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The Hike From Grizzly Lake To Divide Lake In The Tombstone Mountains

The Hike from Grizzly Lake to Divide Lake in the Tombstone Mountains

The hike from Grizzly Lake to Divide Lake in the Tombstone Mountains is gorgeous but a little steep on the descent, and a bit slippery in places under wet conditions.

On our second day of a three day backpacking trip, John and I had a plan to hike up and over Glissade Pass, pitch a tent at Divide Lake and then continue to Talus Lake, eat dinner and return to our tent. The total planned distance was about 16 kilometres, but only six of the kilometres would entail carrying a backpack – so very doable in our opinion. But the day didn’t work out as planned.

The hike over Glissade Pass in the Tombstone Mountains

Although it wasn’t raining when we left our muddy campsite by Grizzly Lake, cloud cover was low and temperatures were on the cool side. Nonetheless, we decided to march up Glissade Pass and make a decision at that time.

"Grizzly Lake looks moody in the morning"

Grizzly Lake looks moody in the morning

Heading up towards Divide Pass

Heading up towards Glissade Pass

The view - or lack thereof part way up Glissade Pass, Tombstone Mountains"

The view – or lack thereof part way up Glissade Pass

Once at the top of Glissade Pass – after climbing about 400 metres, we were met with what initially looked like a near vertical descent. Snow was starting to fall and I was wondering (John wasn’t) if it was the right move to continue forward. We decided – partly because we’d come so far – that we would continue forward.

The first 100 metres of the descent was the worst but then the going got easier. In about 40 minutes we were back on flat ground again. That’s when we ran into a few people heading out – and with the snow starting to fall heavily – I rather envied them.

"Heading down from Glissade Pass under very foggy conditions"

Heading down from Glissade Pass under very foggy conditions

The bottom of Glissade Pass enroute to Divide Lake

The bottom of Glissade Pass

Finding the trail to Divide Lake

But we continued – in what was quickly becoming a full on blizzard. You could see a faint outline of the trail but we did miss one intersection and had to look around and eventually retrace our steps. Although it was only about three kilometres to Divide Lake from the point where you swing sharply west, it felt a whole lot longer. Mountains were fuzzy and it was hard to see much. I put the camera away for most of this part of the hike since I couldn’t keep the lens free of snow.

Hiking through the snow

Hiking through the snow

When we finally arrived at Divide Lake, we were enthusiastically welcomed by two guides running a week-long trip with Sea to Sky Expeditions. They were in the process of attaching tarps to the cooking shelter to keep the wind out – a brilliant idea – as it really made a difference to the temperature. 

Under the tarp, the clients of the tour company – a super friendly group, squeezed together and immediately offered us boiling water to make hot drinks –  which was just what we needed to warm up. We hadn’t expected to meet a soul at this camp and so we were very happy to have some company.

Camping at Divide Lake in the Tombstone Mountains

After lunch, it was time to get the tent up. There are ten tent pads at Divide Lake – and all had about four inches of snow on them. By the time we had cleared the snow from the tent pad and actually got it up, we were both chilled to the bone.

It didn’t help that I had packed only light-weight gloves so my fingers were numb too. The rest of the afternoon was spent in a sleeping bag in a tent – and no further discussion ensued about a return hike to Talus Lake.

By the time late afternoon rolled around, the snow stopped and the clouds started to lift but it was still bloody cold. (That night was probably in the neighbourhood of -10°C) Nonetheless, we took the time to wander around the area – and looking through the fog, we could only guess at just how beautiful the area would be under sunny conditions.

Camping at Divide Lake

Camping at Divide Lake

Camping at Divide Lake

Divide Lake in the fog

Beautiful light on the mountains at Divide Lake

Looking down the valley at Divide Lake

Beautiful light on the mountains at Divide Lake

Beautiful light on the mountains at Divide Lake

Mount Monolith

Mount Monolith

Dinner was a brief affair as the singular goal of the trip at this point was to stay warm. Still, we had some good laughs with the other guests – and secretly I was very happy that I didn’t have another three nights out in a tent. I didn’t envy them a bit.

Other posts related to this trip you might enjoy:

 

 

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 9 Comments
  1. You are AMAZING! This is such a departure from what I am capable of doing. I love to live vicariously through you. The closest I have gotten to hiking is reading Wild and being married to an Eagle Scout!

    1. @Suzanne Thanks for the ego boost that your comment gave me. I really don’t feel like I do anything special. Your comment is hilarious too – reading Wild is a good first step and hopefully your Eagle Scout can get you out of any serious predicaments.

  2. Wow, this looked like quite a tricky hike in shall we say ‘reasonably inclement conditions’ 😉 The weather and the going down from Glissade Pass looked treacherous. I love the sound of Grizzly Lake, but I think the hike would have tested my courage and endurance. You are incredible!

  3. I’m sorry it was so cold and miserable – it made for beautiful pictures! It’s a lovely story to look at, even if it wasn’t as fun to live through.

    1. @Cindy It was only super cold first thing in the morning – and really it made the trip into more of an adventure. The snow on the mountains really added to the beauty of the area but didn’t expect such a giant storm in September.

  4. That is sooooo cool that those other campers were there! I’m a loner by nature but company can come at the most appropriate times, can’t it? It’s never been JUST the cold that bothers me…it’s the dang wind WITH the cold. I guess that is no brainer statement to any outdoorsman so I will take the Captain Obvious trophy for this post 🙂

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