August 9, 2017
We got up at 6am and packed up, then walked up to the Emerald Lake Lodge for the breakfast buffet, which was utter chaos and seemed disorganized. Yes, there were two tour groups there, but surely they get that a lot and are prepared for it?
We arrived at the Lake O’Hara parking lot at 8:30 and managed to get packed by 9:30. We would be taking a shuttle bus to our campsite at Lake O’Hara and had to fit everything we needed into our backpacking packs. We hung out waiting for our shuttle, then checked in and boarded.
When we made our reservation, the information we were given said “Baggage is restricted to one large or two small bags per person (maximum weight 25 kg/55 lbs; maximum length 97 cm/38 inches).” Nobody but us obeyed that rule. Everyone had at least two large bags. We had packed our backpacking tent, but some people had brought car camping tents. Someone even brought a baby, much to my surprise. The family also had a toddler, and was traveling with another family who had two young kids.
When we got off the bus at the campground we were given a short orientation then told to go find a campsite and report back which site number we chose. It felt a bit like summer camp. We selected a site and right after that the family with the baby chose the site right next to us. Oh no! We tried to find a different site, but they were all taken. Not good.
We set up our camp then set off for a day hike to Lake Oesa, the trail for which starts from Lake O’Hara. The campground is not actually at Lake O’Hara (got to keep us camper riff-raff away from the posh lodge guests, you know) so we could either hike up via the road or Cataract Brook. We chose the brook, and although it was a pretty route we never took that trail again because it was in rough shape with lots of exposed roots.
The views at Lake O’Hara were just as beautiful as we thought they’d be:
We hiked along the lake then picked up the Lake Oesa Trail which climbed up above Lake O’Hara.
Mountains towered all around us:
The trail passed near Yukness Lake, but did not go close to it:
Continuing to climb:
After 2.5 miles and 1,300 feet elevation gain we reached beautiful Lake Oesa. The clouds were blowing across the sun, making photography challenging. But it was still spectacular. You can’t quite see it from the lake, but back in the gap on the left, between Mt. Huber and Mt. Lefroy, is Abbott Pass, which we had seen on the Plain of Six Glaciers hike a few days before.
We sat and enjoyed the lake for awhile, swatting at mosquitoes the whole time. This is the latest I’ve ever experienced mosquitoes! Finally we packed up and started heading back down. We hadn’t stopped at Lefroy Lake on the way up, so we did that on the way back:
The trailwork on this trail was impressive:
Looking back at the mountains before we go to the campsite:
Our total for today was five miles round-trip with 1,400′ elevation gain:
Time for dinner! We packed our yummy Mary Janes backpacking meals and the JetBoil, but some people had brought ingredients and were cooking from scratch. Impressive! I’ll do that when car camping, but it seemed like too much work here (and too much food to carry).
Dinnertime view of Wiwaxay Peaks:
After dinner we hiked up to the day shelter at the lake to hear local wildflower expert Mike Potter talk about wildflowers. Good talk!