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cabin, Cabin, CABIN! (Part 1)

Report Submitted by Mike W
(trip) Date: Sunday Apr 28, 2024

Submitted: Saturday May 11, 2024 at 00:08


Me on my Sporten Explorer 64 "Cabin" Edition skin skis


So many cabins left to explore! Now that I've done my taxes and repaired the stairs up to my front door that collapsed a few weeks ago, I can report on my April 28 excursion. Back to the Mount Shark trailhead, but instead of heading south to the Palliser Warden Cabin, the destination was the Bryant Creek Warden Cabin to the northwest, with stops along the way at the Trail Centre Warden Cabin, Bryant Creek Shelter, and Marvel Lake and Owl Lake on the way back. As before, I was the only car in the parking lot when I pulled in at 9am under overcast skies and a moderate breeze. The temperature was +3C and there had not been an overnight freeze. Despite that, the Watridge Lake Trail was hard frozen. The snow at the trailhead was about 4cm deep, increasing to 30cm near Watridge Lake with one bare patch across the trail where I had to walk. There were fewer and shallower boot prints this time around, and it looked like someone had skate skied the trail the previous day.

The top 1cm of snow on the steep slope down to the Spray was much softer than expected, which made for an easy descent. Once across the Spray bridge I turned right, crossed the Bryant Creek bridge, and dropped in on the Trail Centre Warden Cabin about 0.5km past the bridge.

Total distance: 40.40 Km

Entering Banff National Park after crossing the Spray River bridge.

Bridge over Bryant Creek

Side trail on the left to the Trail Centre Warden Cabin

Trail Centre Warden Cabin

Next stop 2.5km further was the Big Springs campground.

Big Springs creek & bridge

Off again for another 2.5km to the Owl Lake trail junction. The photo below shows the typical state of the Bryant Creek trail: shallow but sufficient snowpack with an old raised ski track. The snow off the track was marginally supportive and you'd often fall through. It was firm on the track, but next to impossible to keep the skis on the raised track. The best approach was to have one ski on the supportive snow in the depression between the two tracks, and the other ski on or just outside one of the tracks.

Raised ski tracks

From there, 2km brings you to the Bryant Creek Shelter.

Bryant Creek Shelter with a Closed sign on the door. The BNP website says "All backcountry shelters are currently unavailable."

View from the Bryant Creek Shelter

From the shelter, it's only a few hundred metres to a fancy weather station, McBride's Camp, and the Bryant Creek Warden Cabin where I sat down for lunch.

Fancy weather station halfway between the shelter and the Warden Cabin. Anyone know if it's online? I couldn't find it.

From the weather station, looking up-valley toward Assiniboine, Og, and Allenby Passes. Note the bridge across Bryant Creek at the bottom left of the photo.

Bryant Creek Warden Cabin

A glimpse of Assiniboine through the clouds

To be continued in Part 2, where things took a darker turn...

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