Skyline Hikers of the Canadian Rockies

2017 at Waterton Lakes National Park

We celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday in an area of the Canadian Rockies that Skyline Hikers had never visited before. Waterton Lakes National Park is unique in the panoramic view of the Rockies as they rise magnificently out of the prairie, and hikers who have been there offer glowing reports of the hikes in the park.

Please view the video in the gallery of various scenes from in and around the park taken by our hikers (duration about 2 minutes).

What happened to Sunset Pass? Typically, the process takes 24 months to plan and deliver successful, safe, and environmentally sustainable camps, working closely with our longstanding outfitter, Brewster Mountain Pack Train Ltd. Unfortunately, we were unable to finalize our outfitter contract for Sunset Pass 2017, and so we had to cancel and cancel and re-scheduled returning to this marquee location until 2019.

With the change in venue to Waterton, we were able to plan for an additional day of hiking, as we left Calgary on Sunday, making Monday a full hiking day. This was considered our unique and novel Canada 150 adventure as along with the usual challenging hiking and fun friendship time, we also planned some historic experiences en route that enriched our Canada 150 experience, and we waived the membership fee as a Canada 150 birthday present to our members.

We looked forward to celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday in Waterton. We expected that all of us would be more than satisfied with the hiking choices available and returned home once again in 2017 thrilled with the Skyline Experience! After all, as long as there are Skyline friends celebrating in the majestic Canadian Rockies, we have a great time!!

The camp dates were:

  • July 16 to 22
  • July 23 to 29
  • July 30 to August 5
  • August 6 to 12
  • August 13 to 19

With the departure from Calgary on Sunday, we toured the historic Bar U Ranch as we traveled down the Cowboy Trail (highway 22) to our camp. On the return trip, we toured at Fort MacLeod, original home of the North-West Mounted Police, and Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump, a world heritage site.

For the next five days, a choice of several group hikes were offered each day. Each day hike was led by a volunteer leader. Hikers were prepared to hike over rough trails (many above the tree line) for 5 to 25 km per day with elevation gains of 200 to 1000 meters. Hike times averaged 6 to 7 hours per day including stops. Because of the location of the camp, shuttle buses were used to deliver hikers to the trailheads in the morning and pick them up each evening.

Camp life provided an interesting contrast to the peacefulness of the trail. Meal times in the dining tent were happy, noisy affairs. The camp was located at the Waterton Springs Campground (see map below). We used one corner of their overflow camping area with flat grassy campsites. Because this is a commercial campground, there were other campers in the area, however, we were in a remote corner beside a pond and installed our electric fence to keep our camp separate and secure. One of the advantages was that the campground did have flush toilets and hot showers, a luxury not available in our usual back-country camps. We hired a company to bring in a portable kitchen to the camp to offer the full meal service. The camp was within range of cell phone service.

The camaraderie continued around the evening campfire where a description of hikes planned for the following day were given. It was also a time for singing, recounting of the day’s events and telling of tall tales.


Gem Trek map reference:

  • Waterton Lakes National Park, Scale 1:50,000

Shown below is a map from the Waterton Lakes National Park’s website. Click on the map to see a larger image.