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Camping in the Canadian Rockies
An Account of Camp Life in the Wilder parts of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, together with a description of the Region about Banff, Lake Louise and Glacier, and a Sketch of the early Explorations by Walter Dwight Wilcox (1896).


THE Canadian Rocky Mountains offer exceptional attractions to those who enjoy natural scenery, sport, and camp life. Few regions of the world combining mountain, lake, and forest scenery possess the additional advantage of a delightful summer climate, such as obtains in the Canadian Rockies.

The extremely wild character of this part of the Rocky Mountains, and the very short time since it was opened up to travellers, are probably, in great part, the reasons for the lack of literature and the absence of any thoroughly illustrated publication concerning this region.

During a period of four years, the author has made camping excursions into many of the wilder parts of the mountains and effected a considerable number of ascents. An excellent camera has been an almost inseparable companion in every excursion, so that photographs of the typical scenery have been obtained from every possible point of view. Moreover, throughout all the processes of photographing, no expense of time or labor has been spared in order to obtain true and artistic representations of nature. Nor have these results been obtained without considerable sacrifice, for in many cases the proper light effects on lakes and forests required hours of delay, and frequently, on lofty mountain summits, high winds made it necessary to anchor the camera with stones ; while the cold and exposure of those high altitudes made the circumstances unfavorable for successful work.

A map is not included in the volume, as, owing to the wildness of the country, there are no detailed maps covering this region that are entirely satisfactory. 'The best map, and, in fact, the only one available, is published in Dr. Dawson’s Preliminary Report on this part of' the Rocky Mountains.

The author makes grateful acknowledgment of the assistance received from many friends in the preparation of this book. Special thanks are due to Prof. J. H. Gore, of Columbian University, and to the Hon. Chas. D. Walcott, Director of the United States Geological Survey, for the valuable aid and information given by them ; to M. Guillaume La Mothe for an interesting letter concerning the first exploration of the Fraser River ; and to Sir William Van Horne for the many courtesies extended.

W. D. W.
Washington, D.C., July, 1896.


Chapter I.
Banff—Its Location—The Village—Tourists—Hotels—Topography of the Region—Rundle and Cascade Mountains—The Devil's Lake—Sir George Simpson's Journey to this Region—Peechee the Indian Guide— An Indian Legend—The Missionary Rundle—Dr. Hector—The Climate of Banff—A Summer Snow-Storm—The Mountains in Winter.

Chapter II.
Lake Louise—First Impressions—An Abode of Perpetual Winter— The Chalet—Visitors—Stirring Tales of Adventure—Primeval Forests— Forest Fires—Mosquitoes and Bull-Dog Flies—Mortal Combats between Wasps and Bull-dogs—The Old Chalet—Morning on the Lake—Approach of a Storm—Sublimity of a Mountain Thunder-Storm—Cloud Effects— The Lake in October—A Magnificent Avalanche from Mount Lefroy— A Warning of Approaching Winter.

Chapter III.
Surroundings of the Lake—Position of Mountains and Valleys—The Spruce and Balsam Firs—The Lyall's Larch—Alpine Flowers—The Trail among the Cliffs—The Beehive, a Monument of the Past—Lake Agnes, a Lake of Solitude—Summit of the Beehive—Lake Louise in the Distant Future.

Chapter IV.
Organizing a Party for the Mountains—Our Plans for the Summer— William Twin and Tom Chiniquy—Nature, Habits, and Dress of the Stoney Indians—An Excursion on the Glacier—The Surface Debris and its Origin—Snow Line—Ascent of the Couloir—A Terrible Accident— Gating Down—An Exhausting Return for Aid—Hasty Organization of a Rescue Party—Cold and Miserable Wait on the Glacier—Unpleasant Surmises—“I Think You Die"—A Fortunate Termination.

Chapter V.
Castle Crags—Early Morning on the Mountain Side—View from the Summit—Ascent of the Aiguille—An Avalanche of Rocks—A Glorious Glissade—St. Piran—Its Alpine Flowers and Butterflies—Expedition to an Unexplored Valley—A Thirsty Walk through the Forest—Discovery of a Mountain Torrent—A Lake in the Forest—A Mountain Amphitheatre— The Saddle—Impressive View of Mount Temple—Summit of Great Mountain—An Ascent in Vain—A Sudden Storm in the High Mountains—Phenomenal Fall of Temperature—Grand Cloud Effects.

Chapter VI.
Paradise Valley—The Mitre Glacier—Air Castles—Climbing to the Col—Dark Ice Caverns—Mountain Sickness—Grandeur of the Rock-Precipices on Mount Lefroy—Summit of the Col at Last—A Glorious Vision of a New and Beautiful Valley—A Temple of Nature—Sudden Change of Weather—Temptation to Explore the New Valley—A Precipitate Descent—Sudden Transition from Arctic to Temperate Conditions— Delightful Surroundings—Weary Followers—Overtaken by Night—A Bivouac in the Forest—Fire in the Forest—Indian Sarcasm.

