assiniboine provincial park

you are forgiven if you have never heard of Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park in British Columbia.  i had never heard of it either until trying to plan a backcountry trip in the Canadian Rockies.

up until this trip i would have said that Glacier NP  in MT was my favorite mountain hiking destination.

photos from our trip

Backpacking in Assiniboine Provincial Park – Jul 2013

initially Bob and I intended to hike in Banff but ended up at the provincial park next door (Assiniboine) that has no roads and that was, without a doubt, much better.  Bob and I were planning on hiking in about 20 miles but all the flooding in the area forced us to reroute our trip.  we ended up taking the helicopter in and out of the backcountry area.  (the 8 min helicopter ride was worth every penny)  we camped for 5 nights and had amazing 5-20 mile hikes during the day.
almost everywhere you go in the park you have amazing views of Mt Assiniboine (aka the Matterhorn of the Rockies).  it is a bit like the Tetons or Yosemite where the view never gets old and you just appreciate it more from every angle and weather condition.
despite being in the backcountry it wasnt all that “rough” on this trip.  the helicopter services a rather expensive (and nice) lodge at the heart of the backcountry area as well.  you can stay in more modest cabins as well if you are willing to cook your own food and partially “rough it”
they were particularly friendly to the campers.  we always made sure to be back at 400p for beer and cake.  you could also get a shower and a sauna in the evening.

here is the view from the newly built sauna.  it is not hard to sit here for an hour after a long day of hiking.

view from sauna at Mt Assiniboine lodge

the last night, a group of women who were there painting all week hosted an art show/sale and the lodge provided the wine.

i will comment on the food in 3 sections

  • Banff
  • reviews of backpacker food
  • Calgary

In Banff we only had one night, but we did stumble upon a few decent finds.  We had a nice and hearty dinner of fondue and Swiss food at a Swiss-Italian restaurant called Ticino.  Interestingly, one of the women working at the lodge in Assiniboine who is a Olympic hopeful cross-country skier is the daughter of the owners here.  Look for Hiedi Widmer in the 2014 Winter Olympics.  The Wild Flour Bakery and Cafe had good coffee as well as pastries and sandwiches.

In the mountains we relied solely on freeze dried meals.  here is a quick recap:

  • pad thai by Backpacker’s Pantry (BP) – decent, filling, a bit spicy
  • chana masala by BP – just ok, very spicy
  • katmandu curry by BP – my personal favorite, a nice mix of lentils and rice and not too spicy
  • noodles and chicken by Mountain House (MH) – this was also among my favorites and not spicy at all.  would be great for kids too.
  • chili mac by MH (i think?)- Bob says this one is the best but we did find any for this trip

Right after we exited the backcountry our first quest was to find decent food and drink in Canmore.  We found good beer and pizza with fresh ingredients at the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co.

In Calgary, we had one last night before heading back to the US.  We were universally told to get steak because Alberta is famous for its beef.  There seemed to be at least 3 or 4 top places to choose from and we settled on Char Cut Roast House in the downtown area.  Aside from the meaty appetizer board with house made sausages and a great beer and cocktail lineup, it was some of the best steak i have ever had.


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