Overnight at the Bugaboos
As far as hidden gems go, you'll be hard pressed to find ones better than Bugaboos provincial park. Located in west BC, near the town of Golden and close to the Alberta border, the Bugaboos are a favourite amongst locals and particularly alpine climbers, who probably have the Bugaboos spire on their climbing bucket list. Even besides the climbing attractions (which I am far too novice for), the Bugaboos are fantastic place to hike and camp, and that's the purpose of this blog post.
I came back to the Rockies in early fall, with hopes of catch the beginning of larch season. A friend from Canmore had said that the fall colours and yellow larches make fall his favourite season in the Rockies. He had also just come back from camping at the Bugaboos himself, which led me to researching the area, and I was blown away by the peaks and glaciers in the area, and particularly by the Conrad Kain hut. You had a small hut ( that can be booked ) overlooking a huge valley. I was going to be in the Rockies for 4 days, and I was set on doing spending two of them here for an overnight trip. I convinced another friend from the Canmore area to join along and we started the drive to Bugaboos provincial park on a late September Sunday. The drive to the trail head was pretty straight forward, though for almost two hours you'll be driving on a (very) rough backcountry road, and if you care about your vehicle's suspension and/or tires, I recommend driving slowly. Note that you need to type in "Conrad Kain Trailhead" into you GPS. If you put "Bugaboos provincial park" it won't work.
Once arriving at the trailhead parking lot, you'll find ALOT of chicken wire, long pieces of wood, and rocks lying around. Apparently the porcupine in the area chew your vehicle break lines, so you need to wrap your car in chicken wire, then support the wire with sticks in rocks. I wish I had taken a picture of it, but you can see an example here. The path is pretty straightforward to follow. To reach the Applebee campground, that's right by Conrad Kain hut, you're looking at 9km round trip with just under 1000 m of elevation gain. The trails elevation gain occurs in short stretches rather than throughout the hike, so you'll experience both strenuous and relaxing bits. Throughout the hike, you'll almost always see the Bugaboo glacier, which is a useful point to gage how far you are from the campground. You'll also cross meadows with beautiful wildflower and even have to climb a ladder at one point.
We arrived at the campground in about 3 hours, and started to set up camp. It was completely overcast that evening so we didn't get a sunset. After set up, we had instant noodles, stashed our food, then called it a night. The next morning though, the conditions were perfect and it was exactly how I imagined sunrise would look there. There was partial cloud coverage, but it was clear enough for the sun to peak over the mountains.
Eventually, the light flooded the valley and we had a pretty perfect alpine sunrise. As far as landscape photography goes, this is probably my favourite thing to witness.
Overall I couldn't have asked for better conditions, and for someone that's from across the country, I'm always grateful for the times where I can experience good weather in the Rockies. I look forward to coming back here for a longer duration and exploring the alpine. areas more. Last but not least, it's always a plus to do these treks with a friend, besides all the pragmatic safety and having company reasons, you'll have someone to take a picture of you :).
Hope you enjoyed the pictures and quick read. Have you been to the Bugaboos? -Ash