A short hike up a dusty road to an amazing alpine lake.
Sunshine Village Parking Lot – Howard Douglas Campground, July 6 – 7, 2017.
Siobhan was game to do a backcountry adventure but it had to include Links so I wanted to find something on the shorter side. I really had not explored much of the Sunshine Meadows area so when looking at the Parks Canada online reservation map I thought that camping at Howard Douglas Campground would be a perfect fit.
The one drawback to camping at Howard Douglas for us was that because we had Links coming with us so we could not utilize either the gondola or the shuttle to access Sunshine Village. We would have to walk up the access road. A hot and dusty gravel road rising 500 m over 6 km. I was hoping to minimize the amount of elevation that Links would have to do as he was starting to age and his stamina did not match his enthusiasm. I decided that while the first day may be a little on the long side for Links. The return day had about 120 m of elevation gain right at the beginning then predominately downhill after that. While researching the trip I did learn that in Telluride, Colorado, they do allow dogs on the gondola. If I was to return to Howard Douglas from Sunshine Village parking lot I would take either the gondola or shuttle to skip the road but it was worth the dust to have Links come with us.
Other than the dusty road the hike and the destination met all my expectations. Walking across Sunshine Meadows is always enjoyable and the campground at Howard Douglas is one of my favourite backcountry campgrounds. Nothing like waking up less than 30 seconds from an alpine lake.
I carried the majority of the camping gear for the trip and brought a few treats. For dinner I traded in the backcountry stalwart of freeze dried meals and replaced it with Cheese Smokies sausages and baked potatoes. For a treat on the trail I put some ice cream into a coffee go cup and surprised Siobhan we a refreshing snack.
As we got closer to the date of the the trip the Bow Valley was going through a heat wave. The temperatures would hit a high of 29 C on our first day and 31 C on the second. Compounding the heat was that I was working Summer School so we would be starting the hike at 1 pm hiking up a white gravel road conditions that would be sure to guarantee a hot hike.
The trip was short, we were back at the car 23 hours after we left but was fantastic. Always so happy to get to explore the backcountry and to share the experience with my kids and of course it was always great to do anything with Links.
What we learned
- Ice cream will stayed chilled in a good thermal coffee mug for at least 6 hours
- Important to think about who is coming on the trip and tailor the trip so that everyone can enjoy the experience
- Camping by an alpine lake is rejuvenating