We Conquered the Matterhorn of the Canadian Rockies
A group of nine women found adventure and friendship on a four-day hiking trip to Mount Assiniboine Park.
The Experience of a Lifetime
I am a member of a Facebook group of like-minded women who enjoy the outdoors. It is a place to meet new people and do things together. I noticed a post from one woman named Richelle, which included a photo of Mount Assiniboine—known as the Matterhorn of the Canadian Rockies—who was looking for women who would be interested in a Mount Assiniboine hike on Canada Day weekend. The photo was stunning and I immediately signed up! Shortly thereafter, a small group of us met at another member’s home, Nadine, and drafted out a plan of what to do.
I had taken a few multi-day hikes before, but I was not all that experienced. I have to admit I was a little intimidated by some of these hardcore hikers, and was a little concerned about being able to complete the 60-plus kilometers in four days. While researching the routes, I discovered that you could actually helicopter off the mountain instead of hiking. That seemed like a great way to end the trip and, surprisingly, flights were reasonably priced. In the end, half the group decided to fly out, while the rest would hike out.
Over the next few days, there was a flurry of Facebook messages and phone calls as hotels, transfers and helicopters were booked. As the departure date got closer, we would meet up one more time to finalize details and do some pre-trip planning. All told, there were nine of us who went on the Mount Assiniboine hike.
Our Mount Assiniboine Hike
There are three different trails you can take on a Mount Assiniboine hike; we decided to take the route that begins in Sunshine Village. On our first day, we travelled from Canmore, Alberta, and took the gondola up to the start of the trail at Sunshine Village. That day, we hiked 12 kilometres to Porcupine Lake and camped there for the night. Although we planned to stop at Og Lake the second night, our group was making good time so we hiked the entire 22 kilometres straight through to Lake Magog, which is at the base of Mount Assiniboine. We arrived at the overflow campground about 5 p.m. on our second day.
On the third day, our group did a 12-kilometre hike to two peaks called the Niblet and the Nub. This was by far the highlight of the trip. The weather was perfect and the view was breathtaking. We stopped for lunch on the Niblet with Mount Assiniboine in the background, surrounded by Lake Magog, with Elizabeth, Sunburst and Cerulean Lakes about 1,000 feet below.
There is also a lodge along with some cabins on the mountain, so if you don’t want to rough it you can stay there instead. There is not a lot of room in the campground; we were bumped into the overflow camping area and even that was packed. Either way, you need to plan and book ahead!
A Canada Day to Remember
Being the long weekend, the lodge was serving cake. On Canada Day, we wandered over to the lodge hoping for a piece, but sadly by the time we got there, they had run out. We decided to celebrate with a few glasses of wine and beer instead—not a bad way to end the day!
You would think that having nine women who were strangers meet up and plan a trip that required them to spend five days together might be a mistake, but, as things turned out, we all got along great. I believe the love of the great outdoors we all share created an immediate bond and connection. I made new friends and had the experience of a lifetime!
If this Mount Assiniboine hike has you lacing up your boots, be sure to check out our countdown of Canada’s best hiking trails.