CENTENNIAL TRAIL WORK PARTY - September 14 - 15, 1968
The mid-September weekend was our biggest effort yet on our Centennial Trail. It was a combined work party and paint-in. Rolf Pallat had arranged for AI Thompson, Recreation Officer in Calgary to come along and see the trail first hand. AI brought along his wife as well as Vie Schneidmiller, the Ranger at Canmore, and Doug Lyons, the Provincial Recreation Officer from Edmonton who made the trip south in order to hike over our trail. Doug was very impressed with it. These four Alberta Government guests joined Albert Kaiser's Saturday trippers comprising Ann, Jean, Wally M., Don, Eddie and Paul. All of these 11 people met the weekend backpackers led by Henk Oliemans consisting of Tommy, Jim K. Rolf and Wally D. at Deadman's Flat Saturday morning. The two Forest Service trucks carried our packs and other supplies up almost to the end of the road.
We all reached the campsite just below the cirque meadow and just above the spring discovered by Rolf last summer, in time for lunch. After camp was set up we continued the warm sunny climb up the north ridge of Mt. Allan. Soon dark clouds gathered and a cold wind picked up. We reached the summit of Mt. Allan in a snow squall. After partaking of a little nourishment we erected our sign at the top and a brief celebration followed.
Then Albert's party and the Government guests started down the south side towards Ribbon Creek. Due to the inclement weather and shortage of time they had the chance to do very little painting of cairns and rocks. They got down just before dark where the Ribbon Creek Ranger, Gordon Mathews and assistant met them in trucks and drove them back to Deadman's Flat, after some coffee at the Ranger Station.
Meanwhile, Henk's party built cairns and painted their way down the north ridge to mark the highest part of the trail. In early evening, just above timberline, a blinding wet snowsquall hit. As a result five wet Ramblers sloshed into camp just before dark. Jim Kirkpatrick did a marvellous job of preparing a fancy dinner in the dark and cold rain over an open fire. We enjoyed the stew even after Rolf accidently put his foot In It (stepped into the pot in the dark). Before 9:30 p.m. we were all enjoying the dry warmth of our sleeping bags. Tommy in his own little tent and the other four of us in a large club tent. Fortunately the rain and wet snow quit in the middle of the night, because shortly after that our big tent blew down. We four were content to lie among the ruins but Tom Thurston was the hero of the day - I should say night. He got up and put our tent back up over us. It blew right down again but he put it up so well the second time that it stayed up until morning.
After breakfast on Sunday the sky suddenly cleared and we climbed up the north ridge again and continued the work, which Included a lot of pick and shovel work. Meanwhile John Hassett's day-trippers, comprising Daphne, Ruth, Josie, Marg, Barbara, Clair, Raj, Sandy Mac, Alastair, Jim B. AI, Rob, Jamie and Brian were wending their way up the trail. Those who made it that high met us at mid-day and pitched in on the construction. Most of the day-trippers, especially Jim Bell, helped carry the camp and tools out. With the combined effort of the large group we finished constructing and marking the trail down the north side of Mt. Allan to the top of the road and a little beyond by the end of the afternoon.
We were all back down to the cars along the highway before dark, happy with a feeling of accomplishment. The main casualty of the weekend was the large club tent, which was torn by the wind on Sunday, before Josie and Brian rescued it. A total of 31 people participated in this big effort.
from "The Pack Rat", Sep. 1968
BACKPACK TRIP TO MARTIN CREEK via PIPESTONE PASS - JULY 1969
by: Madeleine le Sueur (with certain additions and changes by Rob Ashburner and Jack Carter)
The route for a week's backpack into the Pipestone Pass area had been carefully planned and preparations made. Some doubt as to the success of the trip had been expressed, the wisdom of including girls debated, and skeptical friends of the latter duly said their final, fond farewells.
The undaunted leader, Jack Carter, finalized his preparations and the group consisting of AI Samek, Rob Ashburner, Jamic Mackie, Marg Sharp and Madeleine le Sueur met in Banff on June 19th. Before departure time, spirits soared high as did the weight of the packs. Inspection by the men resulted in prize finds in the girls' packs including hot water bottles, shoe trees and a washing basin which were duly returned to the car. After Rob carefully hid the beer in a creek for a return celebration, the group set off up Mosquito Creek at 3:40 p.m. First camp was made at the base of the Molar Pass.
