Alpine Club of Canada

SpringGazette2017

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with wildflowers, abundant birds, lakes and cascading waterfalls. We also explored a picturesque unnamed lake located southeast of Margaret Lake. One could easily wan‑ der for days in alpine basins amongst glaciers, alpine lakes and countless migrating birds, not to mention a daily caribou sighting, constantly surrounded by dramatic peaks. We completed a 50‑kilometre circle route over two passes connecting alpine basins where endless scrambling and ridge‑walking possibil‑ ities exist for a range of technical abilities. e area is predominately sedimentary rock, such as the Grizzly Bear Lake area, but also contains some granitic intrusive plutons, which form beautiful standing monolithic faces that tower above alpine lakes, creating great scenery and scram‑ bling opportunities. We even located some old mining claim posts dating back to 1973. Exploring routes and passes, we moved camps most days, but a hiking trip into either area could easily support a two‑week time frame with some base camps for multi‑day excursions up ridges and peaks. Or, one could be content exploring numerous alpine basins from a series of multi‑day base camps. Hiking in the Park is within the Mackenzie Mountains, which form the northern extension of the Rockies. ese impressive, rarely‑hiked rugged mountains run for 800 kilometres from the British Columbia boundary along the Yukon/NWT boundary. e Park is in the traditional grounds of the Shu'htaat'in (Mountain Dene), a region rich in cultural history. When combined sun? is common bond brought our group together and forged new friend‑ ships, which is often the outcome of ACC trips. Our common objective was simple: to explore beautiful new places to play, and share our passion for experiencing these environments. None of us knew each other before the start of our trip, which was planned to last two weeks. We met in Whitehorse, Yukon, from where we drove for seven hours to the float plane staging area on Finlayson Lake. We flew 150 kilometres into the Park, close to the east (NWT) side of the Yukon/NWT border. e flight alone qualified as an adventure, taking us into the heart of the rugged, rarely hiked Mackenzie Mountains and over the South Nahanni River watershed. We explored two areas for hiking potential in the Nááts'ihch'oh Park Reserve: the mountain regions of Broken Skull River, and the South Nahanni River (both rivers being famous paddling des‑ tinations in their own right). We spent our first six days hiking in the Grizzly Bear Lake area, scouting out possible passes and routes. e scenery alone at this turquoise lake is worth the visit, not to mention the hot springs about six kilometres away where you could soak for hours while contemplating the remoteness, and awareness of how so few people have ever visited this majes‑ tic place. Hiking to the headwaters of Black Wolf Creek, we scrambled up to a saddle to view a glacier and take in the colourful red, grey and black sedimentary mountain faces and ridges towering around us. e colours of these mountains rival those of the Rainbow and Spectrum Ranges I remember from hiking in Tweedsmuir and Mount Edziza Provincial Parks, which attract hikers just for their colour‑ ful ranges. Amidst this rocky mountain scenery were many subalpine basins lush by Wendy shanks L ast summer, Alpine Club of Canada Yukon Section members Eddie Fast, Jenny George and I seized a once‑in‑a‑lifetime opportunity to assist Parks Canada with scouting new hiking routes in one of Canada's newest national park reserves. With thanks to Parks' staff member Lyn Elliot, who organized this initiative, and to Amy Tanner, Parks' employee in Tulita, Northwest Territories, our group's desire to "just go see" all the ridges, peaks and passes of this stunning landscape was fulfilled. Seriously, who wouldn't jump at the opportunity to visit a remote place with unnamed map sheets, unnamed peaks and unlimited daylight under the midnight Members explore Nááts'ihch'oh Park Recycle this Gazette Leave it in your landscaper's truck Lyn Elliott, Jenny George, Wendy Shanks and Amy Tanner take a break amidst a profusion of fireweed with the Three Bears mountain cluster in the background. photo: eddie fast Jenny George, Lyn Elliott and Eddie Fast hike along an alpine plateau surrounded by NWT wilderness in the heart of the Sapper Range south of Unnamed Lake. photo: Wendy shanks

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