Alpine lakes, lush green meadows and limestone plains high above the treeline, yet still in the shadows of the gigantic mountain peaks in every direction. It’s hard to believe almost nobody has heard about this place.
The Rockies are arguably the most stunning of all mountain ranges in the world. A place this special has to be pretty remarkable to stand out above the countless other remarkable destinations in the Canadian Rockies.
There’s a good chance you haven’t heard this place though. And that’s part of what makes it one of the Canadian Rockies best kept secrets.
With social media being the invisible driving force of so much over crowding and trampling of these far off places, there has been a shift in “responsible posting”. Geotagging adventures in lesser known places has a tangible effects on the landscapes as more and more people flock there to recreate images originally crafted by the photographers they follow.
That’s why many photographers and Instagrammers have been more selective and vague about the places they visit.
There’s something to be said about discovering a new place on your own. Putting in the time and the research. Scrolling endlessly on Google Earth instead of your Instagram feed.
That’s exactly what Stevin T did before he invited me on his 50km backpacking journey through a remote section of interior British Columbia.
You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m not going to give away the location so easily. However, I assure you, it’s out there waiting for you to discover it for yourself.
The trailhead is located nearly an hour down a 4×4 road deep into the mountains. From there we trekked alongside a river and up the valley for 10 km before making camp at around the half way point.
After another full day of hiking through alpine meadows and massive fractured limestone plain. We meandered up and over a mountain ridge and finally gained the highest point of the pass before our destination finally revealed itself to us.
The first 10 km of the trail was clear and easy to follow. However, the next 10 km required skilled route-finding and the use of a GPS.
I think that the effort required in actually getting there is part of what made the reward so incredible. It’s remote location and difficulty to find is probably why we had the place almost completely to ourselves for three entire days during peak summer with a glorious weather window.
If you’ve spent much time in the Rockies, you know you’ll be sharing the trail with scores of people in the summers, especially during the summer months with solid weather. Not this one though!
The remoteness was also a factor that contributed to us having a very real and very scary grizzly encounter. The four of us are experienced backcountry users and have all had our fair share of grizzly and wildlife encounters. None of those encounters could ever hold a candle to this one.
20 metres from our first camp we set off towards the alpine meadows with only one km of forest in front of us. Leading the way, I hear a number of twigs snap. The sound comes from behind three pine trees immediately to my left.
The rustling behind the trees sounded as if a mini van was rolling over on-top of the forest floor. I didn’t see the grizzly just yet, but I knew in my head and my gut we were about to have a scary encounter.
A male grizzly no less than 900-1000 pounds cleared the trees and confronted us on the trail. Looking into our eyes as he approached us from 5 meters away. The grizzly generously allowed us to walk backwards down the trail as we pulled our bear spray from our holsters.
After pushing us back about 100 metres down the trail. The bear found our temporary campsite from the night before. He sniffed around where our tents laid just moments before. Then, the grizzly looked back at us one last time – making eye contact with us again – before he stepped into the woods and off of the trail.
We all sighed a bit of relief. The forest was still dense and we wouldn’t breath easy again until we finally gained the alpine meadow where the forrest would open up.
The experience of this kind of remoteness is all part of what makes discovering these places so special. They’re truly wild. There’s no park rangers warding off grizzlies as campers sleep. There’s no distant highway creating a buzz of traffic that reminds you of civilization. There’s not even a trail leading you in the right direction.
There’s just unspoiled nature, waiting for you to discover it for yourself.