Things are getting busier and busier for me at work, and it looks as if they’ll stay near their current level for the rest of August. Bear with me.
I finally had a couple of days off in a row, and squeezed in a camping trip to Sibbald Lake Provincial Recreation Area. I’ve been there before, and both times I’ve been surprised that I never visited this area in my childhood. It’s that kind of campground. Well-treed, with a little lake, some easy hiking trails, and a playground. It’s laid out in the loops I remember from trips to Gull Lake, Sylvan Lake, and others, which we kids loved to ride our bikes around and around and around. Squirrels, frogs, and unusual bugs abound, and I glimpsed a loon on the lake the first evening.
The lack of showers isn’t a problem for a lot of us, but there is one drawback worth mentioning: the water from the pump is marked as being unsafe for drinking, and it looks like it. Purification tablets may kill the germs, but they won’t change its color. I would strongly recommend bringing a water filter or an ample supply of your own drinking water. I didn’t know beforehand that this would be an issue, so although I had my tablets with me, I settled on boiling my water for several minutes, and then letting it sit for a minute or two for the particles to settle out.
I hope I didn’t scare you there. If you can work around the water issue, this is a great place to visit for a couple of days.
My plan for the full day between my two nights had been to hike up one of the Hunchback Hills and break out the portable easel at the summit. Things didn’t go as planned, because there’d been a downpour the night before, dark clouds gathered, and I was anxious to get back to my campsite to be prepared if any more thunderstorms hit. Due to my haste, my latest easel shot only features half a painting:
(I finished it in camp under ominous clouds with thunder rumbling in the distance, but there was no rain for several hours, and I relaxed for most of the evening with my one-volume edition of The Lord of the Rings and some Jiffy Pop.)
On the hike itself, Gillean Daffern has much more to say here, which is one of very few relevant sites that comes up if you Google “Hunchback Hills.” Blogging a year ago, she expressed concerns that the logging road may soon be rehabilitated, making it much harder to access this area. With the recent flooding and so many better-known trails having been damaged, I think it’s safe to say it’ll be a while before anything happens that way. There wasn’t much debris on the road, but there was one deep, foot-wide gully to jump across, and a large sinkhole beside the road in one of the clear-cut sections.
I had been a bit concerned about the creek crossings the map shows, but they posed no difficulty: the first creek passes under the logging road through a series of culverts, and there’s a sturdy metal bridge at the second crossing. Both, however, were almost completely dry.
I waited longer than her route map suggested to leave the logging road and take to the ridge, and ended up contending with a clear-cut swath covered in debris. If I had followed the directions, I would have had a steepish step to start me off, but the terrain would have been “a pleasant mix of meadow, and aspen-pine mix with grass underfoot.”
With the wind picking up and my worries about the weather, I had been walking for less than an hour and a half, all told, and was perhaps halfway up the hill when I stopped to enjoy the view and find a good place to paint. The panoramic views into Kananaskis Country (the patch of blue is Barrier Lake) were worth the trouble, and are probably even better from the summit.