Let's go to Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park in the BC/Alberta Rockies for a (extended) weekend of great mountain photography.
I'm hoping that we can all take Friday (19th September) and Monday (22nd September), and perhaps even Tuesday, 23rd September too, off for this trip, as really... it's hard to rush a trip to Mt. Assiniboine. If you do need to get back into Edmonton by Sunday or Monday evening then there are options available (see the itinerary below).
We will drive to the Canmore Hostel Bear first and overnight there on Thursday night. The next day we take the helicopter in to Mt. Assiniboine lodge area, stay in one of the Naiset huts (such as the 'Aster' hut) then hike down back to the helipad a couple of days later. We can then either drive back from the helipad to Edmonton or drive back to Canmore (or even Banff) and stay in a hostel there and then drive back to Edmonton the next day.
Instead of the helicopter ride, we can have people hiking in to (and/or out of) the Mt. Assiniboine area. although it is a long hike. On the other hand, we can have people both flying-in AND flying-out of there as well (especially if they're short on time). I'm assuming/hoping that most people want to (like me) fly-in and hike-out, but if you'd rather do something else, do post a comment and let us know.
As for accommodations, you don't have to stay in the Naiset Huts. Camping is available there too for $10/night. I will assume that most people would rather stay in the 'Aster' Hut as mid September nights would be a bit chilly. Let me know if you'd rather camp. (Especially if the huts are full by the time you try to reserve a bed in one)
Thursday, 18th September:
Drive out of Edmonton around 5pm. Reach Canmore around 9pm. (Could leave early if wanting to do sunset in Calgary, or later if coming after work. Sunset will be at 7:43pm.) Once at the Hostel Bear, check-in at front-desk and get settled-in. We'll have a 'welcome' meeting at the hostel in the lobby area in front of the check-in desk at 9:30pm. (Time subject to change)
Friday, 19th September: Those wanting to hike to Mt. Assiniboine will need to drive out to the Mt. Shark trailhead and then start their hike there.
We can even have their backpacks flown to Mt. Assiniboine on the helicopter (cost is $2.25/lb of weight). The hike will take around 9 hours depending on hiking ability. Hikers can either do this all at once or sleep over at the Bryant Creek shelter in the middle of the hike and come the next day. (A Banff National Park backcountry permit is required for an overnight stay at the shelter)
Those flying up on the helicopter (at a cost of $157/per-person/one-way) can head out to the Bow River in Canmore for some sunrise photography. We can then stop by somewhere in Canmore for breakfast. Then, we can either head back to the hostel to pick up belongings or head out directly to the Mt. Shark Helipad/trailhead. The helicopter flights start around 1pm and take about ten minutes.
Once at Mt. Assiniboine, the helicoptered-in people can 'check-in' at the lodge and then go to the 'Aster' hut and get their beds etc. setup and ready. Once done, we can hike around Lake Magog and even go for a day-hike for some views of the lake.
Those hiking-in will arrive in the late afternoon or early evening (or the next day, if doing this as a two-day hike). They can also check themselves in at the lodge and then setup their beds. We can all meet up at the cooking shelter in the evening at a time (to be set later). We can all have dinner there and plan the next day.
We will head out for some sunset photography as well. Once the sun sets, we can also do some Milky Way photography by the lake-shore. We will have a good four or five hours of dark skies (ie., no moon) after sunset on this weekend, which should provide optimal conditions. (As long as the weather cooperates, of course)
Saturday 20th September:
Wake up for sunrise photography. Then we have some breakfast in the cooking shelter. Then we're off for day-hiking (exact hikes to be determined later).
We will, again, do some sunset and night/milky-way photography that evening.
Sunday 21st September:
Wake up for sunrise photography. Then we have some breakfast in the cooking shelter.
There will be helicopter service today too, so if anyone wants to helicopter it back to the Mt. Shark helipad they can leave on this day and be back in Edmonton by the evening. The rest of us will go for some day-hiking (exact hikes to be determined later). We will, again, do some sunset and night/milky-way photography that evening.
