A breezy jaunt through lovely sub-alpine meadows, followed by a lung-busting ascent up a scree spine to Catamount Glacier. A side-trip to Thunderwater lake is possible, and highly recommended (if you can get across the creek!)
The trail begins up an old dirt road and you quickly (25mins) find yourself at General Store Cabin, which is in fine shape and has a lovely view from the deck. You'll then saunter through a grassy meadow, cross a couple of creeks (with sturdy logs as bridges) and enter a squishy meadow, rife with swampgrass and wildflowers (at least in August). The trail skirts the meadow on somewhat dryer ground, but you'll get your boots wet at some point, worry not! Spotted a massive grizzly in this meadow at dusk, so bear bangers and spray are pretty good ideas.
At the end of the meadow, aim for two large boulders than have tumbled off the mountainside, the trail (which has likely disappeared at this point) re-appears just beyond them. You will now be in some interesting terrain which was clearly a rockslide thousands of years ago, but has been weathered and forrested. Cool beans. Then you emerge onto a proper scree slope and generally pick your way across it at the most logical places.
You'll cross a few scree spines, but when you get to the highest one (you'll finally be able to see a gushing creek across from you) there is a faint boot-trail shooting straight up. Even if you lose the trail, it generally follows the western edge of the ridge-top so you can't help but find it again (basically go up). There is no respite from the grade as you climb about 400m from the valley floor. The trail sort of ends at a bit of a wall, but you can pick your way around it (I chose the east side). Once up on the plateau the wind coming off the glacier is intense, a toque and warm top is recommended. You can see the glacier immediately, and continue on toward it along a fairly flat and distinct route.
From Radium take Forster Frntg Rd at the flashing 4-way until it turns to dirt road, turn left at Horsethief FSR (which is a high-traffic logging road -be careful!). Shortly after the bridge, stay straight at the first junction. 9km in you'll arrive at a large 4-way, continue straight. After the 13km mark, stay right at the next jct. Continue straight after the Forster Watershed sign and then stay left at the next option. There are, of course, other spurs, but remain on what is clearly the main road at all options. After the 36km mark the road narrows somewhat, but is still in surprisingly good shape, except for a few steepish sections just shy of the trailhead (still ok if you have moderate clearance).
Up until the Forster Watershed, the road is wide and smooth and fast going, afterward it is still in great shape, but may require some clearance, has several wet spots, and has been chewed into strange shapes by ATVs.
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Posted By: wanderlust
- Sat Aug 27 02:06:02 UTC 2011
UpsideForgot to mention that you can do Thunderwater lake in the same trip - so long as you can figure out a way across the creek! Late season, most long-legged, fearless trekkers should be able to rock hop it. DownsideGrizzly country! And I couldn't get across the creek. Bummer, cuz I bet the lake is amazing. CommentThere are a lot of pull-out type places you can camp, doing this hike and Welsh lakes back to back on an overnight trip (as I did) is super simple. And you might as well!