Under weighty loads, we proceeded up the mountain slope, which was dramatically overshadowed by towering Mt. Hector. In spite of the reputed lack of rain on a Carter trip, the dark clouds increased, the thunder rumbled through the mountains as the large rain drops appeared, the exhausted travellers dived under large sheets of polythene and sat there huddled together munching AI's popular Logan Bread whilst the wind played catch with the ends of the polythene. Once all was clear they proceeded up to the North Molar Pass where they lunched and photographed the spectacular views. The curved valley below leading towards Fish Lake seemed to have its green carpeted amphitheatre dramatically streaked with snow, directly contrasting with the red/brown mountainside.
The group retained their elevation and circled the mountainside, first crossing a bad rockfall and then open meadows until suddenly, down below, stretched the Pipestone Valley In Its serene beauty. Camp was made in the valley above tree line at an unnamed lake, close to the grazing ground of several elk. An exquisite sunset marked the end of a good day.
The following morning, the girls left for a quick early morning swim in the lake. When Rob inspected the few footprints underwater he agreed that they could not have been swimming too long! Wisely, the men decided to wait. Later the group reached a little hill above the Pipestone Pass in time for lunch that morning. The delightful meadowlands of the Pipestone Valley were backed by the stark grey, snow-streaked mountain crags to the right, the spectacular Drummond Glacier at the end, and the gently sloping green mountainsides on the left. The opposite side of the pass revealed the Siffleur Valley holding a lure of adventure as it slowly curved away into the distance. After much preparation, Rob and AI served Pipestone Sherbert with the lunch (mixture of snow and strawberry jam). Back on the pass the gay spirits dwindled slightly, particularly on Marg's part, for there embedded in the snow were the gigantic footprints of another fellow traveller - Mr. Grizzly himself.
After travelling down the Siffleur for about a mile, carefully jangling bear bells In between the vegetation, they crossed over the stark, barren Clearwater Pass. After skirting the sprawling Devon Lakes, Rob and Jack went ahead to set up camp whilst Al gave the girls a chance to rest. An old outfitter's camp made an ideal site with an abundance of timber and a good stream nearby. It was here that Marg, returning to camp from washing, nearly walked straight into the rear-end of mother moose who was partly hidden behind a tree. Rob diligently searched for all the "thousands" of old cans and serenaded the group by bashing them with the hatchet later that evening. The next morning the food was cached high In the trees with excess baggage (mostly belonging to the girls), and on departure, the GENTLEMEN carried the ladies' sleeping bags - a gesture much appreciated! With lighter loads, the group bounded ahead in search of the falls whose roar had previously been heard down the valley - the two small sections of the Clearwater Falls discovered were somewhat of a disappointment. The trail followed the length of the valley and once out of the timber, the Clearwater Lakes spread out ahead - the vegetation gradually changing with the loss of altitude. After lunch, outside a deserted Warden's cabin, they continued into the lower grasslands and were somewhat close together, trudging along in single file when Marg suddenly stopped and listened - a grizzly?? The resulting pile-up in the rear caused Al's nose to meet Jack's pack with somewhat bloody results. After some time at the rest stop Marg checked on Al's condition and in a horrified tone exclaimed "Pinch the bloody thing, it should have stopped by now". All sympathy was lost at this stage as the party dissolved into hysterics; a state which continued for the next few days. Martin Lake was close by, exquisitely set in the mountains. The men's excitement and anticipation increased at the thought of the following days' explorations In Martin Valley. Here the weary travellers encountered two wardens clearing the trail together with their packhorses--something which one of the members had been waiting to see and hopefully acquire for the duration of the backpack! That evening the bright moon seemed to play games with the lake's reflections and also light the campsite at the river's edge--the source of the laughter which seemed to shatter the peace of the quiet night.
The great day dawned clear and bright and the men set off with much eager anticipation, leaving the girls to rest and have their routine 3-second lake swims. The gallant explorers made their way through swamps and deadfall without any trails, past a spectacular waterfall. After negotiating a rock cliff they reached a first lake complete with its own waterfall and the second lake fed by numerous falls originating from the glaciers above. After lunch they climbed the mountain for a view of Mt. Willingdon and Mt. Clearwater and returned to camp, worn out and hungry.
The girls profusely apologized for the lack of food explaining that the rangers had returned and had been invited for supper. Rob quietly backed up their story (once he had seen the hidden stew pot) by making horse-shoe prints In the soft sand with his good luck charm! Evening activities were hectic - the girls raided the men's tent but as the latter had not tried too many 3-second swims, withdrawal was hasty. This was due to a strange smell from Al and Jack's tent. Then Rob, safely burrowed into his tarpaulin tent, received his onslaught followed by concerned enquiries from his neighbours: "Are you alright there, Rob?" "Yeh" would come the gleeful reply, "I am doing fine, thanks." Silence. "Are you sure, Rob???" After much laughter, peace eventually descended into the valley again.
