June 29-30, July 1, 1963

Getting out of our cars on arrival at the Post Hotel gave most of us a sensation which is equal to being wrapped in a just washed blanket that hasn't had time to dry. This sort of unpleasant feeling stayed with us for two out of the three days. Try to Imagine what a miserable, damp, clammy and like-wet-clothes-smelling affair this was. Fog, low-hanging clouds or plain, grey, wet, dense misery, whatever you want to call It, was all around us and made every view on even anthill- sized mountains impossible. Surprisingly, on Ramblers trips like this, spirits are always high, which some of us very clearly display by waiting until all the community equipment is divided amongst the rucksacks before showing up to take whatever little is left. Since one does not know, fortunately, on one day what the next will be like, optimism abounds. Our tallest member, Harold, for instance, appeared In shorts and others carried fishing gear in their hands throughout the entire effort and got no more out of it than It being a constant bother to them. To top it all, a bus so carefully ordered by Henk from Calgary failed to show up. However, a cosy(?) small substitute was soon ordered which transported the group to Temple Chalet. Bus driver's remarks: "I'm powerful glad that it's you that's going and not me!"

Slush, slush from there on for 20 minutes when Henk discovered that he had left his fishing rod back at the Chalet! Wally, too eager in his offer to return and fetch the thing, almost spoiled the fun for pranksters Ruth and Tommy who had secretly brought the rod along and wanted to prolong the agony. That settled, slush, slush again to Halfway Hut where the rucksacks took possession of the only plywood-made easy chair so the people had to stand, except for Marg who almost went to sleep on a 19th century mattress. Up Boulder Pass to Ptarmigan Lake, now the only view being the clouds, which have no views. Since most of us covered this area on last year's Skoki trip, the lack of mountain scenery was not such a severe loss. Instead we enjoyed the hilarious sight of a cowboy, our tough hiker, Richard, who was scraping all sorts of dirty fungus from the rocks, trees and ground, placing these specimens in plastic bags, probably to dream about them that same evening when as soon as the tents were up he retired to bed even before supper. Maybe he eats the stuff, eh? Anyway, he calls them Lichen.

After chatting with a few fishermen at Ptarmigan Lake who were quitting because of no catch, we had lunch just past the straight line between Boulder and Deception Passes out of the wind line. Looking out on Baker Lake as we lay on our rain coats, Wally discovered a stripped zipper on his jacket. Cold, numbed fingers finally remedied this.

Coming to the gorge of Baker Lake, fishing was ruled out so on we went in the driving wind and snow. By mistake, we crossed Baker Creek, which took us off the trail and up a steep ridge which we followed to the far end, or dead end if you like, because it went into a 300 ft. sheer drop. Clouds had temporarily lifted by this time revealing a view of extreme beauty as well as the trail we should have followed and the route we would be taking the next morning up to a left-hand turn into a canyon and up to a pass enabling us to get from Baker Creek to Johnston's Creek. We returned to our Baker Creek crossing after this 3-hour side trip feeling well rewarded. By the way, this was the only reward we had for the first day of hard hiking as well as the second.

On we plodded in pouring rain making a steep descent through a heavily-wooded area on a mud sunken trail which made the numerous tree roots as slippery as eels in a pail full of gelatin. Quite treacherous. Finally at the bottom, stuck for a creek crossing, we decided to worry about that the next morning and made camp at the spot, which was a very good one. In no time we had a great quantity of "dry" wood. I believe Daphne mainly was responsible for that. In the same manner Ruth did a greatly appreciated job of-cooking both days. Following the repast Harold and Marg exhibited a scientific method of dishwashing, while Herman was only time and again shouting for at least one of the two hatchets. The tents, under the expert supervision of Henk, were placed facing one another, with the front flaps raised until they met making a cozy covered patio affair where Wally, amidst piles of rucksacks, etc., chose to spend the night. (He is allergic to crowds.) After supper Marg and Richard hit the sack while the others were drying their socks, which occasionally fell into the fire. This resulted in confusion as burnt socks were disowned but everyone still had to get a pair out of it. We had a lovely fire, which burned all night. According to Richard, who was up with the birds, it was still warm the next morning.

