Hector Lake

One of the best things about summer in the Rockies was how late the sun set. Having daylight until ten at night meant adventures could begin even after work which finished at 7.15.

Carmanah takes the lead

Hector Lake was a little gem of a spot which was only 2.4km from the main highway making it easily accessible. However it was a less travelled campsite because there is a (season depending) fairly difficult unbridged crossing of the Bow river to get there. Being early season in mid June, we knew the water would be high and approached with great caution.

Don’t be fooled, the Bow river was chilly, running high and swift as!

After work on Monday which was my Friday, and looking forward to three days off, Carmanah and I headed to Hector Lake via Lake Louise. A few slight mishaps to start the trip – the trailhead is pretty hidden, a black bear was right at the start of the trail and a pair of hiking boots forgotten meant a quick trip back to lake Louise and then we were on our way. The trail was fair muddy as snowmelt and recent rain meant soft going underfoot. Luckily our bear friend had left to go play elsewhere, so we had an uneventful 1.2km walk until we reached the river. As expected, she was high and she was fast. Being only two we crossed independently. With a thigh-high crossing out the way and a minor slip into the river by me, we were safely across the other side. River crossings are no joke and it is always important to assess each river and be okay to turn around if unsafe to cross.

C looks at the river, brr

Feeling pretty refreshed after the chilly crossing and with soggy boots we rapidly tramped the next kilometre to get to camp. Hector Lake backcountry campground sits next to Hector Lake amongst the forest and has an outhouse , picnic tables and cleared spaces to set up camp. It was tent up and then dinner time! Delish quick cook pasta all round – the poor woman’s backcountry cuisine and then it was time to get cosy in our puffy sleeping bags.

Most excellent tent, thanks MSR, and where is Carmanah’s head?

The next morning it was a really nice day and we decided to check out the lake and explore. There is a couple of old canoes up at the lake and we took one out for a paddle. Hector Lake is pretty good and a 10/10 for a paddle on a beautiful day with no one around. It was one of those moments where both C & I couldn’t keep the smile of our faces, the weather was perfect, we were out in the backcountry, amazing scenery, and a surprise paddle in a canoe with no one else around! What a treat.

Candid snap of C taking a candid snap
The water is actually that colour. Dream of a paddle with no-one around

We packed up camp a little later and headed back the same route we came, crossing the river carefully with successes all round and all too soon heard the sound of highway 93 traffic. And back to civilisation it was!

Didn’t want to leave!

This backcountry trip rates really highly on the many I took this summer as although short and sweet with very small mileage, we felt truly alone with no one else around. It was also one of those classic trips with a few mishaps – forgotten boots, river face plant, wet feet, bear at trailhead and did I mention we didn’t actually work out the location of the outhouse until we were on our way out the next morning? But these events only made it more fun.

Pretty full on river crossing to get us ready for a summer of backcountry! River crossings are not common in the Canadian Rockies like I am used to in NZ, a lot of the trails have much higher usage and maintenance and even very minor streams are usually bridged!

Thanks to Carmanah for an epic first backcountry – we had only known each other very briefly and started to plan many trips for the summer – good thing we were suitable hiking buds! Keep an eye out for many awesome photos also taken by C on upcoming blogs – she tramped a DSLR into many places this summer, what a trooper.

Hector Lake in its morning light
Thanks PC for leaving a canoe for us to play with!


  1. Great review Courtney. It’s always interesting to read about your experiences and now because we’ve been up and visited you in the Rockies, we can also get a real feel of the surroundings you mention! 🙂


  2. Neat writeup of this shorter but nevertheless punchy tramp which as you say covered all facets with a few mishaps and a wide variety of outdoor terrain with the river crossings -tramping -kayak-and even a “friend” spot at the start. Great fotos and superb natural colours especially the water.


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