Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Day Two at Mt. Assiniboine Lodge

Lodge staff knocked on our door at 7:30AM and delivered a bucket of hot water for washing.  This got us up, but we were a little slow and groggy and by the time we got dressed and over to the dining room for breakfast, all the other guests were already seated.  This would set the trend for the rest of our time here.  We enjoyed a hearty breakfast and then packed a lunch for the day of hiking.
The two guides for the day would be Claude, who was taking a group up to the Nub and Andre who would take a second group up to Wonder Pass.  We decided that we would start out with Claude and his group. Right after breakfast we made ourselves a bag lunch, as did all the other guests, and then we gathered our gear for the hike.
The Lodge faces Magog Lake, with Assiniboine and the other peaks in a semi-circle behind the lake to the south.  To the west there is a ridge with a couple of outcrops that eventually rises up to an exposed peak call the Nub.  The lowest outcrop is called "The Niblet", while the second one is called "The Nublet".  To the north of this rises a rocky mountain that breaks above treeline.  This one is called "The Nub", or "Nub Peak".  Our group of hikers was going off trail to climb up to the Nublet from the back side.  From there the more energetic hikers would continue on up to the Nub, while part of the group would continue with a second guide down to the lakes below.  These are Sunburst, Cerulean and Elizabeth Lakes nestled around the base of Sunburst Peak, and immediately beneath the Niblet, Nublet and the Nub.  A very scenic place to say the least.
There were about a dozen of us that clambered up the mostly open slopes on the back side of the Nublet.  This was just at treeline and there was a scattering of alpine larches, beginning to turn color, as well as some stunted krummholz of gnarled Engelman Spruce.  The weather was spectacular with blue skies, whispy fair weather clouds, and mild temperatures.  Despite the fact that I had lightened my camera pack for this trip, it was still over 25Lbs with the tripod and at this high altitude it was physically exhausting to make it up to the Nublet.  Once at the top I set up my big view camera and began to take photographs of the stunning view before us.  Long before I was finished, the hikers were ready to move on and so they did.  Margarit and I were soon on our own.  We spent a couple of hours up there photographing, exploring and soaking in the experience.  By the time we were ready to move on it was getting around to afternoon and we decided not to hike higher or further out.  Rather we began to work our way back down off the Nublet, to the valley below.
The hillside was riddled with the diggings of bears.  Big holes dug all over the hillside were the result of bears digging out ground squirrels.  **Correction**  I originally thought that the bears were digging out squirrels but following discussions with some friends it may in fact have been roots that were being excavated.  In any event the evidence of bears was all over the place.  As we made our way down the slope it wasn't long before we came across one of these diggers.  A large grizzly bear was furiously tossing aside large clumps of dirt in pursuit of a meal.  The bear was about a hundred yards away so we didn't feel as though we were in any particular danger.  We just marveled at the size and power of the bear and watched him work for a little while.  The bear seemed indifferent to us, but we wanted to make sure it was aware of our presence, so I let out a whistle.  He stopped briefly and looked around, and then just kept digging.  We gave him a wide berth and continued on down the slope to the trail below.
By the time we bush-whacked through the forest, found the trail, and made our way back to the Lodge, it was getting to be about 3:00PM.  We dropped off the camera gear back at the cabin and went for a nice hot shower.  Then we made our way over to the Lodge for an afternoon snack and a beer.  About this time and over the next hour or so, all the other hikers began straggling in from various directions.  We hung around at the Lodge for the afternoon, visiting with some of the other guests.  At 6:30 the dinner bell rang and we all trooped into the dining room for another fantastic meal.  This time it was soup followed by Pork Tenderloin with Quinoa and Mashed Yams, followed by a dessert of Blueberry Crumble.  As usual I passed on the dessert, but everything else was exceptionally good.  With all the fresh air and exercise everyone pretty much ran out of gas and it was about 9:00PM when most of the guests retired to their rooms and cabins.  We did the same, looking forward to the next day of our adventure.

This Panorama shows Terrapin Mountain and Mt. Magog on the left.  Mt. Assiniboine is the tallest, Matterhorn like peak, with Lake Magog below.  The dark central cliff is Sunburst Peak, with Cerulean Lake below it to the right.  The large grassy rise to the right is the crest of the Nublet, with this photo taken from it's shoulder.  The tip of the Nub is visible just above the crest on the right.  The rocky outcrop down below, at the base of Sunburst is the Niblet.  The Niblet is obscuring Sunburst Lake which is just below.

 Mt. Assiniboine, Sunburst Peak and Cerulean Lake, with the Niblet in the foreground.

 The Assiniboine Pass to the east of the camera position here on the Nublet.  The helicopters came in and out to the lodge through this pass.

 Upper slopes of the Nublet, just at treeline.

A panorama from the Nublet showing Assiniboine Pass in the center, Mt Cautley, Wonder Peak and Wonder Pass, then The Towers, Naiset Peak, Terrapin Mountain and Mt. Magog at the right.

 Left to right...  Wonder Peak, The Towers, Naiset Peak, Terrapin Mountain, Mt. Magog, Mt. Assiniboine, Wedgewood Peak and Sunburst Peak, with Magog Lake below.

 Wonder Pass and Magog Lake, with background mountains, from the Nublet.


  1. Mighty fine scenery! Nice time of year to be there. Inspiring. Once in a lifetime. Eager to see photos from you film camera.

  2. I thought the trip would be once in a lifetime... but having enjoyed it so much I'm inclined to think we might return in a year or two. I have begun the process of developing the 60+ sheets of film that I exposed on this trip and will get around to posting some of those in the coming days.