This second day, breakfast over (here Ray displayed some talent at dishwashing and pot scrubbing) and on the trail early, was to be the hardest day in distance as well as in climbing Pulsatilla Pass. Still no views. The main feature was crossing creeks. Wading through was easiest for Daphne. Others not sharing this sport were most funny to watch crossing Wildflower Creek where a, big, but oh so slippery, tree bridged only two-thirds of the way. It was most amusing to watch Marg, Tommy, Herman and Ruth sitting straddling the wet slithery tree, hopping up and down every inch of the way in a tremendous effort to keep from getting wet, only to do just that in the final third that was left to cross after coming off this fixed teeter-totter. Then started the gruelling climb up this slushy trail where, going one pace forward and sliding back two, we finally, how we don't know, made it to the top only to find ourselves on a false summit. The Pass is a big bowl with a lake on the far end where the edge is even higher than the one on the side where we came in. Lunch was consumed here, having no view at all. It would have been spectacular on a clear day. Hard slugging was endured from here until we got out of the bowl on the other side where a snow-covered gully extended all the way down. It was easy going down for some following the bear tracks in the snow - difficult for others climbing over loose rocks on the sides because they did not trust the snow in the gully which covered the headwaters of Johnston's Creek. Mainly because there were no views, the trip through the meadowey valley, much like the area around Floe Lake, became a long drag. At 5:30 no good campsite was yet found. There were either flat areas with firewood and no water, or a level spot and water with no wood, or wood and water in abundance on as bumpy a piece of ground as a giant gopher's back yard on a hillside. After some discussion and the realization that a better spot couldn't be found for another two hours or so, we settled for a place of the latter type, which Wally discovered. Dry branches were cleared from between the four close-standing trees, high lumps of ground were removed into low areas and a damlike structure was created at the lower end filled with moss and earth - a perfect campsite engineered by Wally and Henk. Later that evening just before dusk we detected the first patch of blue sky.

The next morning was beautiful and clear, thus revealing magnificent views back in the area we had covered the day before. We were still In the process of crossing creeks, some still carefully removing dry socks and boots and donning runners and moccasins for the crossing. A side trip without packs to Luellen Lake where we viewed Helena Ridge and Stewart Knoll was most worthwhile. A lot of respect for the way he came along this day despite large and painful blisters should go to Ray.

At the Ink Pots we met Sandy's day trip party who very kindly offered to take some of the heavy packs for the balance of the trip down the canyon, which was very pleasant.

To wrap it up - last year this trip was cancelled because of uncertain weather, which inspired the writer to report a fictitious trip to this area entitled "Nobody's Trip." In all other respects we had a wonderful trip and lots of fun. We hiked over 32 miles bearing 40-50 lb. packs. It was tough going but because of this, one is made more aware of his dependence on the others, which in turn creates a comradeship among the members - a good end result. We are glad we were on it. Thanks to Henk Oliemans for leading the expedition and to all who took part in the accomplishment of another fine Ramblers trip.

Herman Swarte.


MARCH 27-28, 1965

What was so special about this trip? Well, it started right away that Saturday morning: some 1/8" of ice had to be scraped off the car windows as we had a freezing rain that night. Then, three cars left Calgary with Wally (Leader), Hugh, Diane, Henk, Herman, Pam, Vikki, Alastair. Roberta. Wilf and Ruth (boy- & girl-friend at that time).

The roads were in lousy shape and it was snowing pretty hard. When we signed out with the Warden's wife, she looked at us kind of pitifully and said that nobody had been in to the cabin at Shadow Lake so far this winter. (It was March 27, but remember these were still the "downhills" with skins -- "cross-country skis" were still very much a word in the dictionary.) It took us a while to get ready for our trip: skins had to be put on, food had to be packed, etc. Then the cars had to be driven to Eisenhower Viewpoint and the drivers walk back. At about 11:00 o'clock we set off in 6" of new snow and still snowing. The going was hard right away. Lunch was eaten standing up on the other side of the avalanche slope with the sky so dark it looked like evening. With the snow still falling, the going got harder and harder.

At 4:00 p.m. we had a short rest at the bridge over Redearth Creek. From then on it was bolting (murder at times) our way through 12" and more of snow on our "downhills" with Wally and me, Wilf, in our element, breaking trail. I still remember that Wally preferred to lift his skis out of the snow breaking trail while I preferred to leave my skis under the snow, never to see the tips. And it was here for the first time that it crossed my mind that perhaps these cross-country skis had a place after all. Soon it was everyone's turn breaking trail. And here are Henk Olieman's words who wrote the trip report for the Packrat at that time:

"Redearth Creek, everyone took his turn breaking trail. Some people found it wasn't funny at all. It looks so nice when you are back on that well-travelled portion. Push, push! Lift that leg. I cannot break anymore. O.K., next! Another mile gone, where is that cabin? Must be pretty close. Does this look familiar to you? I don't know. Everything looks different in the winter. We must have gone off the trail somewhere. Indeed we did, but where?? By now shoulders were aching, hips were sore, blisters appearing in those downhill boots, and everyone had visions of sleeping in those holes under the trees, looking more and more inviting now. Then out of nowhere Wally and Henk spotted the cabin, snowed in except for 2 or 3 feet under the eaves. Were we ever glad to see that cabin! The rest of the trip was as usual. We had a nice supper: stew, which Pam had carried in in her backpack for all of us. Hugh, 65 years old, who had to break his own trail on snowshoes and had broken his wrist, had to be looked after. Then a good night's sleep.
"Next morning, after replenishing the firewood, we skied back out on a well-broken trail under puffy white clouds in the sky."

We had supper at the Modern Cafe in Banff. Thus ended a most memorable trip of the Ramblers.

Wilf Twelker