Rummel Lake is a popular hike in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
On a gorgeous bluebird day near the end of a long and lingering winter, the drive west from Calgary, and south on Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40), pauses for the customary photos at the bridge over Evan-Thomas Creek to review progress on the reconstruction of the Bill Milne Trail ‘bridge to nowhere’ after the devastation of the June 2013 flood. It is also an excellent location to view The Wedge and The Fortress. The objective for this day is a solo hike with hiking crampons to Rummel Lake and beyond to Rummel Pass.
Following the drive south on Kananaskis Trail to the winter gate, (scheduled to open June 15), and a short drive west on Kananaskis Lakes Road, the turn right near the entrance to the Pocaterra Hiking and X-Country Ski Facility begins the drive north on the Smith-Dorrien Trail which eventually leads to Canmore. The dry gravel road is surprisingly free of snow and ice, and easier to navigate than expected.
After passing Peninsula, Black Prince, Sawmill, Chester Lake and Burstall Pass exits, the Spray Lake Provincial Park component of Kananaskis Country soon arrives at the junction leading to Mount Engadine Lodge and the Mount Shark (Mount Marushka) Cross Country Ski Complex.
The car is parked at roadside. Hiking crampons and gaiters are worn. Snowshoes are left in the trunk of the car but in hindsight should have been strapped to the backpack in the event they might be needed at higher elevations. At roadside the trail begins on 0.6 meters (2 feet) of packed snow trail with a light dusting of overnight snow.
The snowshoe trail is hard packed with a light dusting of crisp overnight snow at the beginning. Crampons are effective. Snowshoes are not required. Absolutely gorgeous late winter day.
Surrounding mountain views expand as dense forest morphs into more open area. Mount Galatea and The Tower frame the location where Rummel Lake is nestled between them. The hike from the road to the lake is about 5.0 KM (3.1 miles) with an elevation gain near 396 m (1,300 ft) to an elevation of 2,210 m (7,250 ft). The entrance into the final forest features scenic moss and a variety of snow sculptures along the route which is longer and less direct than might be expected. The outhouse on the left signals imminent arrival at Rummel Lake where spectacular Mount Galatea consumes the field of vision. The biffy has a lot of snow on the roof. The door will open enough to allow me to squeeze through with pack removed. The door is held open as wide as possible to prevent being trapped inside if the snow slides off the roof.
The view explodes immediately on exit from the forest. Mount Galatea soars above the snow-covered flat plain of frozen Rummel Lake. Spectacular!
The hike continues along the length of Rummel Lake to a faint ski trail up and through forest in the direction of The Tower before taking a right turn towards Rummel Pass wedged between The Tower and Mount Galatea. Eventually the trail disappears but the snow-covered crust is still able to hold body weight.
The distance from the lake to the pass is an additional 2.4 KM (1½ miles) with a height gain above the lake of 192 m (630 ft). As the mountains converge at the pass, avalanche territory is entered on a rapidly warming day. The hike proceeds over the top of 2.5 m (8 ft) of snow. Although the risk seems low the hike is abandoned a kilometer short of the objective. With the snowshoes the hike could have continued. Hiking solo. Another day. Staying safe.
On the return hike to Rummel Lake the view of mountain peaks on the west horizon is inspirational. Footsteps are retraced and photographs of mountains in the distance are captured.
Back at Rummel Lake, an abandoned winter shelter is chosen to enjoy lunch in warm and brilliant sun. Rummel Lake is the only location in Kananaskis Country which permits winter camping. It is difficult to leave Rummel Lake in such stellar winter conditions but after a hearty lunch and a last look back the return hike begins past the biffy on the same trail taken in. There is no-one else on the mountain. The only footprints are mine.
Exiting the top forest into the more open area, the views of Spray Lake and surrounding mountains are absolutely fantastic. The beauty on this fine day takes the breath away. Following are few photographs and a supplemental video.
The vista takes the breath away on this spectacular day. The remainder of the descent to the Smith-Dorrien Trail is expedited by the use of an off-trail alternative which provides a more direct route through the lower forest. Back at the trail-head, the drive south on the Smith-Dorrien Trail returns to Calgary via Kananaskis Trail to enjoy one of the all-time favorite views south into the Fisher Range. There will be time to stop for a bit of reconnaissance at Galatea.
One of my all-time perennial favorite views in Kananaskis on the final south hill of the Smith-Dorrien Trail
Photographs for this Rummel Lake hike were taken on April 20, 2014.