Chapter VII.
The Wild Character of Paradise Valley—Difficulties with Pack-Horses—A Remarkable Accident—Our Camp and Surroundings—Animal Friends—Midsummer Flowers—Desolation Valley—Ascent of Hazel Peak —An Alpine Lake in a Basin of Ice—First Attempt to Scale Mount Temple —Our Camp by a Small Lake—A Wild and Stormy Night—An Impassable Barrier—A Scene of Utter Desolation—All Nature Sleeps—Difficulties of Ascent—The Highest Point yet Reached in Canada—Paradise Valley in Winter—Farewell to Lake Louise.

Chapter VIII.
The Selkirks—Geographical Position of the Range—Good Cheer of the Glacier House—Charming Situation—Comparison between the Selkirks and Rockies—Early Mountain Ascents—Density of the Forest—Ascent of Eagle Peak—A Magnificent Panorama—A Descent in the Darkness— Account of a Terrible Experience on Eagle Peak—Trails through the Forest—Future Popularity of the Selkirks—The Forest Primeval— An Epitome of Human Life—Age of Trees—Forests Dependent on Humidity.

Chapter IX.
Mount Assiniboine—Preparations for Visiting it—Camp at Heelys Creek— Crossing the Simpson Pass—Shoot a Pack-Horse—A Delightful Camp—A Difficult Snow Pass—Burnt Timber—Nature Sounds—Discovery of a Beautiful Lake — Inspiring View of Mount Assiniboine— Our Camp at the Base of the Mountain—Summer Snow-Storms—Inaccessibility of Mount Assiniboine.

Chapter X.
Evidence of Game—Discovery of a Mountain Goat—A Long Hunt— A Critical Moment—A Terrible Fall—An Unpleasant Experience— Habitat of the Mountain Goat—A Change of Weather—A Magnificent Panorama—Set out to Explore the Mountain—Intense Heat of a Forest Fire—Struggling with Burnt Timber—A Mountain Bivouac—Hope and Despair—Success at Last—Short Rations— Topography of Mount Assiniboine— The Vermilion River—A Wonderful Canyon—Fording the Bow River.

Chapter XI.
The Waputchk Range—Height of the Mountains—Vast Snow Fields and Glaciers—Journey up the Bow—Home of a Prospector—Causes and Frequency of Forest Fires—A Visit to the Lower Bow Lake—Muskegs — A Mountain Flooded with Ice—Delightful Scenes at the Upper Bow Lake — Beauty of the Shores — Lake Trout — The Great Bow Glacier.

Chapter XII.
Sources of the Bow— The Little Fork Pass—Magnificence of the Scenery—Mount Murchison—Camp on the Divide—A High Mountain Ascent—Future of the Bo?*.' Lakes—Return down the Bow—Search for a Pass—Remarkable Agility of Pack-Horses—The “Bay ” and the “Pinto" —Mountain Solitudes—Mount Hector—Difficult Nature of Johnston Creek — A Bfolding Snow-Storm — Forty-Mile Creek—Mount Edith Pass.

Chapter XIII.
Origin and Rise of the Fur Trade—the Coureurs des Bois arid the Voyageurs—Perils of the Canoe Voyages—The Hudson Bay Company and the Northwest Company—Intense Rivalry—Downfall of the Northwest Company—Sir Alexander Mackenzie —His Character and Physical Endowments— Cook's Explorations—Mackenzie Starts to Penetrate the Rockies—The Peace River—A Marvellous Escape—The Pacific Reached by Land—Perils of the Sea and of the Wilderness.

Chapter XIV.
Captain Cook's Explorations—The American Fur Company—First Exploration of the Fraser River—Expedition of Ross Cox—Cannibalism —Simplicity of a Voyageur—Sir George Simpson's Journey—Discovery of Gold in 1858—The Palliser Expedition—Dr. Hector s Adventures— Milton and Cheadle—Growth of the Dominion—Railroad Surveys— Construction of the Railroad—Historical Periods—Future Popularity of the Canadian Rockies.

Chapter XV.
The Pleasures of the Natural Sciences—Interior of the Earth— Thickness of the Crust—Origin and Cause of Mountains—Their Age and Slow Growth—System in Mountain Arrangement—The Cordilleran System— The Canadian Rockies—Comparison with Other Mountain Regions— Climate—Cause of Chi7iook Winds—Effect of High Latitude on Sun and Moon—Principal Game Animals—Nature of the Forests—Mountain Lakes—Camp Experiences—Effect on the Character

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