Hiking in a Summer Wonderland

As soon as the helicopter flies down the valley beyond earshot, enchanting sounds embrace me like cherished companions.

I hear trickling water dancing down a creek meandering through a willow patch. A marmot whistles from its rocky home upslope from a wildflower meadow sparkling with crimson paintbrush and yellow arnica blooming full like sunshine on a stem. A soft breeze sifts gently through strands of cotton grass.

The sound I love most, though, is the quiet. The sounds I don’t hear—no cars, no motors, no machines. No Wi-Fi either.

Glen Crawford

Campbell Icefield Chalet sits at treeline—that’s 2,088 metres (6,850 feet)—surrounded by sprawling alpine meadows and the chiseled ridges and summits of the Rocky Mountains on the west side of the Continental Divide. And the only way to reach this place is via an eye-popping 12-minute helicopter ride from Donald, just north of the small mountain town of Golden, BC. This magic formula means once you’re up there, the only neighbours you’ll see or hear have wings, fur or four legs.

Glen Crawford

For more than 20 years, Campbell Icefield has been a favourite destination for backcountry skiers who enthusiastically skin up and ski down slope after slope of untracked powder. Now the remote locale is quickly becoming equally as popular in the summer months with hikers who want to escape the crowds and immerse themselves in a private wilderness playground for three- or four-day stays, all while living in rustic, Rocky Mountain-style comfort.

The three-storey lodge sleeps up to 20 guests in 10 bright bedrooms, with four of those rooms equipped with wider-than-queen-size beds to accommodate couples. Bedding can also be provided. There’s cold running water, an indoor toilet and electric lights powered by a micro-hydro system. There’s a clothes-drying room in case you’re caught out in a summer shower.

Glen Crawford

The bright and spacious dining room and adjacent sitting area are centered around a wood burning stove that keeps the lodge toasty on cool mountain nights. And a separate building hosts a deluxe wood-burning sauna and delightful hot shower facilities. Set in a southwest-facing bowl, the lodge features south-facing decks to catch those summer evening rays and rainbow-coloured sunsets. 

Of course, hiking in the fresh mountain air revs up everyone’s appetites, so to keep your bellies happy and full after exploring the trails, there’s a full kitchen complete with a spacious food storage room. Guests can choose the more affordable option of cooking their own meals to share with their group, or if your getaway plans include a break from cooking, the lodge will arrange for a professional backcountry chef to create scrumptious meals. Certified wilderness hiking guides to lead your daytime adventures can be arranged, too.

Glen Crawford

When the rising sun glazes the cliffs of Thunder Mountain in shimmering gold, it’s time to go exploring. The well-developed trail system serves all abilities, from easy walks through lush meadows brimming with wildflowers and alpine tarns reflecting snow-capped peaks, to moderate trails leading up gradually steepening terrain through rockier ground to alpine ridges with big views.

Those whose legs and lungs want to continue can follow ridgelines that stretch for kilometres with jagged summits and shimmering glaciers in all directions. You can even hike right to the ancient glacier ice of Campbell Icefield or stand on a giant chess board made of rock at Lo Col. Watch glacial melt tumble over shelves of bronze and green stone, forming waterfalls that pour like silk over benches of water-worn rock.

Glen Crawford

Wait, what’s that I hear?

It’s happy hour and time for appetizers back at the lodge!

For more info or to book your stay, visit skigolden.com

This article was sponsored by Campbell Icefield Chalet

Welcome to the Campbell Icefield Chalet.

Whether you’re seeking a weeklong winter ski-touring adventure or an idyllic summer alpine retreat, the Campbell Icefield Chalet can satisfy your desires.

For over 20 years, guests have been experiencing exceptional winter ski touring with many groups returning year after year. Now the opportunity exists for an equally fantastic SUMMER adventure. Once the deep winter snow melts, a pristine a carpet of wildflowers and alpine meadows is exposed. The network of hiking trails makes for easy access to the meadows and the high mountain ridges.

The Chalet offers the same comfortable accommodation that welcomes skiers in the winter. The individual bedrooms, indoor plumbing and a deluxe sauna with showers ensure that you won’t be roughing it while enjoying a Rocky Mountain getaway.