Tryst Lake and Chester Lake are in the same vicinity on opposite sides of the Smith-Dorrien Trail.
This day will experience two short hikes in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park within close proximity to each other. The morning will be consumed by the hike into tiny, sub-alpine Tryst Lake, and the afternoon will enjoy time at nearby and always-popular Chester Lake.
The drive west from Calgary on the TransCanada Highway to Canmore, continues south on the Smith-Dorrien Trail past the Nordic Ski Center and Spray Lakes. Recent hot weather has left the gravel road bone dry and dusty. A quick stop at Buller Pond provides an opportunity for a photo over the tranquil, reflective surface.
Near the turn from the Smith-Dorrien Trail into Engaldine Lodge and Shark Lake, a young moose shares enjoyment of warm morning sun.
Buller Pond and a moose calf in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada
The day is warming rapidly as the 3 KM (1⅞ mile) hike begins into Tryst Lake from the small parking area turning left off the road to the Mount Shark ski area. The first half of the hike is level on excellent trail. A large cairn marks the right turn into forest where a short, steep, overgrown, rugged trail will lead to tiny and spectacular Tryst Lake.
Spring runoff has washed out several portions of the 1.5 KM ascent trail but, in hiking sandals, there is no issue negotiating the refreshing water or off-trailing around dead-fall, scree and snow patches. This hike is a beautiful and exhilarating ascent that eventually leads over the top of a ridge into an alpine meadow. The pristine lake is backed by a formidable rock feature appropriately called 'The Fist'. Tent Ridge looms above the far end of the tiny, picturesque lake.
The Fist above Tryst Lake
Being the only person here affords the opportunity to enjoy the lake and mountains without distraction and this is a day of rest from more aggressive missions. Photographs are taken in very tight quarters before finding a comfortable place in a lake-adjacent rock fall to sunbathe and leisurely enjoy lunch with my new little buddy 'Chipmunk'.
Tryst Lake is crystal-clear with no visible evidence of fish on this day. Across the tree-lined shore, and beyond the Fist, is the smooth and symmetrical Tent Ridge whose summit is accessible from right hand parking a short distance further up the road to the Mount Shark Day Use Area. Today there is contentment in relaxing among the flowers and moss. Tryst Lake is a very beautiful and peaceful place. Today there is no need to conquer anything.
Following a leisurely lunch beside Tryst Lake, this hiking day continues with a return to the car, via the route hiked in, before driving south on the Smith-Dorrien Trail a few kilometers to the Chester Lake parking area across the road from parking for Burstall Pass. Hiking the relatively consistent elevation gain to Chester Lake brings recollection of many prior hikes and snowshoe trips to Chester Lake and beyond.
Popping over the ridge to a kilometer of good flat trail, a right turn over the creek on a log bridge leads to a the well-beaten path to the lower scree slope of Chester Mountain and a significant talus rock fall. Chester Lake is crystal clear, emerald and teeming with fish.
Chester Lake is a larger lake by mountain standards, perhaps a ½ KM across with a tree-lined shore surrounded by tall mountains. The top of The Fortress is clearly visible in the distance. On return to the lake shore, the next hour is spent taking photos and playing in the cold water.
The return to the car initiates the drive south on Smith-Dorrien Trail, then across the bottom on Kananaskis Lakes Road for the drive north on Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40) where a large herd of about 40 mountain sheep are running single file up the side of a rocky hill and into cover of forest. It is special to see so many sheep in flight at the same time.
On the drive home there is the often obligatory stop at Fortress Junction to purchase Arizona Blueberry Green Tea for the drive home to Calgary, Alberta, Canada.