Conrad Kain Hut {Bugaboo Provincial Park}

Conrad Kain Hut {Bugaboo Provincial Park}

Conrad Kain Hut

  • Distance – 9.0 km round trip to the hut, 11 km round trip to Applebee Dome
  • Elevation – 695 meters to the hut, 930 meters to Applebee Dome
  • Difficulty – Hard
  • TrailheadBugaboo Provincial Park / Conrad Hut Trailhead
  • Logistics – 50 km of driving on unmaintained roads and you have to wrap your car in chicken wire

The upside of a world pandemic and being trapped in your own country means that you take time to explore the nooks and crannies in your backyard that you normally wouldn’t explore.

In desperate need of a break, I took some time off in early August to tramp around a few mountains and be disconnected from work and reality. When I started researching places within driving distance, a fabulously named park popped onto my radar.

Bugaboo Provincial Park!

When your name is Donloree, a Bugaboo is something you’ve just got to experience first-hand.

Onto the list, it went and the researching about how to get there and what to do once I arrived at Bugaboo Provincial Park began. You should see much paper I go through with all my list-making and note-taking. It is embarrassing.

Along with hikes in Kootenay and Kokanee, Conrad Kain Hut and Cobalt Lake hikes in the Bugaboos were on the top of my list of adventures for the week of exploring in BC.

Here’s the thing that people don’t tell you about hiking in British Colombia …

The most amazing and gorgeous places are at the end of terribly maintained logging or mining roads and you need an adventure-mobile to get there. AWD most likely won’t be enough and if you rent a small SUV and end up with a Mazda CX3 – go with God. Plan on the drive taking WAY longer than you expect!

RENT A TRUCK.

I don’t know how much clearer I can be about the terrible roads. There were many things that were on my list which I did not get to do because no one was clear. Telling people that, “A 4WD is recommended” isn’t clear enough. A 4WD with high clearance isn’t recommended, it is required!

Once again, rent an adventure-mobile and hike happy!

The road to the Bugaboos is medium at best, it was touch and go a few times. If you like your car, perhaps think about driving another car the 50 kilometres of unmaintained roads to the trailhead.

Hiking Details

First things first, you need to find the park. I know this sounds obvious, but it isn’t exactly straightforward. For some reason, people have been stealing the signs for the park and so you are a bit on your own in the maze of unmaintained roads once you turn off Highway 95. Download the instructions from Google and print them out, both coming and going so that you don’t get lost. Reverse engineering the directions or relying on memory to get you back to the highway after a hard hike isn’t a good idea.

FYI – There is no reception about 5 km after you turn off Highway 95.

Google Map Directions

Once on the logging roads, the only sign we saw for Bugaboo Provincial Park was the entrance to the park, which is about 45 km into the bumpy road adventure. (Note: if you have ever driven to obscure hikes in Utah, you will think this drive is nothing. If you only drive on paved roads, you are going to think your car won’t make it.)

As you turn into the provincial park, amazing views of Bugaboo Glacier suddenly dominate the horizon and the roads suddenly deteriorate even more.

Drive to the end of the road and park in the parking lot – you have arrived!

 

drive into bugaboo provincial park
Beautiful destinations! And yes, passing traffic on this road is interesting!

 

Now it is time to wrap your car with chicken wire.

Yes, you heard correctly – wrap your car with chicken wire. Apparently, the porcupines like nothing more than to chew on brake lines, tires, and other things a car requires to function. I don’t know about you, but I think brakes are necessary for driving.

The park has a few corrals filled with rolls of wire and there are pieces of it scattered all over the place from other people using it. Grab a few sections, lots of rocks and sticks, and start wrapping! Use the rocks and sticks to make sure there are no entry points for the critters and then you are ready to start hiking.

 

chicken wire wrapped cars bugaboos
This is the first time I have had to forage for chicken wire, rocks, and boulders before starting a hike!

 

The Conrad Kain Hut trail starts at the west end of the parking lot.

The first two kilometres woo you into thinking that the hike is going to be easy. Some gentle hills in the trees and calm switchbacks through a rockfall pop you out to a little shoulder and views of the Bugaboo Glacier dominate.

Collect yourself here as the next 2.5 km is basically straight up.

 

conrad kane hike
Let the views begin!

 

I hiked this on a 30+ degree day. Luckily, I was just doing a day hike, unlike the many people I passed carrying up huge packs and massive ropes, prepared for days of rock climbing.

The trail gains about 550 meters in the remaining 2.0 kilometres. There is water on the trail, which is good as you are going to need it if you are climbing on a hot day. As you ascend, the trail gets steeper and steeper, you will have to scramble a few places and also use a ladder that has been bolted into the side of the rock as well as some chains in a few sections.

If exposure or heights bother you, don’t do this hike!

As you reach the top, you cross over the river that you have hiked beside for about a kilometre. Here the trail flattens out a bit and you reach the shoulder where Conrad Kain Hut sits.

 

Conrad kane hut
The hut! Apparently, it can house up to 35 people. When we were there the hut, main campground and campground at Applebee Dome were completely full of climbers spending 3+ days on the mountain.

 

Suddenly, without warning, you have arrived!

Take time to explore the hut, glacier, and campground – if you are feeling fit, head up to Applebee Dome, it is 1 km more and another 235 meters of climbing.

 

bugaboo glacier
The Bugaboo Glacier is huge! The spire coming out of the middle of the glacier is aptly named Snowpatch Spire.

 

Stream at conrad kane
Yes, there is a lot of water on this hike, which is good since I drank all my water halfway up the approach!

 

Conrad Kane Hut Hike
The main campground is ahead and below and Applebee Dome is behind and UP!

 

It is an amazing feeling to be so close to such a massive and beautiful glacier – make sure to linger.

The trek down is very technical. All that scrambling and steep uphill means hiking down is not a fast endeavour. Be prepared for your quads to scream as you descend. The last 2 km of gently rolling hills and flat is a nice way to shake your legs out before you sit in the car for a few hours as you travel back to civilization.

I loved this hike, even though I suffered from heatstroke from hiking in 34-degree weather. It is a very unique and different corner of the world and I highly recommend it. I give it 8 out of 10 stars, even though I kind of wanted to die.

If you like exploring off the beaten path places with stunning glaciers and don’t mind heights and being somewhat exposed while hiking, this hike is for you!



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