Monday, 22nd September: Wake up for sunrise photography. Then we have some breakfast in the cooking shelter. Then we're off for the hike back down to Mt. Shark trailhead/helipad. This will take about 7 hours. If we set out at 9am from the lodge, we should be back at the carpark around 4pm or so. From there, one can drive all the way back to Edmonton - getting there in about five hours (so around 9pm).
Some (I, for one) will drive back into the Banff area to the HI Castle Mountain hostel to stay there for the Monday night. It's a neat place with beautiful scenery. Whoever wants to stay the Monday night (including me) will thus drive to the hostel (1h.45 min. drive) after getting to the Mt. Shark carpark. Note that you will need to either have a parks pass or pay for entry into Banff National Park at the gate, as we will thus be entering into the National Park here. We should be able to get to the hostel by 6pm. Can go to the Castle Mountain river-side lookout for the sunset (at 7:34pm). Sleep over at the hostel.
Tuesday, 23rd September:
Wake up for sunrise photography either at Castle Mountain river shore, Canmore (Bow River) or another location of our choosing. (Can even drive up to Vermillion Lakes or Two Jack Lake in Banff) Then we can either find a short hike somewhere, or just head back to Edmonton - returning home by the afternoon or early evening.
You will need to book your own 'Aster' Hut bed. A bed here costs $25/per-night. A three night stay will thus be $25x3 = $75. You can choose to stay there for one, two or three nights. Do let me know which option you choose! Regardless of how many nights you stay there, you must call the Mt. Assiniboine Lodge at (403)[masked] to book the bed (please specify the 'Aster' hut, if there is space there. If not, any other hut is fine too). Once you do, please post here in the comments section to let us know that you have (and for how many nights). Please note that when you book the bed it is non-refundable.
If you'd rather camp there, please post in the comments section here to let us know. Camping spots can not be reserved - they are taken as people arrive. They cost $10/per-night. You will have to pay this in cash when you arrive there.
You can take the helicopter to/from Mt. Assiniboine. The helicopter will cost $157/per-person/each-way. If you'd rather only have your backpack helicoptered over to the Mt. Assiniboine Lodge area, the cost for that is $2.25/lb. You will have to book the helicopter ride(s) yourself. (Same phone number as above) Note that the helicopter runs on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays only. Please also note that when you book the helicopter, it is partially refundable: You can cancel as long as you give them at least 48 hours' notice, although they will deduct $20 from the refund.
You will also have to book your own hostel bed(s) if you're staying in the Canmore area on Thursday night at The Hostel Bear and/or in the Banff area on Monday night at the HI Castle Mountain hostel. The cost for the hostels will be somewhere in the $30/per-person/per-night area. To reserve your bed at the Hostel Bear click here. To reserve your bed at HI Castle Mountain, click here.
Bring the food you need to get you through the weekend, especially for while you're in the Mt. Assiniboine area.
There is a cooking cabin with its own propane stoves (propane is provided), pots, pans and dishes. (You do need to bring a scrubby and dish soap however)
The interior of the cooking cabin looks like this:
There is no refrigerator here so try to not bring anything perishable. There are also food lockers at the cooking cabin where you must lock away your food. (You can't keep food in your hut)
You can try fishing at Lake Magog if you like. There's usually fish in there accessible from the shore. (You still need a fishing license, however) Of course, no guarantees on if you may catch something. :) So.. do have a 'Plan B' for food if fishing doesn't work out for you.
We will be staying at one of the Naiset Huts there, called 'Aster'.
The hut is essentially a cabin with double bunk-beds. Bunk beds have thin foam pads on them. Now... these bunk beds are 'double' ones, that is, each has space for two sleeping pads and sleeping bags per level, side-by-side. The cabin has two bunks. Sooo.. we can thus sleep eight people in the cabin (sooo.. 4 people per bunk: 2 per level).
