Written by: Jolena Hove
I’m 30 and went on my first hike 3 years ago. A friend invited me to hike Allstones Creek in Nordegg, Alberta. Not knowing what to expect; I packed a lunch and some Nikes, picked up my friend from Edmonton and we drove for three hours listening to every genre of 90’s music on the way.
About 5 minutes into the hike our group was going down a steep embankment covered in loose rock. The kind of steep that you should descend one of two ways: slide on your butt and grab every piece of anchored foliage on the way down, or if you’re over 6’2 and very athletic- just run down it. I chose option two like the person before me, but unfortunately I’m not really either of those things and ended up tumbling head over feet most of the way down.
I was surprisingly unscathed, despite a few gashes and scrapes. After crisscrossing and rock hopping through a creek for another kilometer or so, we shortly found ourselves at a little waterfall. I was airing out my scrapes and enjoying a handful of trail mix when when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to find a lady with a concerned look on her face and a finger full of Polysporin.
“I’m sorry… but I’m a mom and can’t help myself- can you please put some of this on?”
Welcome to the Canadian Rockies.
Intrigued by the brilliant turquoise water of Abraham Lake, my teacher-friend and I strapped our paddle boards to the top of my Volvo station wagon and set off for Nordegg the next summer. I was secretly anticipating the initial view of the lake as we drove the David Thompson, glad I could witness the awe of an Abraham Lake virgin. Our excitement was soon diminished when we couldn’t seem to find a way onto the lake. Sure there were some accesses to the shore, but the wind was so strong on the lake, after a quick and scary paddle out, we decided we didn’t want to die that day.
We were eating lunch at the David Thompson Resort when a man pulled into the parking lot, paddle board on his roof racks. We ran out and asked him where we could get onto the lake safely. He looked at us hesitantly, then explained:
“No. You don’t paddle this lake. I work with search and rescue and people die here all the time.”
But we had come all this way and damned if we weren’t leaving with some pictures of us on the lake.
Somebody did die that that day. A wind gust took Krista’s paddle board off the roof of the Volvo. It was never to be paddled again.
Two years later I returned to Nordegg with another group of friends to do the same trek. I had discovered a love for hiking and the outdoors, had more than a few decent hikes and much more experience now. Or so I thought. Turns out a creek in the Rockies is much different in May than late summer. There was still a bed of snow and ice at the fall and the water was fast, high and freezing cold. It was difficult to maneuver across the rocky bed with numb feet and a strong current, but the towering rock faces and blazing spring sunshine suppressed any complaints our group might have considered.
If you ever find yourself in the Canadian Rockies and want a more primitive hiking experience, follow the David Thompson to Nordegg. Don’t worry about reservations, but remember your head lamp. Maybe a map too. And your dog.
Jolena lives in Rich Valley, Alberta- an extra small place you’ve never heard of. She is a teacher who loves to spend weekends and summers outdoors in places without cell service. She loves backpacking with her husband, friends, beef jerky and St.Bernard, Norma. Follow Jolena’s adventure’s on Instagram!