|On the Nublet, Mt. Assiniboine in the background.|
I needn't have worried. We arrived around 12:30 p.m. the first day to sunny skies, and easily made our way on the 2 kilometer trail to the Lake Magog backcountry campsite. There we found a mini-city of backpackers who'd hiked in from Mt. Shark and Sunshine Meadows, some smiling and some the worse for wear. After setting up our tent, we explored a bit, found the outhouses and cooking shelter, and ambled along the shore of Lake Magog back to Mt. Assiniboine Lodge in time for the 4 p.m. tea and cake. Mt. Assiniboine is almost like a backcountry amusement park. Between the posh lodge and its
|The first night's campsite.|
|Breakfast the second day.|
We heard the first thunder clap as we started up our Pocket Rocket camp stove, but the rain held off until we were finished the main meal and the last kernels of our Jiffy Pop popcorn were popping. If you want to turn your kids into celebrities at any campsite, Jiffy Pop is the way to go. Despite the rain, Mack and Michael were grinning ear to ear when they realized all eyes were enviously on them and their rarest of delicacies in the backcountry. Forget all the fancy backcountry deserts in the freeze dried food section of MEC or REI. Jiffy Pops are fun to make and even more fun to eat than a foil bag of something grossly mislabeled as "Chocolate
Mousse with Chocolate Crumble Topping."
By eight we'd crawled into our tent with the pitter patter of the rain on the fly. I'd brought a deck of cards, but we didn't need them. The kids loved just sprawling out, telling jokes and relaxing to the pitter patter of the rain on the fly. I loved just enjoying the time alone with them, no electronic distractions and lots of laughing.
The next morning, I crawled out around 7 a.m. to a big blue sky and nothing but birds breaking the silence. While the boys slept in, I fixed coffee on one of the open air cooking pads and enjoyed the
|Descending the Nublet|
With no schedule other than cake at the lodge at 4 o'clock, we took our time on the 4 km trail, stopping to look at tadpoles in a stream or at the amazing view of lakes below and mountains above. On the last section of actual scrambling just below the top of the Nublet, I marveled at how
surefooted the boys have become on scree, how they naturally test hand holds to make sure the rock is solid...how at ease they've become in the mountains, how great it is to be an outdoor family...On top we enjoyed the views for half an hour, Mack spotted a bald eagle (not that common in the Rockies) and I was the happiest dad on earth.
|Our hut and its small door.|
Waiting for the helicopter the next morning, I couldn't help but think about what an amazing time we'd had. As exciting as flying in a helicopter is for a kid, for Mack and Michael it paled in comparison to things like playing in the lake as the sun set, reaching the top of the Nublet and, for Mack, being the first to spot the bald eagle. Originally, I'd been a little disappointed when I saw how many people would be sharing our backcountry experience, but that had given way to another welcome lesson in letting go of expectations and accepting what the mountains give you. The boys had been exposed to new aspects of mountain culture--sharing a cooking pad and a hut, cook shelter etiquette, meeting fellow campers--and they'd thrived in it. And that's what the
mountains are all about regardless of how old you are: taking what they give you and thriving in it all.
|Sunset at Mt. Assiniboine.|
|Morning visitor at our hut.|
|A happy dad on the flight out.|