THE HIGH ROAD // CAMP BRAND GOODS FW2016 COLLECTION
Tales from the road ft. Kim Noseworthy, Stephen Burchill and Otis the lovable Old English Sheepdog.
With Fall arriving here in Canada we are excited to share the new Camp Brand Goods Fall / Winter 2016 collection with you! What better way to celebrate than sending out our good friends, Kim and Stephen, and our too-cute-for-his-own-good shop pup Otis, out on the road for a quick field test and, of course, some good times!
Ah yes, the end of Summer. The shorter days lead to colder nights, and the number of campable weekends start waning quicker than we’d all like. A sad tale indeed.... but wait! Why be sad when you can be happy! Around these parts, Fall is short and sweet, so we do our best to enjoy every last drop. And to prove it, we “Campified” our pal’s VW Westfalia, aka Trusty Rusty, and headed out to take the long route down the Cowboy Trail, through the Highwood Pass to beautiful Kananaskis Country.
Living in close proximity to the Canadian Rockies, we consider ourselves pretty darn lucky to be able to jump in a car and make it to some really picturesque spots within only an hour or two from the city. So we did just that! Instead of pointing the van West and heading down Highway 1 towards Banff, we opted to change it up and take the Cowboy Trail through the Foothills to the South and onwards into to the Highwood Pass.
We picked our route and settled on Upper Kananaskis Lake as our final destination. On a good day travelling the fast road (TransCanada), Upper K is an easy two-hour drive from Calgary. Judging by the current condition of our van and the route we had picked – The Highwood Pass is the highest paved road in Canada – we knew that we would be adding a few hours to that timeline and there was a pretty good chance we wouldn’t get there at all.
Overshadowed by the grandiose views to the west of Calgary, the southern trek of the Cowboy Trail (HWY-22) through Longview and on towards the Highwood Pass (HWY-40) isn’t usually the first choice to get to the mountains. It is easy to dismiss the prairies east of the Rockies as an inferior option for a road trip. However, we were only on the road for 20 minutes before we slammed on the brakes and went jumping around in a Canola field. Once we had successfully covered our clothes in the bright yellow canola, we got back on track only to stop again just over the next hill to photo op a perfectly straight gravel backroad. We spent a couple of extra hours along the Cowboy Trail, taking breaks at what seemed like every dip in the road and, boy, were there a lot of dips!
Only minutes after leaving the town of Longview and turning onto Highway 40, we said goodbye to cell reception for the rest of the trip. We were already well behind our rough ETA before we even entered the mountains leading up to the pass. The plan was to seek out a secret cliff jumping area off the Highwood River we had visited a few years before. The majority of this stretch of river was totally decimated by a flood in 2013 and it was nearly impossible to locate the exact spot to turn off and cross the river to our creek. In hindsight, we should have set a map before we left but c’est la vie!
After a couple hours of U-turns and slowly driving along the river, we finally found our crossing. Unfortunately, a few steady weeks of rain in the area had turned the crystal clear waters of our creek into chocolate milk and we deemed it a bad idea to test our luck jumping into the raging muddy water. With our spirits slightly dampened and now well behind schedule we jumped back in the van and headed up the pass.
The Highwood Pass turned out to be no match for ol’ trusty rusty. We chugged on up and over the mountains without a single hiccup. We made a few more pit stops along the way to snap some photos and take some mental notes on hikes to hit up next summer. The mountains through the Highwood Pass are daunting to say the least. Huge grey rock faces and craggy spires reach so high up you feel like you are going to fall over tilting you head back to see the peaks.
On this day the clouds had settled in and a light drizzle accompanied us for the rest of our drive. The conditions made it easy to stay in the warm van and not be tempted to make even more stops than we already had. We still had an hours drive to the campsite so Kim retired to the back to hit the blankets with Otis. Near the end of the drive, we pulled over for a quick pee and one last gawk at the pass, and Otis didn’t even attempt to jump ship- all tuckered out before dinner time, the pup life is a hard life.
When we arrived at the campground, the clouds were nearly touching the tree tops, and the light rain was toying with the idea of becoming snow. We were sure we were going to have the place to ourselves. Turns out that rain, sleet, or snow, Albertans love their camping and we were very lucky to snap up the last site in the campground.
A word to the wise, don’t wait until late afternoon to try and snag a site lake-side in Kananaskis because it ain’t gonna happen. Due to high crowds and strict rules, we usually tend to avoid the Provincial and National Park campsites but they sure are in prime locations. As luck would have it, the rain stopped and the clouds lifted right as we parked the van. We welcomed the opportunity to stretch our legs and work off some of our road trip snacks, so we grabbed a couple libations and headed down to the lake for a little pre-dinner exploration.
After his little cruise n’ snooze, our furry friend Otis found his second wind and challenged Stephen to a good old-fashioned foot race. Sorry Warden, we know he’s supposed to stay on leash. Our stomachs had started grumbling, so returned to the van to set up camp and get started on dinner. The air was fresh, the rain clouds were off-duty, and the joes were sloppy (like Billy Madison sloppy, but better!). It was basically the perfect storm for cider-fueled Uno and poor references to bad 90’s movies ^, hey-o.
Instead of sleeping the next day away, we got our asses out of bed, fueled our bodies the best way we knew how - porridge (Side note: Goldilocks was the original Girl Guide) - and found ourselves with the good fortune of an alpine neighbour who happened to have a spare canoe along with him. He offered and we accepted, I mean, who wouldn’t? The lake welcomed us with it’s chilly, wet, and… chilly, open arms. Good / wet times had by all!
Fortunately for us, the sun decided to stick around for the rest of the afternoon while we lounged and explored a bit, but mostly lounged. We’re afraid those afternoon hammock nap sessions just cannot, and will not, be beat. Ever. Since we didn’t have any van troubles on the way up, we were feeling right groovy about things but it was still a long trip back. Despite being in a forest, we didn’t want to rely on knocking on wood alone to get us up and over the Pass before the sunset. Pushing that van up a mountain was the last thing we wanted to do on the way home.
So, we packed up and shipped out, back down the nausea-inducing winding roads of Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and onwards to Highway 40. With our fresh air quota filled and feeling a little groggy from our hammock time, the drive home was uneventful and quiet. We sat in silence, observing the giant mountains and changing colours of the landscape. The trees and plants had noticeably changed since our drive through the day before. It won’t be long before the leaves are gone, replaced by the snow already creeping its way down the mountain.
Driving back into the city we looked forward to the warmth and comfort of our nice beds but it’s the short last minute trips like this that remind us why we are so lucky to live where we do. Hopefully we will sneak in another couple nights in the mountains before the snow starts to fly. Until then, let the good times roll!
-Camp Brand Goods
Photography by: Mike Seehagel
Models: Kim Noseworthy & Stephen Burchill
Styled by: Emma Doll
©2016 Camp Brand Goods