We would probably never run out of places to visit in Canada as there are so many places to discover and explore in Banff Canada alone, with too little time. We visited these places on our vacation to Canada back when we were based in Singapore. Hence, our trips always seemed rushed. Now that we are based in Canada, we aren’t located near the Canadian Rockies.
We were there around the shoulder season in mid-October. We did not think that it would start snowing that soon on the trails. We went on a short hike initially without snowshoes through Healy Pass from Sunshine Village. We stayed a night at a campsite and hiked out the next day due to snow and we were not prepared with snowshoes. We had a whole lot of photos taken with the Snap Ion camera and lost all of our files.
So that’s unfortunate as we now have no photos from that trip and we almost forgot about that hike on Healy Pass from Sunshine Village. The beginning of that hike involved some hiking up a road from the Sunshine Village carpark and I recall that it was somewhat meh.
On our return, we rented snowshoes from a shop in Banff called Snowtips in Banff and headed off for another hike on Redearth to Shadow Lake. This trail is linked to the earlier trail on Healy Pass through Pharaoh Creek. We were thinking to attempt to hike around the area from another place and Redearth seemed like the next best access point.
The Redearth – Shadow Lake hike is about 14km one-day and a 440m elevation gain. Most of the gain is closer to Shadow Lake. It was already snowing for sometime when we got there but it gradually got heavier as we progressed into the hike. The snowshoes we’d rented came in handy and I got to try on snowshoes for the first time in my life – as you know, I grew up in a tropical country, Singapore and even with my time overseas where there were four seasons, there was no need for me to be wearing snowshoes at all. I’ve worn Yaktrax before, but that’s different, and it wasn’t as good as I’d expected it to be.
We got to the Shadow Lake campsite close to sunset and it was dark by the time we’ve set up our tent and had our romantic dinner by headlights and falling snow at the ‘dining’ area. The dining area is a few meters away from the tent to avoid attracting bears. Bears are constantly on our minds when we are in backcountry and a benefit of hiking in the snow is being about to spot tracks. We’ve seen tracks of smaller animals but were fortunate not to have seen bear tracks. We’ve come across bear scat on a couple of our hikes before but glad not to have seen any bears while hiking. Apparently, bear tracks in deep snow wouldn’t look like the usual bear print as they often use a direct-register walk in deep snow, which looks like this.
It snowed almost the entire night and we spent the night knocking off snow from the tent. Sourcing for water was difficult I recall, as there wasn’t a nearby stream and to get water, we would have to walk a few meters to where the Shadow Lodge is as there’s a stream nearby. We trudged around the area looking for a spot to have breakfast and didn’t find anywhere we could eat.
We ended up having our breakfast on the porch of the Lodge which was empty and locked (of course) at that time, as it was in the shoulder season.
We love winter camping or shoulder season just because there are fewer people, no bugs but we do miss the beautiful and vibrant spring and summer landscapes.
Note: Don’t go camping without your Z lite Thermarest pads! This is one of the best weight and bulk investments for camping, for better sleep. I’m quite a fussy sleeper (and this is one of the ways I deal with camping in the backcountry) and this sleeping pad makes a difference. I’ve had one of those manual inflatable pads and they just make you colder since the cold air from the ground still hits your back or body through the air around the inflated pads. I do bring a lot of sleeping equipment: Z lite, self-inflating pads (which still require a little bit of help), sleeping bag and two different sleeping bag liners for winter camping, which provide a layering sleeping system. You probably won’t need the outer sleeping bag shell for summer camping or warmer weather.