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Castlecrag Mountain (Strathcona Park)

This past weekend, I had enjoyed some relaxed backpacking and a long hike up Castlecrag Mountain.

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Castlecrag: Looking very pointy and castle like!

It is one of the four smaller mountains near Mt. Albert Edward, which is the most popular objective in this area.

But a number of circumstances drew me to this lesser climbed peak.

One was that it was a long weekend and thus it was impossible to walk on the main trails without saying hello to someone in what felt like every 5 minutes.

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Crowds near “Circus” Lake

While it’s really great to see so many people enjoying the outdoors, I prefer my nature with less people sometimes.

Another reason was that it was my dear friend’s first backpacking trip! So I suggested a trip that was a bit scaled back to keep everything relaxed.

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Pamela and Jes: Long time hiking buddies. First time backpacking buddies.

Rather than heading to the more popular Circlet Lake, we camped at the slightly closer Kwai Lake, mostly on pleasant flat trails.

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Gorgeous views too.

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We got the last “official” camping spot around 3pm on Saturday.  Over the next few hours, about 10-20 more people moved in with tents popping up in every flat space imaginable.

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This photo of Kwai Lake strategically avoids all tents.
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This one does not.

The next morning, we headed off towards Moat Lake and Castlecrag.

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Can you spot the helicopter?

I’d never seen Moat Lake from this perspective, and it’s huge!  There are cabins for rent. And when we walked by, there was a helicopter parked there too. (#jealous)

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The trail then got a bit steeper and went up a ridge. We had hiked for about three hours.

Pamela decided that it was enough hiking for her that day and she decided to head back to camp.

I am not one to shy away from scampering off into the mountains alone. So I decided I would hike up the ridge and go from there.

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Cannot lie, I love hiking alone.

I ran into two families with their kids, eating lunch. I chatted with them for a bit before heading on my way.

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I was starting to feel really tired at this point, as this was a much bigger push than I had done in a really long time.  (Back injury and all).

And then I saw this stupid scree slope.

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Since I’ve been injured, I find I have to go so slowly on scree. I need to not slip and mess up my back again.

This is my I HATE ROCKS face.  But I did it anyway.

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My slow pokiness let the families with kids catch up to me.  We approach the last push to the summit together.

The youngest kid (nine years old!) was quite tired and way more into feeding the Whiskey Jacks than summits. Her dad decided to go back and wait with her on the ridge.

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I was getting ready to go back myself, as I had only about 40 minutes until my turn around time. But then I thought there was no harm just going forward to see how far I could go.

But my new friend (the marine mechanic from Nanaimo), two preteen hockey players and myself … we all talked ourselves into going a bit further.

And after some fast packless hiking … with minutes to spare… the four of us made it!

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I then learned it was a first alpine summit for two of them. Awesome experience to share that! We didn’t spend very long up there, as it was getting late.

The kids could have run down the mountain if they had been allowed to. I kept saying they did not have to wait for me, but my new friend was quite insistent that it was better to stay together … if I did not mind their company. And I did not!

After about an hour of hiking down, we met up with rest of their group.

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Five new friends.

Hiking with kids was really great. They had so much energy and curiosity. They really wanted to see a bear paw print, but sadly there were none.

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They also made us stop for blueberries.  No complaints.

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I ate all the blueberries.

By the time we got to Circlet Lake for our final 4km push, it was almost dark.  And then it started raining.

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I was feeling so grateful for the company at the moment. It was pretty hard to be staring down your 12th hour of hiking … in the rain … as the sun was setting. At least all of us silly people were doing it together.

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Rain rain rain.

I was very happy to come home to my dry tent and warm dinner (thank you Pamela!)

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The next day we hiked out. Another great adventure in the alpine!!

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Haven’t showered in three days and don’t care.
I love being outdoors, especially in the mountains. I live on Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada.

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