I just came back from a few weeks in the west, and a visit would not be complete without some time in the mountains. With my herniated disk last year I only able to visit the scenic Lake Louise, but this year I was blessed to do some hiking – and on three different occasions :)
Upper Kananaskis Lake
View of Lower Kananaskis Lake
In theory, this was our ‘test’ hike and we were going to walk the 3.5km to the Point Campground and back. Once we arrived at the Point Campground, my back didn’t appear to be worse for wear and with the gorgeous day it was, we opted to go all the way around.
Upper Kananaskis Lake towards Hidden Lake
About 2/3 through the hike, we crossed a couple that looked familiar to me and it turned out to be the parents of a girl that I had danced with for many years at MWDA. A pleasant surprise to catch up with them and talk about our trips to New Zealand, as they had also recently travelled there.
with my hiking partners, Lottie, B. and Mom
Roughly 16kms later we finished our hike and I was feeling pretty tuckered out :P My 45 min-1 hour walks in Quebec weren’t comparable haha.
This time in the company of my good friend, L., and my parents, we were initially thinking of climbing to Helen Lake on the Icefields Parkway. However, the permanant presence of a bear in the area meant that the area was closed for hiking and so we set our sights on Burstall Pass instead.
View from the pass towards the valley
Many other people set their sights on Burstall Pass too because the adjacent Chester Lake trail was also closed due to bears. We saw many many dogs and kids being carried in backpacks. No wonder really as the scenery was spectacular! Surprise to me that we could see Mt. Assiniboine from the pass.
up on the ridge with a good view of Mt. Assiniboine
My friend, L., kept saying that she wouldn’t come all the way to the pass in order to take it easy on her knees. She came up to the alpine meadow that precedes the final climb and was preparing to wait for us thereabouts. That day we kept playing leap-frog with a small group of ladies and when the 70+-year old mother passed L. making a comment to the effect that if she could make it, surely L. could, it gave L. the motivation necessary to make it all the way. As far as I know, she enjoyed the view and her knees didn’t make her pay for it too badly :p
I’d say this 17km hike with 750+metres in elevation gain was a good challenge for me, especially the part where we had to jump through a braided river system originating from a glacier that got deeper as the day got warmer. Or the horseflies that would bite you if you stayed still too long. :p
Located about 3.5 hours from Calgary just opposite the Colombia Icefields, this hike was rewarding quite quickly. For starters it wasn’t too steep – at least it didn’t feel so steep because you could admire the view as you climbed. And what a view :) There was a fair bit of haze in the air from the forest fires in BC but the morning light gave us some good photo opportunities.
To the red chairs?
Essentially at the start of the hike I noticed this sign for a red deck chair which awakened my curiousity. What were deck chairs doing next to signs that remind people not to use their bike on the trail? We actually walked a fair ways on the trail until we came across two red chairs facing the Icefields and so I had my picture taken with the scenery. Good thing too because the spot was very popular by the time we came back down the trail. An apparently there is a program with Parks Canada where there are many red chairs . (Since I’ll be going to NFLD next week, and to L’Anse aux Meadows, I’m hoping to get another picture haha :p )
First view of the icefields
We met some fun people along the way too: some young guys from the States on a road trip who took pictures /videos in scenic locations of themselves making slam-dunks on a mini basketball hoop, an energetic Boston Terrier just like our dog named Stewart, and a family with a rather rambunctious 6-year old boy who kept us company on the way down. Not to forget some wild ptarmigans, well camouflaged amongst the rocks!
Momma ptarmigan and her babies…look closely!
Upon reaching the pass, we walked over to the ridge and the edge to have a better view of the glaciers. Then we followed part of the ridge upwards until that portion ended in a steep cliff. From there we found a spot somewhat out of the wind to eat our lunch. Which proved a bit challenging because the sheep liked that spot too and any place well-protected was covered in droppings!
View from the red chairs :)
Up on the edge of the ridge
Afterwards we walked to the toe of the glacier on the Icefields side of the valley. A little bit adventurous, as tecnically speaking, we weren’t supposed to walk past the tape and signs warning us of the danger of falling into a crevasse…we just went to the glacier’s edge though and the impressive run-off.
On the glacier’s edge
I must thank my Mom for the hiking poles and offering to be my sherpa on each of these hikes, which enabled me to go a lot farther than if I had to carry several litres off water, etc. myself. Hopefully next time I get the opportunity to hike in the Rockies, I’ll no longer be in need of a sherpa :P
Thanks for reading! À la prochaine!