August 14th, Zero Day, Lake Magog CG. Niblet (Ian and Emily) 6 km, 222 m elevation gain. Nublet (Emily) 9 km, 365 m elevation gain.
Calling today a Zero Day was accurate insofar as we did not advance down the trail but it was definitely not a Rest Day. I was out of the tent just after 7 am but I had been awake since around 6 am. Emily is definitely a better sleeper than me as she did not stir when I got up. The sky was blue with some clouds so I snapped some shots of Mt Assiniboine while waiting for Emily. There was no rushing on this day.
We got breakfast going just after 8 am. For breakfast Emily and I have a 100 g chunk of Logan Bread and a coffee. The Logan Bread (click link for recipe) makes breakfast quicker and reduces the amount of cleaning we have to do compared to having oatmeal, our traditional go-to meal on previous trips. We could cut down the time more if we skipped the coffee but that is definitely not going to happen. For pots/cups on the trip Emily has a 550 ml Toaks Titanium mug (that daddy bought her) and I used a 1100 ml Toaks Titanium Pot with lid. Since we were only heating water for coffee or to re-hydrate meals I did not see the need to bring a pot and a mug for myself. The 1100 ml pot works great as a dual purpose pot and mug. It is large enough to heat water for two cups of coffee or for two dried meals but is small enough to work as a mug. When I solo hike I only take a 550 ml Toaks mug as it is large enough for a single coffee and to re-hydrate one meal.
After breakfast I did some laundry. Maybe not a great choice of days as it had become overcast and cool so the clothes were going to take along time to dry. No soap involved, just really rinsing out some of the sweat so I could smell somewhat fresh the next morning.
After a lazy breakfast and a bit of laundry we were getting ready to explore some of the more modest and accessible peaks when we were drawn into a long conversation with the occupants of one the neighbouring tent sites. They were in the process of leaving, having already enjoyed several days at the campground. They were much older than even I was and had accessed the area via helicopter. After chatting with them and hearing their plans for the next couple of weeks and the summer in general I felt I could only hope to be as active and adventurous as they were when I get to their age. They may move a little slower but they still found ways to spend many days on the trail exploring different backcountry locations.
After we said our good byes and the older couple headed out to catch their helicopter we gathered our gear for our easy exploration of the surrounding peaks. I figure most everyone who spends a day or two at Mt Assiniboine will at some point hike up The Niblet and The Nublet. I was taking a very cautious approach to the day as my primary goal was to rest my feet. We headed off down the trail, Emily with her day pack and me with my camera walking in my flip flops.
We first came to Sunburst lake with the aptly named Sunburst Peak towering 500 m over the west end of the lake. Located on the shores of Sunburst Lake is a small cabin that was home to Lizzie Rummel where she welcomed guests to the cabin for over 20 years. We read with interest the sign board that described Lizzie’s life in the mountain park. It is an incredible story. Lizzie Rummel had a long lasting impact in the area and community. She has two lakes and an elementary school in Canmore named after her and received the Order of Canada in 1980 for her contributions to mountain culture.
A very short walk took us to Cerulean Lake. The two lakes, Sunburst and Cerulean, are separated by a very narrow isthmus. One day in the future the lakes will probably join to become one as the land between them is eroded away. The trails in the area are well maintained with ample signage to assist the large number of the people who visit the area in the summer months. An easy walk from Cerulean and we came to the junction for the Niblet/Nublet. The trail leading up to The Niblet had a pleasant grade as it switchbacked up the side of the mountain. I appreciated the easy grade since I was hiking in my flip flops. Our first unobstructed view came after just 10 minutes. We summited the Niblet in just 17 minutes from when we had left the main trail. While The Niblet is not very high, its location provides a great vantage point for taking in the view of the area encompassing Mt Assiniboine Provincial Park.
Emily’s Note: Dad was not planning on coming to the top of Niblet. He just kept doing the, hm, one more turn, get a better view, then whoops, he made it all the way up in flip-flops. Also re: signage, there were lots of signs, but Nubs-wise they were not terribly clear; at one junction someone had carved the direction into a wooden signpost.
After a pleasant stay at the Niblet Emily continued onto to the slopes leading to the Nublet. I decided not to tempt fate in my flip flops and retraced my steps back down. Once I was back on the main trail I had a very pleasant conversation with a couple who asked about my camera after observing me squatting down trying to get some creative flower photos.
Emily’s note: The Nublet is a really cute little hike, and not too far for some pretty spectacular 360 degree views. I was somewhat tempted to continue all the way to Nub Peak, but I reminded myself that we still had a week and a half of hiking left. Instead I tucked myself out of the wind behind a rock to have a snack and watch a particularly fat marmot who was foraging and eyeing up my backpack to see if he could steal anything. On the way down I ran into several people who had already spoken to my dad, which was kind of funny.
I had a pleasant time spending the next several hours to myself. I stopped at Sunburst Lake and practised my reflection photography. I was trying to place an object of interest in the foreground while still capturing the entirety of Sunburst Peak in the reflection. As I was not using a wide angle lens it was quite challenging and resulted at one point me lying on the wet sand at the edge of the lake.
Emily’s Note: When I got back down to Sunburst Lake I found a spot by the lake to journal and startled a couple guys who were exploring the shore when I moved suddenly from my rock–they thought for a second that I was a wild animal.
After leaving Sunburst Lake I headed back to the campsite to have some lunch. It may have been intended as a recovery day but with the flip flops not irritating my feet I decided to head off after lunch and do some more exploring. The day being so cloudy and gloomy out I decided to leave my camera behind at the campsite. I wandered up to the Assiniboine Lodge at the far end of Lake Magog. I knew a former student of mine was working that day and was interested in saying hello if the opportunity arose. Upon arrival at the lodge it was very clear from all the signage and orange flagging tape that persons (including me) not staying at the lodge were not welcome due to Covid. I slowly made my way back to Lake Magog taking some time to sit on a bench that Emily, Volcano and I had stopped at on our hike through the area in 2019. I continued down to the lake and took in the view of the water and the surrounding mountains. As chance would have it Emily turned up, having successfully summited The Nublet and done some exploring of her own. We watched an osprey swoop and dive for fish and eventually wandered back towards the end of the lake by the campground. I knew that there was a steep trail from the lake back up to the west end of the campground. There were a few groups scattered around the lake trying to enjoy the view in the less than ideal weather. A couple of deer came down to the water’s edge to nibble some grass and have a drink.
We returned to the campsite, made dinner and headed to bed at a reasonable time. Hopefully the easy day would set the next part of trip going in a positive direction. I was feeling much better than I did waking up at Big Springs CG the previous day and tomorrow it was off to one of my favourite little backcountry campgrounds, Howard Douglas in Banff NP.