Point Backcountry Campground
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Time: 1 and half hours
Distance: 3.5 km (to Point Backcountry Campground)
Elevation Gain: 200 m
How To Get There: Park at the North Interlakes parking lot in Peter Provincial Park, 66kms south on the #40 Kananaskis Trail highway, 155kms west of Calgary. Trailhead starts by going counterclockwise around the lake.
It's a miracle I'm still alive to write this blog. Don't get me wrong- hiking to Point Backcountry Campground was an easy endeavor. This campground is only 3.5 km away from the trailhead with very little elevation gain in between. In fact, it's a great place for families to camp, or in my case, to break in some new camping equipment and start preparing for the bigger summer trips coming down the pipe. No, the trip itself isn't what could have killed me. It was my travelling partner, Morgan Bath, who was the culprit. She and I have been friends since childhood and things can get a little ridiculous when we're together. So it wasn't a surprise to either of us when five minutes into our hike, she was already trying not to drown while still standing on dry land. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Morgan and I made plans to meet up at the North Interlakes parking lot at around 11 am so we could begin hiking to Point Campground. This trip had two purposes: 1) We both wanted to test out our equipment and 2) we wanted to make sure we were ready for our planned Skoki Circuit trip in July. It took us about ten minutes of driving around like idiots trying to find each other and nearly missing one another before we finally reached the same spot at the same time. Once we were both parked, we added an additional 10 minutes to the trip by fumbling around and trying to finish last minute adjustments to our backpacks. Morgan had never gone backcountry camping before and had borrowed a pack from a friend so we struggled with adjusting the pack to her back. A few scrapes from Velcro later (don't ask) and we were finally ready to hit the trail. The weather for that day wasn't very promising and when I looked towards our destination across Upper Kananaskis Lake, I could see we were in for some miserable weather. But there is no better way to challenge new equipment than with adversity so we set off. The sun managed to peak through the clouds a few times as we made our way across the dam and around the north side of the Upper Lake. We were moving counterclockwise around the lake but you also have the option of reaching the campsite going clockwise. The only thing is that I wasn't sure if the bridge crossing Sarrail Falls was still out or not from the 2013 flood. While we walked, we were treated to the sight of beautiful wildflowers.
Now that we're all caught up, we can get back to the whole "Morgan drowns on dry land" fiasco. We had walked about 1 km when I suddenly heard her start to cough and splutter. I turned around and instantly realized that I had overfilled her new camelpak. Water was spouting everywhere, shooting directly into her nose and eyes. Now, one might ask, why didn't she just move the output away from her face? She claims it was because she didn't want to drop her borrowed hiking poles (apparently they're made of porcelain). Regardless, after I made countless attempts to close the valve, I finally managed to stop the overflow (and save her life in the process…you're welcome Morgan). We had a good laugh, finally got ourselves in order again and continued on our way.
We hiked for another 1.5 kms before turning off to the left at the fork in the road.
If you continue going straight, you'll eventually reach the Fork Backcountry Campground, which Matt and I stayed at in 2015. Once we made the turn off, we began descending down and through a meadow of boulders, courtesy of a past rockslide off of Mount Indefatigable.
Once you reach this point, it's a short walk back through the forest before you finally reach your destination. Morgan and I were a bit surprised to find the campsite was already quite full. I had half-expected it to be empty because it was still early in the season. We ended up wandering around until we finally settled on the first (and almost last) empty camping spot, which was lucky #1. Then we got to work setting up our tents. I had brought my MSR Hubba NX Tent while Morgan had opted to bring her newly acquired hammock tent (she likes to do things a little differently).
Once we (finally) figured everything out, I went about collecting the wood and she started building our fire. Point is a fairly large backcountry campground as there are over 20 sites available. This meant that there were two wood piles and two outhouses. We someone managed to be close to neither of these things. Regardless, and after several tries, Morgan finally managed to get a pretty big fire going.
It wasn't easy as it had snowed/rain the night before and had started snowing again the moment we reached the campground. Once we had some lunch and the snow digressed, I decided to do a little exploring of my own. So I left Morgan to watch the fire while I continued on another 1 km to the Lower Falls.
I had seen these falls before on my way to Hidden Lake but had never stopped to take many pictures. I quickly fixed that mistake this time around, making sure to take as many snapshots as I could.
When my camera had had enough, I finally returned to the campsite where Morgan and I spent the rest of the evening cooking dinner, talking about random topics and solving all of the world's problems.
When it was time to go to bed, we ventured down to the river to fill our camelpaks up with water and were treated to a beautiful mountain backdrop and the remnants of elk tracks.
The next morning we both woke up a little groggy as neither of us had managed to sleep very well in the cold. It also didn't help that the weather wasn't much better than it had been the day before. We both agreed that while Morgan needed to get a thicker liner for her sleeping bag I would have to buy myself a thicker sleeping pad to block myself better from heat loss. Lesson learned!
We packed up at around 9:30 am, ate a quick breakfast and then followed the trail back for about a kilometer before stopping at the shores of Upper Lake to refill our camelpaks.
Then it was time to head back to the parking lot. Just before we reached our destination, we were treated to the sight of a bunch of young deer.
The Point Campground is a well-maintained spot and great for those that want the feeling of camping in the backcountry but don't want to have to hike too far to get there. The woodpile was well-stocked and there were countless bear-safe lockers to put your food and cooking gear. My only complaint about the campground itself would be the fact that the water isn't very easy to access, especially if you are staying at the north side of the campground, since the river is all the way down a steep hill and off to the south end. Regardless, it was a great spot to camp at for a test-run and I had a lot of fun getting the chance to go into the backcountry with my childhood friend.
I'm just lucky to be alive is all.