Karen and I love getting off of the beaten path. I always wanted to do this trip but it involved portaging our canoe 2.5 km and a major river ford in both directions. We saw an incredible stretch of fantastic weather so we loaded up our backcountry gear and the boat. We packed light and we had a plan called "Leap Frog" in order to get the boat into our destination. As it turned out, it was an excellent plan. I loaded up a small pack with our fly fishing gear and then hoisted the canoe onto my shoulders. The plan was to portage for about 1 km at a time, then go back and get my backpack. The trail was rough and muddy for the first 1. 5 km. It was easy to wipe out and that would not have ended well so we took our time. It took three "Leap Frogs" to get to our river ford. We were holding our breath hoping the river was not too high and luckily the first time we crossed was not too bad. The second time was extremely treacherous because of the warm weather.
Once across the river, the next 1.25 km was an easy go to the camping area and the lake.
The designated camping area had picnic tables, a bear pole and a pit toilet. The best part was the million dollar view and the fact that we had our boat to easily get around. Once we set up camp and stored our food up the bear pole, we got our rods ready to get out and explore the lake. We had looked at Google Earth to get the lay of the land and we also brought our old 1:50 000 inch map. The map, as always, was very helpful. We had a plan based on a rumour. Off we went.
We were in pursuit of lake trout even though our references suggested there were only cutthroat and brookies there. We did get to our fishing destination after a 45 minute canoe paddle. We finally hooked up and yes, it was a lake trout, and then another. Well, we were quite thrilled.
It was not conventional the way we caught them. We used full sink type 5 to type 7 lines with gigantic streamers. Our most successful colour was white. There was definitely smaller fry in the lake and smaller fish for the lakers to dine on, so a 5 inch streamer was a winner.
We got back to camp late in the day and enjoyed supper. The mountain views were spectacular. After supper, we fished a bit more. I hooked a large laker that I lost at my feet. Sigh.
We were tired. Great day. We crawled into the tent after having a fire in the designated area. That night we all got up at 4 am to look at the stars. It was incredible. Even Pepper crawled out to take a look.
Once the sun rose; we cooked breakfast, organized lunch, rehung our food up the bear pole and got the fishing gear ready. We pulled out early. There was not a breath of wind. We canoed across the mirror-like lake. We decided to go for a hike to see the glaciers we knew were up a valley. The views were stunning. We saw hanging glaciers, massive waterfalls cascading down and mountain peaks just below an icefield that was nothing short of breath taking. We lingered. We always have our bear spray handy. Thankfully we did not need to use it.
We found a fast flowing river of glacial water. We fished in that area for a long time. We caught several lakers there. Once the action slowed, we wanted to hike to another lake that the trailhead began halfway down the big lake. We paddled down the lake and eventually found the trail. The short hike was tough. Deadfall was all over the trail that is not heavily used. The trail was overgrown but we persevered. We finally got to our tarn. It was glacial feed. We did not spent much time there. It was tough getting around. I had no success fishing there although you knew there were some nice brookies and cutties lurking there. Pepper lead us back to the canoe and off we went to fly fish some more. We caught more lakers and even encountered some cutthroat.
We finally wound down our day trip by getting back to our tent late in the day. We made supper and finished our day by just taking in the amazing view.
Throughout the trip, regardless of the time of day or evening, or the location, the bugs were ruthless. When the heat waned and the horseflies decided to take a breather, the mosquitoes ramped up their assault. Needless to say, we came home with very little bug juice and quite a few souvenir welts!
Our last morning, we fished until close to noon. We finally packed up for the grunt back to the car. We knew the trip out would be tough. When we arrived at the river crossing, the river was way higher. Luckily, we knew how to manage the river. Karen and I hooked arms to get across. I got the gear across with no problems although we encountered several day hikers who turned around at the river crossing. One needs sturdy footwear and lots of experience to get across that river.
It was darn hot. The grunt up to the car included 300 feet of uphill over the next 1.5 km. The trail is mud to add to the challenge with several nasty, root hidden boggy areas. The last 500 m seemed to take forever. We were both covered in mud, scraped up and tired. A trip just would not be a good one without a few bumps, bruises and bites!
We loaded up and it was 31C. We headed for Saskatchewan Crossing, blasting air conditioning for an ice cream cone and some treats.
This trip took place in Banff National Park. All permits, fishing licences and park passes must be purchased before preceding to the destination. The Banff National Park is all catch and release except for Lake Minnewanka.