Kootenay Provincial Park, in the beautiful British Columbia, has countless trails, peaks, gorgeous lakes, rivers and camping grounds. In the northeast part of this park lies a log cabin named Fay Hut. I`ve heard some nice stories about the original Fay Hut, which was unfortunately lost in a big forest fire some ten years ago. They built another cabin shortly after the fire that was more durable and included solar panels. If you’re looking to let go of your worries, this is the place to visit
The trail to Fay Hut starts off Hwy 93 between Banff and Lake Louise, some 10 minutes driving south of Hwy 1. The parking is located next to the gorgeous Marble Canyon 1.5 kilometre tourist trail. There were no tourists the day I went because the snow was still 3-4 feet deep (even though it was the end of April). When I started out, the trail wasn’t visible, so I followed my map and tiny Tokumm Creek. The forest was ghostly quiet. No birds, no wildlife footprints, nothing. I could hear the silence. The trees looked like huge, black tooth picks. This part of the Kootenays was totally burned down.
I was trying to navigate as I followed the creek with just my map and a rocky wall on my right side. After some 12 kilometres I was meant to arrive at a junction with a trail leading through a tiny pass to the hut, but it was nowhere to be found. I slowly ascended, looking for anything that looked like a pass. This part was exposed to the sun, so more and more I found myself walking on rocks that were sticking up through the snow. Not so great for my snowshoes. After a couple of hours of searching left and right, the sun slowly began setting and I still hadn`t found the pass. It was time to find a place under the stars to spend the night.
The terrain I was on was very steep and had no flat spots at all. I had to use my ice pick to make a space for sleeping. There was one curved, burnt tree that seemed like it would be very good protection in the event of an avalanche. The snow was frozen and I had to dig it. I made an almost flat spot about two feet wide and four feet long. The sky was clear which predicted a cold night ahead. I wasn`t prepared for sleeping outside as I only had a sleeping bag rated up to -10C. Luckily in the winter time I always carry an emergency bivy sack. My final sleeping spot ended up very flat, but still steep. I was afraid of ending up in the creek during the night as the bivy was very smooth and there was nothing to stop me if I started sliding downhill. I tied a rope, one end tight around the burnt tree and the other around my chest, and settled in for sleep.
That was a very interesting night. I woke up countless times with my legs hanging down from my spot. I’d pull myself back up and sleep again until the next sliding. Although interrupted, I did have a very decent rest and I wasn`t cold at all because of the thermal reflection on my bivy. In the morning, however, my sleeping bag and I were wet because the thermal reflection did not breathe well. I put on my spare dry clothing, made a coffee, had breakfast and started back on the trail toward the parking lot.
It bothered me that I had never found the hut. Shortly after my visit, the new Fay Hut also burned down. An investigation reported that something went wrong with an electrical installation. Regardless, I had an unforgettable fantastic weekend and I learned something new, just like every time when things don`t go as planned.
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