In early September, despite the unseasonably chilly weather, we packed up the camper and headed southwest to the Highwood Region of Kananaskis Country for our last camping trip of the season. Good friends of ours joined us for the outing and neither family had stayed at Etherington Creek Campground before, so we were all looking forward to seeing someplace new. Due to a couple of unforeseen mishaps while trying to leave the city, we didn't roll in until well after sunset, which provided a new challenge for us; setting up the tent trailer in the dark. We manged to get things setup relatively quickly considering the darkness and had a roaring fire to help take a bit of the chill off. Our friends pulled in shortly after us and were also setup in no time.
|Welcome to Etherington Creek Provincial Recreation Area. Someone added a little something of their own to this sign!|
|This campground has spacious campsites and some, like the photo above, are close enough to share with friends|
|Our campsite for the weekend|
After a long week of work, sleep came quickly that first night. The next morning was quite chilly and I suspected that the weather played a role in how empty the campground was. We didn't exactly have the entire place to ourselves, but it sure felt that way. This PRA is also a staging area for snowmobilers in the winter time and for hunters in the autumn. I noticed two different pair of hunters hiking into the bush, shotguns in hand, searching for birds while I was out for my morning stroll with Cooper.
|I was greeted by a moody sky Saturday morning|
|The fall colours had already started making an appearance|
After a hearty breakfast and a leisurely morning hanging around the campsite we decided to get out and go for a short hike with the kids. We settled on Cat Creek Trail in Cat Creek Provincial Recreation Area, which was a short 15-minute drive north from the campground. Cat Creek Trail is an easy 2.6km return trail with a gorgeous little waterfall squeezing through a canyon at the end.
|Cat Creek Trailhead. You can tell the woodpeckers have been busy on this sign.|
|Chris and Coop enjoying a fantastic view|
|With views like this it's easy to see why this trail is so popular|
The weather changed for the better as we continued along the trail. The clouds cleared out making way for the warm sunshine. We all had to get rid of our warm outer layers as it was way too hot. The entire area is rife with history. The trail passes the long-abandoned site of the Ford Mine and crosses the Lineham Company Road, which predates Highway 40 (Kananaskis Trail) and used to run between Longview and Kananaskis Country. All that remains of the Ford Mine is the footing of the bridge that used to link Ford Camp with its coal mine.
|Cat Creek Falls|
|Cooper and I playing along Cat Creek|
|Hiking back to the parking lot|
We couldn't believe our luck with the weather, so we spent some time exploring the day-use area, which provided some great views of the Highwood River and the peaks of the Continental Divide.
|The Highwood River as viewed from the day-use area|
|A tree scarred from bear claw marks|
After a delicious meal and some more campground relaxation we all headed out for a post-dinner stroll. Despite all their exercise already, the kids were ready for even more!
|Etherington Creek as it flows through the campground|
|Evening stroll with the family|
|We were greeted to a stunning sunset Saturday evening. Unfortunately this didn't last very long, but we enjoyed it none the less.|
Sunday morning was again quite chilly, but that didn't stop Cooper, Rome, and I from getting out and having a long walk before breakfast. We walked throughout the campground and then explored Etherington Creek downstream from the PRA. It's a picturesque spot with small waterfalls and deep pools that would be extremely refreshing to swim in on a hot summer's day.
|Crystal clear, clean, and cold!|
|I guess this is the 'Beer Bridge' that was mentioned in the first photo of this post!|
|Poor guy couldn't stay awake for our entire walk|
|Back in the campsite, ready to play!|
|The kids found this impressively large spider on a piece of firewood|
|On the drive back home Sunday afternoon I just had to stop and get a closer look at this abandoned caboose that rests in a field along Highway 541|
|Unfortunately I haven't been able to uncover any details or information about this little piece of history|
We really had an awesome final weekend of camping and lucked out overall with the weather. We talked at length on this trip about all the camping adventures we hope to go on starting next spring. Stay tuned for all of our fall/winter escapes happening soon!