Mount Assiniboine-called the Matterhorn of the Rockies. And for good reason. This majestic peak stands tall and dominant among the others. Its beauty is awe inspiring; from the first peek to the last glance it’s hard to take your eyes off this amazing mountain.
Located in British Columbia just over the Alberta/B.C. border, Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park is a collection of beautiful mountains and trails centered around its namesake. There are are numberous ways to hike into the park, we began our trip at Sunshine Meadows just west of Banff, A.B.
The beginning of our trip started with a school bus shuttle whisking us in 15 short minutes from the Sunshine ski hill parking lot to the base of the ski hill. It felt a little like cheating but with over 20km still to hike we weren’t complaining! The first part of the hike was through the blooming Sunshine meadows towards Citadel Pass. It was a bit odd to start off with 20 or so other backpackers (all of us catching the first morning shuttle) but the groups soon seperated and the two of us were left to enjoy the amazing surroundings on our own (most of the time anyway!). Wildflowers were blooming everywhere, in all shades, adding a burst of colour to an already beautiful landscape.
From the pass we entered alpine forests and began a steep switchback descent which continued for close to 30 minutes before levelling out again as the trail took us along the steep slope of Golden Mountain with views of the Simpson River Valley below. The sun was high and hot, any dip into the cool forests or wisp of a mountain breeze was a huge relief.
The trail then descended into the valley before the last 5km of ups and downs through the Valley of the Rocks. The guidebook we were following (Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies-an excellent opinionated guide to picking through the vast amount of hikes available) had mentioned at the very beginning of the hike to make sure water bottles were full past Citadel Pass as water was scarce. We did not give this warning the importance it was due! Soon after Golden Mt. we were down to about a trickle of water each, with just over 5km to go in the scorching afternoon sun.
So when we finally reached Og lake in the late afternoon it was an incredible relief. We quickly dumped our bags on a tent pad, threw off our boots to let our blistered feet air out and headed for the water. We washed, we swam and drank at least a litre each of the pristine water before relaxing into the evening.
There are numerous trails to explore throughout Mt. Assiniboine park. On our 2nd day, after a relaxing morning over instant Americanos (!), we left our packs and tent behind and hiked to Lake Magog, Sunburst and Cerulean lake.
Before heading back to our campsite and Og lake we enjoyed the view a little longer at the rustic Assiniboine lodge with an ice cold beer. Backcountry luxury!
After an unnerving night of nearby wolf howls, we were awake before sunrise and packing only with the light of our headlamps. We were hoping to get as much of our return distance under our feet before the heat of the day. So with (somewhat!) lighter packs and sunburnt faces we hiked back to Sunshine meadows, constantly turning back to keep the astounding view of Mt. Assiniboine fresh in our minds.