We are still out of breath from the amazing and unexpected adventure at Stanley Glacier, but we jump headlong in another one. Our destination is still 7 km from here, deep in the woods, along the Redheart Creek, on the path towards Shadow Lake. Tomorrow, instead, we already know we will walk up to the Gibbon Pass and then who knows, so, our usual great long walk!
It is already night once we get to the campground and almost dark. Still, a really bad surprise it waiting for us: the only two free campsites are uselss, one is actually a pond of mud and the other, totally not maintened, it is a jungle and it is not possible to pitch a tent in there. Not bad, since we have paid 30$ for this! For sure we will write a complaint about it. We ust pitch the ent under a tree in the big meadow where the other campsites are and after a really short dinner we go straight to bed.
We actually sleep almost for twelve hours, totally resting for our next day. In the morning, a bright sun is waiting for us and we don’t make it wait: we don’t pack the tent yet and leave all the stuff we don’t need in it, then we start to walk.
Some catwalks and boardwalks lead to the Shadow Lake Lodge, a small complex of cabins built up in a meadow one kilometer from the lake, amazing. We would have a night here for sure, if not for the 250$ each it costs, and even if everything is included – a big breakfast, a pic-nic pack for lunch full of delicious treats, tea and cookies at 5 pm and a five star dinner – it is way too much or our budget.
We decide to visit the lake at last and heading straight to the Gibbon Pass and we immediately forget the easy, flat path which has lead us here.
Infact, as soon as we turn from the junction, we start to climb a really steep trail with narrow switchbacks, with some blooming meadows here and there, with lots of different flowers in so many shapes and colours.
In less than one hour, we get to the pass, we have conquered Gibbon Pass! We get over the last woods and in front of us a big, wide, green valley opens, surrounded from high peaks on the two sides still snowed on top and a lot of bright blue sky over our heads.
We walk another hundreds meters, again towards the opposite forest and we finally find the cairn we saw in a picture on our loyal guide.
We are at 7500 feet, something around 2300 meters above sea level. The air is fresh and brisk and we decide to camp here for a little while to eat some calories: yep, bagel, potato salad, little carrots and some cookies, again, what for some creativity eh ?!?! 🙂
While we enjoy our delicious lunch, we cannot avoid to admire the mountain in front of us, the Copper Mountain, named after its colour, copper indeed. It is a huge hill, its peak rounded and from up there two other hikers yell us a big hello.
Once we are done with our lunch, we have to take the challenge: Copper Mountain is waiting for us! What we actually don’t know, it the struggle waiting for us.
We begin to walk a non-marked path, still clearly traced but lots of feet before which had walked this way before us. It points straight to the top, passing in the wood and then aiming on top. Actually, the other two hikers are walking down on the left ridge, but we make no questions and just aim to the top with the shortest way.
After just some minutes, we get to know that we will never reach the top! We already have walked many kilometers and after just some steps on the totally steep slope, our legs are begging to stop. We get almost 3/4 up, in a more or less flat part and it is here that we decide to stop, mostly because we still have a long way down and to the car and it is better to have some energies stored.
The view is satisfactory anyway: the Shadow Lake with its bright blue on one side and a tiny little corner of the Upper Twin Lake on the other. A high peak is towering just among them and lots are playing hide and seek behind it.
We take a short break, enjoying the silence and the breathtaking view, then it is time to get in motion again and shortly we are at the junction for the Shadow Lake, the struggle of the steep walk up already forgotten.
The kilometer to get to the Shadow Lake is really fast and mostly flat, deep in the wood. Suddenly, at the end of it, weu get to the lake shore and are welcome by the majestic Mount Ball, right in front of us, with its iced cap and the blue, frozen-cold water pouring down directly from the top into the lake.
We are speechless and, even better, there is a little bridge crossing the lake branch, the further from the mountain. We decide to stop here for a while and we immediately fall asleep: this place is so relaxing and amazing.
There is another girl here, alone, who has found, as well as us, that this place is the right one to enjoy a book, comfy sitting on the little bridge, the only sound the one fo the water flowing and some birds tweetting.
Too soon we need to stand up and leave this incredible wild corner of nature: it is time to start our way back, we still have some ten kilometers to walk and a tent to pack.
Soon we are at the campground, we pack the tent and fill up our backpack, now heavy again. Then there are 7 km waiting before getting to the car, all ups and downs.
The map they gave us at the Visitor Center actually mislead us, since it is written this trail is ust 4 km long, but we make a count of how long did it took us on the way to here and we know our guide is more plausible than the map. So, we just prepare ourselves to the hour and a half remaining.
Once we get to the parking lot – actually just one hour and twentyfive minutes after! – our feet are done: the account of these two days of hiking – that is actually more some 24 hours! – it’s not that bad, we have walked for more than 45 km and for sure we have climbed somthing around 1700 meters heightdrop, even a lot of it without backpack.
Satisfied and really tired, we get back in the car: being finally seated is a great relief and a good calories intake in Banff make us get home totally cheerful.
See you for the next adventure!