Thursday, August 13, 2009

SKYLINE HIKERS WHITEMAN PASS CAMP AUG 3- 7, 2009 Pre-camp and the trip in

PRE-CAMP DETAILS - SUNDAY AUGUST 2, 2009

All Skyline Hikers camps actually start on the Sunday before the actual trip into camp - we use the Banff Y as our meeting point - most years we drop off our duffel in the morning and then attend an information meeting in the evening - this year due to our location, different wrangler, use of school buses etc we didn't need to check the duffel - just ourselves and attend the meeting.

It was also a sad time for many of us regulars - we received news that long time Camp 4 Hostess and Skyline member - Virigina Klatzel had passed away a few days before camp - while I knew that she had been battling cancer I wasn't aware that her condition was a grave as it was.

Also found out that another Week 4 regular and provider of comic relief at the nightly reports, Don Watts wouldn't be attending as he had another heart attack about three weeks before camp - he had bypass surgery and is expected to make a full recovery and hopefully join us again next year.

We also don't have one of our co-hike leaders in camp because of visa/green card issues in the US. As events unfolded this would create another major challenge for us.

All camps have a host/hostess, music director, hike leader and medical person - usually it is a doctor but this week it was a para-medic from Calgary.

We have 55 participants this year - a full camp but we will end the week with only 52 - details will be given as the events unfolded. There are 23 new members which is about normal for this camp. The ladies far outnumber the guys.

THE TRIP INTO BASE CAMP MONDAY AUGUST 3, 2009



After arranging for my duffel to be transported to the Banff train station with the Counts family I walk the short distance to this meeting point with a fairly heavy day pack. There are two buses this week - while one school bus could accomodate all of us with the duffel stuffed in the back we needed the two buses. One bus picked up some of the hikers in Canmore and a few more at the Jay Street parking compound where many left there vehicles for the week . Because I am staying over on Saturday night at the Y they have let me keep my truck there for the week. The second bus loaded us up at the Banff train station - the drivers of the two buses had done all of the previous trips so they are very aware of the road conditions This year we are being transported by school because we have 46 kms of rough logging road to get to the trail head at the top of the Cross Creek Forest Service Road near Radium BC.

For the first time in many, many years our camp is located in BC and not Alberta - albeit we are only a km from the boundary and can clearly see the Continental Divide above the Camp.

Since we are using school buses which don't have washroom facilities and it is a three hour trip to trail head there is one scheduled rest break at the Kootenay Crossing picnic area on Highway 93 between Banff and Radium.




Here's what we are doing at the rest stop - it was nice and sunny and we had about a fifteen minute break - that was the only stop that was needed until trail head.




After about three hours of bus travel we arrive at trail head and see the pack horses ready to take our duffel the short 4km into camp. Other than one small creek flowing across the road the buses made the trip to trail head without incident.


We ourselves are preparing for the trip in - there will be five groups of about 10-11 hikers going in about 10 -15 minutes apart - the slowest start out first - I am leading a moderately paced group in. All day leaders carry radios in case of any problems.


While the last of the duffel was be loaded onto the horses the first group of hikers start the trip in.

The first part of the trip is down the road and along a logging spur until we reach this bridge and the start of the proper trail up to camp.
One of our slow hikers is our Camp's chief hike leader - now 80 he wants this to be his last camp and last one as Chief Hike Leader - but it wasn't to be - about 20 minutes into the hike the radios came to life that he was having serious walking problems - his legs were really sore - on the advice of the medic he decided to abort his trip into camp - but this then created two more challenges - one taking him back to trail head and getting him back to Banff - he was escorted by four of the other hikers back to trail head where they waited out a thunderstorm in one of the school buses that had been left at the trail head. One of the wranglers would later drive him back to his car in Banff.
Now we had no Chief Hike Leader - only co-leader Tony. More on that later.


The trail climbs steeply for its entire distance - we have two more crossings of the Creek - at the second one we have a short lunch break - protocol dictates that you can't pass the group ahead of you on the trip in as we have to wait for the final group and the camp host/hostess to welcome us to camp.

The third creek crossing and another break - we are about 1km from camp but still have a fair amount of climbing to do - there are lots of flowers along the trail and the weather is also changing - the thunder clouds are starting to form and a few drops of rain could be felt but it did stay dry until later in the day.


The trail finally levels out and we are now only moments away from our objective.


So after about 2 hours and 45 minutes on the trail - 4kms and 1500' in elevation gain we reach camp in a broad meadow with Cross Creek flowing through it and the massifs of Whiteman and Red Man Mountains looming over us.
Once in camp I retrieve my duffel and get my tent assignments from our host/hostess - Dawn and Geoff - I am paired with a gent from Pickering, Ontario - Peter G - a couple of years younger than myself.
One casualty of the trip in was one of my tins of pop which burst - didn't do a lot of damage - just made a bit of a sticky mess.
As one of the more veteran members of this camp and one with some experience in the trip planning I am soon asked to help Tony with some of the trip planning chores - one important one is recording how many on each hike and if anyone is in camp - we need to know where all are hikers are.
Before supper we get a heavy and intense thundershower - unlike most of the Province this part has been getting some rain so the forest fire risk is fairly low and we will be allowed to have fires in the stoves in our tents.
At 6PM we get the call for supper - it is chicken, salad, potatoes etc. Great and this year we have a proper cook in camp. A couple of his creations were outstanding. Cooking is done on propane stoves.
The four hikers who took the other hiker out to base camp still aren't into camp but through radio communications they are getting close.
Usually at 7:30PM those interested in leading hikes usually meet to plan the next day's hikes but this is delayed while Tony has his supper - my now the rain has started in earnest - during the previous week's camp they had T-Storms most nights and then it cleared the following morning,
We do finally get a list of hikes planned for tomorrow - in the Chief Hikers log book is a list of the trips and reports that the previous camps have done. There are 15 known hikes - one of the other challenges facing this group of hike leaders is that none of us have been here before - we were scheduled to go in 2003 but had our camp cancelled at the last minute due to a large forest fire and thick smoke a valley away. Jamie's Ridge, Azure Lake and Marmot Pass look popular - I elect to lead a group to Azure - it is an easy to medium hike of some 7km R/T.
Take in the donut - which is our evening meeting place where are inform of any issues and given the list of hikes for the next day.
Next --- a wet and soggy hike to Pass Lake.








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