Over the weekend, we were fortunate enough to be able to take Dan and Kerri on their first backpacking trip (which coincidentally ended up being our first random camping excursion as well). After a not unsubstantial amount of discussion and indecision, we settled on Running Rain Lake, which falls inside of one of the Wildland Provincial Parks here in Alberta. It’s just southeast of Highwood Pass, which puts the lake at a higher elevation than you would expect for such a short hike.
It was only a 2.7 km hike in, but it had rained all day, and there was a lot of fording the stream that runs down from the lake, and so by the time we made camp we were all soaked and cold and something of a sad little bunch. We found a suitable dry spot (much of the meadow was marsh) and the boys got the fire going while Kerri and I set up tents and beds.
Before long we were drying ourselves by the heat of the campfire. We roasted a few marshmallows before calling it a night and crawling into our tents.
By the time we woke up, the sun was shining and we were snug and warm in our beds. Eventually we extracted ourselves (some of us more reluctantly than others, as you can see) and gathered ’round the fire for coffee and oatmeal. It was still a bit chilly, seeing as we were quite a ways up the mountain, among the pika’s and big horn sheep.
After breakfast had settled and the sun had warmed us all, the boys decided to scramble up the shale slide, aiming to climb to the ridge that overlooked the meadow and the lake.
They were at it for around two hours. Mike took our camera to capture the photos of the lake and the meadow and our camping area from above. The lake is beautiful, and so crystal clear that you can watch the fish swimming about. It was cold though. Far too cold for swimming while we were there, but it was deceptively tempting when the sun was beating down and the water looked so refreshing. I dared to wade in to my waist to retrieve a bobber and hook that were floating, abandoned, by the shore (grrrrr, people can be so thoughtless of nature!) and my legs were almost numb by the time I hit land again.
After the boys returned from their adventure, we had lunch and generally relaxed and enjoyed ourselves in camp. A small group of people wandered into the far end of the meadow, and spent several hours fishing and taking photos. No one came over to talk to us, but they seemed to enjoy their afternoon. A couple eventually backpacked in and set up camp quite a ways from us, but they didn’t wander over to say hello either.
Smidgin, as it were, was having a great time of it, although being rather thin skinned, we brought her a down comforter to help keep her warm. At first she was resistant to laying on it or being covered, but after sitting there and shivering for a while, she soon discovered that the fire and the blanket meant being warm and she was pleased to snuggle in it after that.
Eventually we had supper, and then sat by the fire and talked and ate marshmallows. It was quiet, and after having such a relaxing day, in such a beautiful place, the cold and wet of the night before seemed trivial and well worth suffering through.
Soon enough it was time for bed, and we all turned in for the night. It gets rather chilly up there, so we were certainly glad for our hybrid bags. They kept us toasty warm, even though the temperature dropped down to somewhere near zero.
Fortunately for us, the next day was gorgeous and sunny, but the rest of the details (and photos) will have to wait!