In keeping with the camping theme this week, I have asked my friend Lori Andrews (aka the 10 cent designer) to share some of her campy wisdom with ya’ll. xo Kait
When the lovely Kait Kucy asked for a blog post on hiking, I jumped at the chance! I adore hiking. Specifically, back-country hiking. As a lifelong Albertan, growing up near the Rockies and an outdoorsman for a Dad, I have been hiking and camping since my earliest memories.
I know I could share a nice little day hike with you but I really want to get you pumped up for something a little more challenging.
One of my favorite hikes in Kananaskis Country is Buller Pass. You could easily do this as a simple day hike, enjoy the view at the top and be done. But why not stay the night? Look down and you will notice a pretty little blue oasis called Ribbon Lake. It’s just a hop skip and a jump away from the top of the pass! Ok not really – it’s still several hours away but such a wonderful place to spend the night. I would not recommend this to novice hikers. You will need to pick your way up and down some fairly steep scree paths to get there. Plus, of course, there will be that pesky additional 30-40 pounds on your back. Please take a friend along – Kananaskis is bear country. It’s always best to hike in a group.
I have had the pleasure of camping in this spot twice now. You can actually approach it from three different locations. Ribbon Falls is a popular choice but unless you are comfortable scrambling up sheer rock faces with chains and a heavy pack, you might reconsider this route. Quinn’s pass is gorgeous however I only used it once as an emergency get away during a forest fire. It is steep and less charming that the Buller approach. I say you try the Buller Pass route.
Once you get into camp, you will find excellent facilities including bear proof lockers for your food and anything scented, a group firepit area with tables and firewood, a crazy looking fiberglass outhouse on a stand that looks like something out of “Heart of Darkness”, and some very well maintained private camp sites. There is NO vehicle access to this area. All other campers will have hiked in just like you.
You will also get a beautiful lake and sunset, wildlife galore and probably the best sleep of your life since you will be so exhausted.
Back Country camping is quite inexpensive. ONCE you have all the right gear. You will need to purchase more than a few items if it is your first back country trip. That said, I have had the great pleasure of sitting around a campfire with a young couple who just made do with what they had. They were a sight to see both heading into camp and out with very heavy gear and sweatpants, plus they were ill prepared for emergencies but they had wine! And they were perfectly charming.
Backcountry camping in Kananaskis requires a permit. Visit!
You will need:
1. A good lightweight back country pack. (Mountain equipment coop has some excellent choices in all budget ranges). Your pack will need to have good support around your hips. Staff at any outdoor store can help you find the right fit.
2. Sturdy hiking boots. I choose leather boots as they easily withstand a little mud and water. Trust me, your feet need protection from the hard rocks and your ankles need good support. Also, I use hiking poles. Two of them. I find it really helps take some of the weight off my legs and with balance on steep descents.
3. A variety of clothing layers for any conditions. Weather changes quickly in the mountains. You can be in sunshine one moment and a snowstorm the next. In the middle of July! Choose modern breathable layers from companies like Ice Breaker and Patagonia. Be sure to take long underwear, a hat, gloves and a waterproof layer!
4. You will also need – a lightweight sleeping bag that is good to well below 0°c (It can get very cold at night); a lightweight thermarest to keep yourself off the cold ground; a lightweight tent of course; a small campstove (and matches); lightweight food and dishes; plenty of water (and a UV water sterilizer!); sunscreen; bugspray; LED headlamp; sunglasses; sun hat, first aid kit; trail maps; a spot emergency beacon is a good idea; as is bear spray. Feel free to write me if your serious about trying this for the first time and I will give you a complete list of everything I carry. I believe I may be the only person I know who carries her makeup kit on such a trip. Hey! It’s important for the photos. Oh right, the photos! Bring your camera. If weight is an issue, I recommend carrying a lightweight film camera like a Holga! Plus, you won’t care so much if you accidentally destroy it.
From Buller creek parking lot to Ribbon Lake – Total km return (about 20 km) elevation gained (and lost and gained and lost again) over 671.
Lori Andrews is an insanely happy interior designer and photographer living in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.