The following morning the men went for a swim. The group finally packed, waded through the river once again and returned up the Clearwater Valley. Lunch had just been eaten when rain threatened and the energetic group curled under waterproof covers and dozed until all was clear again. Back at the old outfitter's camp, the cached food was Intact and after supper the men climbed a nearby mountain and returned to report a spectacular panoramic view over large quantities of bouillon.
On fatal Friday it rained - camp was packed - It rained - they trudged back towards Clearwater Pass where they waited for it to clear - the rain continued and snow fell on higher peaks for good measure. Stiff, cold and cursing, they slushed their way back across Clearwater Pass where they encountered two hardy types with their dog and fishing equipment - it was only then that they discovered that the moon landing had been successful. Away down the Siffleur Valley the rain finally paused and the damp, weary travellers dumped their packs and feasted on the remains of the Logan Bread whilst watching elk graze across the valley. Further down the valley the trail disappeared and the then "happy" group squelched through the muddy riverside which was covered in deadfall. After several additional miles a dry campsite was located nearby the Dolomite Creek where the trees were decorated with damp socks and the fire surrounded by sodden boots. It was decided that the men had earned backrubs that night.
The next morning was perfect. They crossed Dolomite Creek and proceeded up it - rather lovely with its long gravel valley bed backed by gleaming white glaciers draped over the distant mountains. Two healthy looking trout smartly realized danger when, after some scuffling on the bank, a hook was hastily lowered and when this failed, Madeleine's bra (42D cups special) was used in an effort to scoop up the fish, but, like the hungry travellers, they too must have realized how much they would be appreciated - fried crisp over an open fire.
The undergrowth on the base of Dolomite Pass was quite thick, half way up the mountain there had been a tremendous slide effectively covered the entire valley path but was relatively easy to cross after some investigation. However. Returning to the trail after a lengthy detour through the thick and decidedly prickly growth, they expressed disgust at certain persons responsible for the Park Service Economy Drive.
An old campsite, possibly belonging to Bill Peyto judging from the old log cabin there, was used as the last stop. The group huddled around the fire beside the little stream" exchanged jokes and stories, somewhat nostalgically, on their last night.
The last morning set a record departure time. An early start was imperative. Good Intentions suddenly disappeared and chaos ran rife during which the leader showered in water, growled in mock rage and hurriedly pursued the female offender. All were exhausted by load-up time and when a pack was tossed to Jack to load, he was caught unawares and found himself laid flat on his back with the pack on his chest - who had said that the pack contained feathers?
The first section of the Dolomite Pass was unexpectedly barren but in the valley below were the lush green meadows once again. Whilst approaching the second, final section of the pass, an echo filled the valley and away above stood a minute figure - Howard Kelly had come to meet his partner of a previous trip in that area. The five straggled towards the Rambler tent pitched at Lake Katherine which was occupied by Brian, Art and Brenda who seemed somewhat taken aback at the humour, behaviour and comments of their hungry visitors who promptly devoured the remains of their food supply. After hearing reports on the trip, the weekend hikers departed, leaving the five to gather their tattered belongings for the last time and set off down to the Bow Valley. Beyond Lake Katherine, the meadowlands lay ahead, strewn with a colourful profusion of delicate mountain flowers. The trail led to an excellent view of the Crowfoot Glacier. From there AI hiked down towards the car parked at the end of a different trail, while Rob and Jack, with the girls along behind, hiked down a seemingly endless path. However, they reached the roadside when AI arrived with the car. Back-packers would appreciate how the beer tasted that day!
Dinner, delicious juicy steaks, served In Num-ti-jah Lodge, made a most welcome change from dehydrated stew and the five sat around the table, on best behaviour, desperately hoping their presence would not be too obvious to other guests as AI and Jack seemed not to have washed for the week! On returning to Banff they completed the meal with large milk shakes and ice cream and while crossing the main road Rob was overheard by two elderly ladies enquiring as to whether he could disappear behind the two large bushes (tubbed shrubs in the main road). Their expressions caused the group to double up - the last of their many laughs during the past week. The trip had turned out to be an adventure, sometimes a test of endurance and they had developed such a tremendous team spirit of cooperation and unspoken understanding that It was with much reluctance and some depression that they parted to return to the Inevitable reality and their separate paths.
Madeleine le Sueur