Day 3 Allenby Junction Campground to Mt Shark Parking Lot, 17 km, 265 m Elevation Gain, 392 m Elevation Loss, 5hrs 23 min.
The story for day 3 starts in the middle of the night. I love the night sky, and there is no better place to view the night sky than far away from the lights of the city. Allenby Junction is a prime night sky viewing location. I brought my fast wide angle lens I use for astro-photography and my small tripod (you can see it on the bottom of Emily’s backpack). When we went to bed, the sky was clear, making it ideal for photography and just simply looking at all the starts. I was concerned though by the fact we were camped just outside an area restricted due to grizzly activity, and there were no other people around. I woke up at 12:30 am and lay awake contemplating getting up and checking out the sky. But I kept wondering about “what if” there was a bear just outside. Plus we did have Volcano, and did not need to surprise a bear in the middle of the night with a dog. There were periodic flashes of bright light, that added to my confusion. End of story, we did not get up.
When we arrived home, I read an article that the Perseids Meteor Shower was underway in the night sky. Well, that would account for the flashes of bright light that lit up the tent. I also went up the street to talk to a retired friend who used to work for Alberta Parks. He said that I absolutely should have got out of the tent. In his opinion, backcountry bears are very wary of humans, and if we had made noise when getting out of the tent, the bears would have left the area. Personally, he is more concerned about front country bears, since they are more used to humans.
The moral of the story, is that if you are interested in the night sky, you should get out of the tent to check it out. I used this philosophy on a later trip to Floe Lake. It was suppose to be cloudy in the evening, but when I got our of the tent and looked up, I was rewarded with clear views of the Milky Way and the Northern Lights.
Our hike for day 3 was pretty straightforward. The hike was 17 km and mostly downhill, and the majority on trail we have already hiked. We decided that we would enjoy a coffee break at Big Springs Campground. It is a pretty spot, and we were not in a rush. We enjoyed our breakfast coffee and Logan Bread while tearing down camp. Volcano ate her breakfast and after having slept well looked energetic. We left the campsite at 7:24 am.
The first 3 km where almost completely flat, with small undulations in the trail as we followed above a long meadow. I was glad to be above the meadow, because I felt that it was much like the meadows I hiked through on the Sawback hike, more of grassy swamp then firm ground.
The trail wove in and out of trees, passed over a couple of streams utilizing some very high quality bridges. We crossed another meadow, and came to a very wide path through the trees.
After 25 minutes, through the trees Emily spied a moose in the meadow below us. This confirmed my suspicion, that the meadow was a bit of a swamp. We stopped for a couple of minutes to take photos and observe the moose from a distance.
We continued down the trail and in a few minutes came to a pretty pond, time to stop for more photos. I was not concerned about all the stopping, as we knew that views were limited pass the junction to Marvel Lake CG.
Little distraction kept coming. A frog jumped across our path, exciting Volcano. I kept her from investigating the frog too thoroughly, and we watched it hop into the bushes.
Just over 10 minutes later we arrived at the Parks Canada Patrol Cabin. It was busy with activity as the wardens were saddling up the horses for a trek back to the Mt Shark parking lot. The trail past right in front of the cabin and through the horse paddock. The wardens and the horses took no notice of us. Passing through a gate on the far side brought us to McBride Camp.
We stopped at McBride camp for 10 minutes for a pit stop. Continueing on we came to the first major elevation change for the day. On the profile for the day, it looks quite drastic, but it was a drop of 115 m over 2 km, so not very steep. After 1 hr and 20 minutes we had covered the 4.3 km back to the junction with Marvel Lake Campground. The rest of the trip would be retracing our steps from Thursday.
The wide smooth trail plus the fact that we were buried deep in the forest with not a lot of views helped to keep our speed up. We covered the 3.6 km to Big Springs Campsite in just 40 minutes. This was were we had planned to stop to enjoy a morning coffee break.
While Emily tended to the coffee I took a quick trip around the campsite. It is very small and compact, the trees are more spaced out than at Marvel Lake CG, giving a more open feel, and less privacy. We enjoyed a refreshing cup of coffee and ate chocolate that we had brought for the trip. After coffee I headed down to the creek to take some long exposure pictures of the creek, to get the effect of the blurred water. I do not have a filter yet to darken the picture to lengthen the exposure, but I did the best I could, and it was fun.
It took us about 40 minutes to reach the Spray River. I stayed on the trail while Emily took Volcano down for a drink, it was 11:10 am and getting warmer out. We started the lone uphill section for the day. It was fairly steep for about 5 minutes before leveling off for another 20 minutes. At the top we ran into a group of much more mature hikers having a break. They were visiting the area from the USA and we quickly struck up a conversation. I believe Frosty Paws and Horace were part of the conversation and one the women had her own mascot. While we were talking the wardens passed us, we must have passed them at some point.
We then proceeded to hike back to the car chit chatting about hiking and trading stories. One tip we got from a hiking was to skip the American National Parks, and visit the Monuments and State Parks that surround the different National Parks. The theory being that the Monuments and State Parks are less popular, but provide the same scenery without the crowds. Another tip that the guy had was there is a device available that allows you to transfer fuel from one canister to another. I looked it up online, and it exists and has good reviews. I plan on purchasing one and trying it.
We arrived back at the car at 12:40 pm, 17 km covered in 5 hrs and 15 minutes. It was a super final day to a rapid three day excursion to the Mt Assiniboine area. For the third straight backpacking trip I ate lunch on the final day back at the car. We loaded up the car and headed for home, agreeing that we must return to Assiniboine for a longer stay.