Tonquin Valley – Kind of

Ok so I didn’t complete the Tonquin Valley. I really wanted to though!

Those of you who live in Alberta can relate. This summer was wet. Very rainy, muddy, and bug infested.

I decided to take my sisters on a backpacking trip this summer. Instead of doing a short, little one nighter, I thought we could tackle Tonquin Valley.


Wet start to our adventure.

We decided to start at the Cavell Trailhead and head to Swtichback Campground.

My sisters were not prepared for the wet. It rained the entire day. Their backpacks were from Costco. The pack cover, we discovered later, was not waterproof.

A beautiful, cloudy start to our trip.

However, I was still in awe of the trail and beauty around us! Although the clouds covered some of the mountains, it just created a moody atmosphere around us. The colors were stunning and the smell was refreshing.

So much rain that the trail was half river!

The rain continued our first day. It was supposed to taper off by mid day but it continued.

We met a lot of people who turned back because of the rain. At least 3 hiking groups. My sisters were close to that point. Not quite there, but they were thinking it.

Crossing a rocky outcrop.

We decided to keep going. We had lunch at Astoria under a pine tree. This was all we could find that was dry. It was cozy actually because we had dry pine needles to sit on for a moment.

We didn’t stay long though. We needed to get some switchbacks out of the way!

View in the valley.

Once we reached the top of the switchbacks (which were killer – they never seem to get easier) we were introduced to the most beautiful valley surrounded by mountains.

What a view it was!

Although it was still cloudy and raining, you can’t beat the view. I was amazed with every turn we made. Every viewpoint we came across. Every new landscape we encountered.

More valley views.

That night, we set up camp. This is when we realized that my sisters packs were not properly waterproofed. Most of their equipment was wet.

I made supper while they warmed up in the tent. Thank goodness my dad had bought us mosquito net hats to bring along. Believe me when I say, Parks Canada warns about bugs for a reason! I did not leave any part of my body exposed. None. It would have been devoured.

Another group came in and we all had supper together. They came from the other side of the trail and were telling us about it. Wet. Muddy. Big surprise. But it was lovely to talk to fellow hikers and share a dry tree space!

That is part of the reason we all love hiking. There is kindness in sharing a dry tree with fellow bug bitten, sogging wet, exhausted humans.

That night, the sisters and I slept in the tent. Besides the midnight “I have to pee, will you come with me?” it was a quiet evening.

The next day, I made breakfast while the sisters packed up their belongings.

We decided that we would head back.

Colors and mood though right?

The way back was long. Still beautiful.

I can’t wait to go back and complete it!

The sun started peaking out when we got back.

What experience didn’t you complete?