The cost is $25 per person, per night.
The hut is essentially just a shelter with a wood fireplace (fire logs can be purchased at the lodge). There are three outhouses in the hut area (sorry, no attached washrooms here). Any garbage brought in needs to be packed out by you as well. There is water at the cooking shelter although.. I still do recommend boiling or purifying it just to be safe. There is no lighting at the huts so do bring a head-lamp or flashlight.
For the hostel(s) I will let you be responsible for calling the hostel(s) yourself and booking a bed. To book a bed at the Hostel Bear in Canmore for the Thursday night (18th September) click here. To book a bed at the HI Castle Mountain hostel for the Monday night (22nd September) click here.
Carpooling is being organised to transport people. Please enter your information into the carpool sign-up sheet if you can offer a ride in your vehicle or if you need a ride.
Hike-in and Hike-out Information
If you'd like to hike in to, or out of, Mt. Assiniboine from/to the Mt. Shark trailhead, here are its numbers:
Distance: 26.1 km
Elevation gain: 205 meters (670 feet)
Elevation loss: 580 meters (1,900 feet)
Maximum elevation: 2395 meters (7,850 feet)
Allow: 9-10 hours going to Mt. Assiniboine. 7-8 hours returning.
Gem Trek hiking map: 26620 Banff and Mount Assiniboine
Topographical maps: Spray Lakes Reservoir 82N/14 and Mount Assiniboine 82J/13
Banff National Park information: permits are required for overnights on Bryant Creek access route.
Detailed trail information for the hiking in/hiking out trails is here.
EVERYONE ON THE ATTENDEES LIST FOR THIS EVENT NEEDS TO ADD THEIR INFORMATION TO THE EVENT ATTENDEES SHEET. THANKS!
Some things that I would recommend bringing along with you include: Camera, tripod (if possible), non-perishable food for the weekend, sleeping bag, warm clothes (may be chilly at night/mornings), backpack or daypack, water purifying pump or tablets or sterilizing UV tool, good hiking boots, hiking poles if you use them, parks pass (if you have it, in case we decide to check out Banff on the way back), dish soap/scrubber for cleaning pots/pans, head-lamp/torch, sunscreen, bear spray (if you have it, just in case), fishing gear and license (if wanting to fish), etc.
For more information, photographs, hiking-in and hiking-out information, etc please check the Mt. Assiniboine Lodge Web site. To book your bed in 'Aster' hut at Mt. Assiniboine and/or a helicopter ride to/from Mt. Assiniboine, or for any other questions about your stay up at Mt. Assiniboine, please contact Mt. Assiniboine Lodge directly at (403) 678 2883. They are open from 8:30am to 2:30pm (Mountain time) on weekdays. Let them know that you're talking about the 'Canadian Rockies Photo-Hikers' stay there on the weekend of 19th September in 'Aster' hut.
Please check the 'More -> Files' menu/section on the CRPH Meetup site for checklists and the standard event attendee waiver (which you will be asked to sign when we all meet up during this weekend).
*Please note that this event may be cancelled or postponed in case of inclement weather or other issues. If this event does need to be cancelled or postponed, people who have RSVP'ed will be contacted directly.
BY ATTENDING THIS EVENT YOU (AND ANY GUESTS) ARE ACCEPTING (AND HOLDING YOURSELF RESPONSIBLE FOR) ANY RISKS THAT PERFORMING THIS TYPE OF OUTDOOR ACTIVITY COMES WITH, AS WELL AS ANY RISKS THE COME FROM THE TRANSPORTATION TO/FROM THIS LOCATION, HOWEVER UNLIKELY. YOUR EVENT COORDINATOR WILL DO THEIR BEST TO PROVIDE GUIDANCE AND CARE TO ATTENDEES BUT CAN NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE, LOSS OR INJURY THAT MAY OCCUR WHILE ON THIS TRIP.