Its a little known place along a tourist thorough fare, and the locals try to keep it to themselves. Sitting only a short 2km hike down off the Icefields Parkway – a meagre 19km past the southern entry. Hector lake is as good as it gets. I’ll stake this claim now – second best place I have ever camped and most likely will ever camp.
Why? The lake is the pristine blue green that only those of the Canadian rockies can be, and is set against the steep cliffs of Pulpit Peak and the Waputik range. The lake is a large for the area and curves around to its source – the Waputik icefields at the back end and becomes a part of the Bow river at the front.
Its Friday afternoon when we park the car and wander down to the camp site. A slightly muddy track that the water flows down the meanders slightly downhill to the Bow River where you have to fjord. It can be very dangerous here at times and thats why this place can only be easily accessed in late season when the melt waters are lower and you don’t get swept away in a torrent of icy water. Its still bitingly cold and we cross quick before putting our boots back on the other side. A few hundred metres more and we arrive at the camp site. Only ones there. Fuck yes!
We scout the area and set up camp at the middle high spot, just off the lake. Time for some snacks and wine and we explore the area. The real gem of this spot is found – the old canoes hidden a little ways up the shore. We knew about these – the insiders tip I guess. Its what changes this from just a lazy camping trip, to so back country canoeing. We find a better spot – perched out on the flat with 180′ views of the lake. I put the tent on my head and carefully manoeuvre the thing to the new site. Its well set up with some tools – a saw, a shovel and a bread toaster. Luxuries!
We watch the sun kiss the peaks goodnight and settle in to fight the cold around the campfire.
We wake at the crack of dawn. A bit chilly the night was and we put all we have on to face the morning. We get a fire going and smoke floats across the peaceful still waters. Stiring it delicately as it floats gently across. The sky lightens and the sun strikes the furthest peak across the lake. Sole illuminating it and leaving all else bathed in shadow. We are utterly content and at peace with the world as we wander the foreshore – spying Mt temple down range, before returning to take the canoe out and simply sit in the middle of the lake as the natural world around us wakes from its slumber to face the day.
A beauty breakfast of eggs and bread and we pack the canoe to head across the lake. We hear theres a trail somewhere out yonder. Somewhere to discover. We paddle across hard to get the blood moving and soon reach the far shore were we make our way along up toward the source of the lake. We spot a landing area…at least it looks like one and its a creek outlet. Seems like a good spot. There’s faint signs of life – a old fire spot, a few boot prints. We land and strip off. No one hear…why need clothes? For once its nice to be au natural and get some sun on our skin. Its a rare treat in a land where we are almost always rugged up.
Clothes back on and we follow the path that winds up the creek. 30 minutes later we come across a high alpine lake. Shallow but clear as glass. Its full of old trees. Knocked down in landslides and push out into the water. 200m across and you can still see the bottom. We eat a snack while sitting on a big log and staring up into the high cliffs and the water fall that cascades down.
We leave the paradise of Hector lake, later that day and unfortunately head home. So happy to have been here.