above xxxx lakes), then the Nublet (the end of the hike for many people). With very limited scrambling skills (there is no exposure at all) we also moved along up a ridge to the large summit area of Nubb Peak. The views of Assiniboine, xxxx, Magog Lake, and the mountains forming the continental divide are fantastic. After a long lunch we took an easy hike back to the campsite.
Day 3 – Windy Pass
This day hike is a little more demanding, taking us back towards Lake Og, but up to the continental divide to the east of the Lake. As we climbed up above the treeline we entered a glorious meadow. Superb views back to Assiniboine again, as well as into Banff Park from the pass. The cliffs the other side of the pass are very steep – made us feel queasy. We opted to scramble up a well worn trail to the peak to the north of the pass, but did not summit because it was too exposed – one slip would be the end of you. A better and safer option might be to head south and climb Og Peak summit that gives the nearby lake and pass its name. This was a great hike and we only saw three people all day.
One the way back we stopped at the lodge for afternoon tea (includes lemonade and cake). This was great value – huge amounts of cake being served. We then picked our way along the shores of Magog Lake to the campsite, stopping for a short swim.
Day 4 – Wonder Pass and back to Lake Og
We were a little concerned with a 29km final day to leave the park and make it for the last 5 pm bust down from Sunshine Village. We decided to break camp from Magog, hike to the lodge, leave our backpacks where they would be safe from bears and rodents, and hike to Wonder Pass. Subsequently,we would hike from the lodge to Og and camp again. It was busy on the trail to Wonder Pass, but we had the viewpoint to ourselves – it’s a bit hidden as you need to drop down over the pass and take a side trail down to a lovely small meadow in the forest with views of the north west side of Assiniboine and the numerous glaciers.
Day 5 – Og to Sunshine Village
We got up early, wanting to have plenty of time to catch the bus at Sunshine (after the pathetic effort on the first day). Our fears were unfounded and we did the hike in about 6 hours, with a couple of stops. We enjoyed the meadow above Porcupine campground again, and even the climb up to Citadel Pass seemed pleasant.
Assiniboine is simply fantastic – amazing premier hiking with afternoon tea!