Banff – April Stories – Fay Hut

16-17 April – Fay Hut Trip

Steve had been trying to get me to go with him to Fay Hut. I knew nothing about the hut, the hike, where it was or anything, so I said sure, when are we leaving!?  *smile*
Since me and Steve and I didn’t work the same shifts we couldn’t get the same days of to do the trip so we decided to postpone it until Steve has finished working for Caribou Properties. So the trip became reality Monday and Tuesday this week.

Steve picked me up at 9.20am outside the ‘Ridge’ and from there we went to Veronica’s place (Steve’s Friend) and after picking up the essential nutrients at Safeway we headed west on Highway 1 and later south on Highway 93 (the one who goes past Invermere and Cranbrok) but we only drove about 20min on the highway to Marble Canyon where we parked and started our adventure.

We had borrowed snowshoes from work and the first 2hours of the hike we didn’t need them and it felt unnecessary heavy to carry them, but we soon realized that the snow was no longer crusty enough to support our light steps. We snowshoed up and it was kind of fun at start since I never tried that before. The only map we had to navigate from was a dodgy tourist map that seemed very detailed when I looked at it at home. But after a few hours of hiking I realized that the map was not accurate enough for us to safely navigate/orientate ourselves after it. Before we realized this, we had hiked about 4h too far into the canyon we had done about 500 vertical meters and 3-4km too many. So we turned around, descended the 500m vertical to the creek and followed it back, the clock started to tick away for us and we knew the sun was going down about 2000h and it was now 1845 and we had been hiking for more than 8h and we all were getting quite tired. We sat down to talk things through.

We decided to walk along the creek and if we do see a sign pointing us to the hut, we would then reevaluate if we would go up, or continue to hike back to the car (another 3-4hours hike). No long after we found the sign and the trail leading up, up and up, but Steve was assured it was the correct trail so he convinced us to go up even if we only had an hour or so worth of daylight left. We took the chance of finding the hut, even if it meant that if were on the wrong way we would had to spend the night in the backcountry without tent together with cougars, bears, wolfs and other “nice” predators that we already seen footprints from…

We hiked up the gentle slope that later turned into not so gentle and later so steep there was even a rope hanging for people to pull themselves up through the steep, icy slope that lead up between the rock faces in almost a couloirs’ shape. I was done as a human being, and the only thing that kept me going was the thought of the discomfort of actually having to use my survival skills in this backcountry and the will-power that my military training has given. Never give up.
Steve & Veronica were really tired to and Steve had some big troubles sticking to the steep hill with the snowshoes. I had been quite long ways behind the other two for the steep climb due to my tiredness, but suddenly I felt that I was going into a zone of not caring of anything else but to make it up this hill. I was motoring up this hill and not only came up beside the other two who where about 600m ahead and perhaps a 100vertical meters above me at the most, but passed them and made it to the rope the first. I climbed it fairly fast and waited and rested at the top for the other two. During my climbed I could very briefly smell the smell of burnt wood and I associated that with the cabin, this brought the adrenaline out in the veins and I just kept going even if most normal people would not do the last part so quickly.

Steve raced before me while I was waiting for Veronica to finish her climb so he reached the cabin a minute or so before us and the when we got in there two friendly people greeted us. It was almost dark out now, the clock was exactly 2100 when we reached the cabin, after 10hours of hiking and about 1000vertical meters.
Steve was cooking up the dinner, I made the table and soon we were eating a chicken and wild rice soup as an appetizer and spaghetti and meat sauce as main course. I had brought a few packs of hot-chocolate and three small bottles of Bailey’s which we had as a desert.

After drinking about half a liter of water I went to bed and slept fairly okay and woke up about 8am and was just laying in bed and snoozed until the others had gone up.
We had breakfast and I felt pretty good in my body after such an ordeal the day before. We knew we had about 3-4hours worth of hiking back out, but we were taking it fairly slow and we didn’t leave the cabin until 11am and the first stretch down to the rappelling lines was the warm up for something that I as a kid had seen on a TV show, where a guy was running down the mountain in snowshoes and it looked SO much fun and I have been wanting to try that for a very long time. I tried a bit above the rappelling ropes but it was under that very steep parts that I honed in the skills of actually run down the mountain with the snowshoes. It was just as much fun as I had seemed to be on that TV show so many years ago. This I have to do again!

It took us 45min to descend to the creek and about 4hours to reach the car park. The trail was a lot slushier than on our way in and we were lucky that we actually had our snowshoes otherwise it would had been such hard work coming down that deep snow.

Lessons learned during this trip:
NEVER bring a tourist map on a backcountry hike, USE TOPOGRAPHIC MAPS!
Bring sunscreen! Especially if you have just as fair skin as I do

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