Have you ever had to drive through a creek to get to where you were camping? Have you ever stopped to fill up your drinking water container and been asked if you wanted to compete in a pie eating contest? Have you seen a cemetery with less than five gravestones? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be familiar with my new favourite Rockies spot – the David Thompson Highway; between Saskatchewan River Crossing and Rocky Mountain House, also the home of the beautiful Abraham Lake.
Stepping just a few minutes off the crazy, chaotic, tourist-filled Icefields Parkway, and you will find yourself in what feels like an untouched piece of the Rockies. There are dozens of campgrounds and it’s the home to thousands of people, but it feels remote and wild. Jo and I joked that when we needed to escape the tourist parts of the Rockies, we would come here, to the Nordegg area.
We camped at Crescent Falls Campground, a provincially owned, locally run, campground that is about 20 minutes from Nordegg, a historic and quaint little village. We literally had to drive through a creek to get into the campground, but it was worth it because we found a cute spot super close to the river, and it was located fairly near our two planned trailheads for upcoming hikes.
On Friday, we did the Vision Quest Ridge hike in the afternoon after setting up camp at Crescent Falls. It was a relentless climb straight up the Vision Quest ridge, climbing over 2500ft in just under 3km, similar in feeling to EEOR or Ha Ling. The views at the top are worth it. You are surround with fantastic peaks and a stunning view of Abraham Lake. There is even a little Inukshuk to greet you at the summit! We were up and down, with a brief refuelling lunch break at the top, in just under four hours. We took our time on the way down and enjoyed the gorgeous day on the mountain.
We spent the remainder of the day reading, chatting, and drinking a couple beer. There is nothing like the sheer exhaustion that comes over you after a day of fresh air and outdoor exploration – I think we were both sleeping by 10pm!
On Saturday we conquered the Allstones Lake hike. We had stopped in Nordegg to check out the village and fill up our water bottles, and we found some cell service to check the weather. It said it would be thunderstorming all day and night, but as we gazed around at the bright blue cloudless sky, it was hard to imagine. As you know, the weather in the Rockies can change in less than five minutes, but we decided to go ahead with this quick hike and play the rest of the day by ear.
Allstones Lake is a moderate hike, with a pretty steady climb up to the lake. It covers just about 2200ft of elevation gain in a 2.5km distance. It definitely gets your heart pounding. We saw a few families on the trail as it’s not a technical hike, just a good lung-buster. You climb mostly through the forest and wind up at a little lake in a pass of the mountains. It has a few backcountry camping spots as well.
As we reached the lake, we could see the dark clouds all around us, and distant thunder forced us to practically run back down the mountain. We finished the hike in a speedy 2 hours and 40 minutes. We were under the only patch of blue sky left and luckily finished our hike without a single raindrop but as we headed back to our campsite, we saw that a thunderstorm had just rolled through, flooded our campground, raised the creek we had to drive through, and completely soaked our gear. We made the decision to cut our camping a night short, load up the wet gear, and head out instead of spending the night damp and uncomfortable in a tent surrounded by thunderstorms.
Jo and I parted ways, and I headed back home, covered in sweat and dirt, but proud of my weekend of adventure. I didn’t know that the scariest part of my trip had yet to come, as I drove through 200km of thunderstorm from Rocky Mountain House to Edmonton. I couldn’t see for 20% of the trip, and only stayed on the road by following the taillights in front of me. I hydroplaned three times, and may or may not have cried as the lightning cracked around me for two hours straight. I guess my camping trip was too easy and didn’t really challenge me enough, so the universe had to step in and throw one last curveball at me before I reached home. 😉
How was your long weekend?
Have you ever been to this area of the Rockies?
In case you missed it –> My experience hiking solo.