The Panther Valley
SEPTEMBER 1995 - TRIP INTO THE PANTHER AND DORMER VALLEY'S
The Panther and Dormer Valley's are situated west of Sundre, Alberta in the Rocky Mountains. In order to get in to the area we had to ride up the valley
and forded the Panther River about 10 times. It took about several hours of riding, after leaving the truck, to get to the spot we wanted to camp. The first
several miles were in a winding narrow valley which finally opened up to a wide rolling grassy valley. The day was warm and sunny, a perfect day to ride
into the mountains. We camped close to the Panther River in a grassy, treed area that provided feed for the horses as well as shelter from the elements for
us. This point was well situated to ride in several directions up the mountains.
Base Camp
On the Trail in
The first day we went up a mountain to Ice Lake. It took about three hours of riding up the slopes before we came to an open area that was suitable for
glassing the ridges above us for sheep. We continued riding until we came to Ice Lake. Ice Lake is in a bowl at the base of the mountain peaks with no
surface running water. The water is supplied by both glaciers and springs. These mountains often have springs up on the high slopes since the composition is
limestone. There are actually cuthroat trout in this lake up to about 14 inches in length!. While we were there a man and his son were fishing.
                   Up on the Pass                                                                                                                Ice Lake
After leaving Ice Lake we rode along the base of the mountain cliffs and on
ridge tops to another small lake. This lake was inaccessible from where we
were except by scaling the cliffs. There was a deep canyon between us and the
next ridge to the north with no way down. The cliffs directly in front of me were
broken and jumbled rocks and slides that the mountain sheep use to bed in
since there is almost no way of getting to them. We then rode back to Ice Lake
and down the mountain to camp.
The next day we rode up the Dormer River Valley. We rode back up a narrow valley trying to find a way into the mountains that divided the Dormer Valley
from the North Burnt Timber. The trail we found wound around between the hills but never went back to the mountains. Instead it lead to a small lake that
was full of Brook Trout. Here we had a small rodeo with the horses. We got into a bit of muskeg, and my horse spooked, and bucked me off. He then
took off down the trail with the pack horse. Some people fishing caught the horses at the other end of the lake, saving me a long walk back to camp.
After this we rode up another mountain overlooking the Dormer River.
While sitting on a slope of the mountain a storm blew in so we decided to
head down to camp. The next day we rode out of the Valley back to the
truck.
This area of the Rockies is difficult to access
by hiking in altho it can be done. It would
take a day to get into the base camp area and
another day to get out. There are many
different areas that can be accessed as day
trips from the base camp area. If you have
access to horses it would be easier or an
outfitter could be hired to pack you into a
drop camp. Otherwise you could arrange for
the outfitter to be your guide for the whole
trip.