Seven Veils Falls

August 12, 2017

When we woke up this morning we discovered the winds had shifted overnight and the wildfire smoke had blown in. Oh man, it looked awful. We were SO grateful that it hadn’t been like that the previous three days:

Smoky Lake O'Hara

Smoky Lake O'Hara

Smoky Lake O'Hara

We packed up camp and had breakfast. Before we caught our shuttle bus back to the car we walked around the lake to visit Seven Veils Falls:

Seven Veils Falls

They recently redid the little side trail and constructed two nice stone viewing decks:

Viewing platform

We hiked back to the campground and caught the shuttle bus back to our car, then drove to Lake Louise for a bite to eat. The hustle and bustle of thousands of cars and tourists was jolting after three days at peaceful Lake O’Hara. We drove towards home via Kootenay National Park which was horrendously smoky:

Smoky drive

We got as far as Spokane that night. We saw sunset from the freeway and the sun was fiery red from all the wildfire smoke.

When all was said and done, we had a great trip. The smoke was definitely a bummer, and it was incredibly disappointing to miss out on some of the great hikes in the Kaslo area. We’ll have to go back there someday when British Columbia is not on fire. The most important think was that we had good clear weather while at Lake O’Hara. Reservations are hard to get and who knows when we’ll get back there again. That was the part of our trip where it was most important for smoke-free skies and we got it. Thank you, weather gods!

<< Day 9: Lake McArthur

Lake McArthur

August 11, 2017

The toddler at the neighboring campsite only woke up screaming once last night, so thank goodness for small mercies. That family packed up and left today.

Our plan was to hike up to Lake McArthur and then, if we felt up to it, circle back to the lake via the All Soul’s route over to the Opabin Plateau and then down the West Opabin Trail. We set off up the Alpine Meadow Trail and soon reached the meadow. The Elizabeth Parker Hut is located here. Visitors can stay there, but it’s so immensely popular that reservations are done by lottery. I can see why one would want to stay in the hut. Mountain views abound in all directions:

Lake McArthur Hike

Lake McArthur Hike

Lake McArthur Hike

Lake McArthur Hike

Lake McArthur Hike

Lake McArthur Hike

After the meadow we passed Schaffer Lake:

Lake McArthur Hike

The outlet was all dried up:

Lake McArthur Hike

Around the other side of the lake a patch of snow still lingered:

Lake McArthur Hike

There were some wildflowers along the trail:

Lake McArthur Hike

The trail climbed up above Schaffer Lake and at one point we could look down on it:

Lake McArthur Hike

Mt. Owen and Odaray Mountain:

Lake McArthur Hike

What a view

Almost to the lake, hiking through pasque flowers:

Lake McArthur Hike

Lake McArthur Hike

Lake McArthur Hike

I see the lake!

Lake McArthur Hike

We found a nice spot on the shore to hang out, enjoy the view, and dip our feet on this very warm day. We heard loons a few times while we were sitting there, which was SUPER cool because we don’t have loons in Oregon.

Lake McArthur Hike

Lake McArthur Hike

Lake McArthur Hike

We were quite entertaining by a determined ground squirrel who was determined to get some free food, but he struck out with us:

Lake McArthur bandit

Greg’s nice zoom shots of our visitor:

Ground squirrel

Ground squirrel

Ground squirrel

We had decided not to do the All Soul’s route and just make this an out-and-back hike to McArthur. So after a few hours hanging out by the lake we put our boots back on and headed back down:

Lake McArthur Hike

Lake McArthur Hike

Lake McArthur Hike

Lake McArthur Hike

Greg stayed behind at a rockslide on the trail to watch for pikas and I hiked back to Lake O’Hara

Wildflowers

Schaffer Lake again, in afternoon light:

Lake McArthur Hike

I got a popsicle from the day shelter and sat on a bench by the lake admiring the scenery and reading:

Lake O'Hara

We ate our last dinner and then broke open the chocolate for dessert. After sitting in the hot bear-proof locker for several days it was a tad soft and we had to eat it with a spoot. Still tasted GREAT!

Melted dessert

After dinner we walked back up to the lake to hear a talk on grizzly bears at the shelter. I got an evening shot of the lake beforehand:

Lake O'Hara

The grizzly bear talk was SUPER fascinating. It was done by Steve Michel, a Resource Management Officer for Banff National Park. It was interesting to hear about the evolution of human attitudes towards bears. It used to be pretty much “kill all bears.” Now bears are threatened in Alberta and they do everything they can to protect bears. A lot of effort goes into educating the clueless humans so that bears don’t become habituated to human garbage, for example. He did a TEDx talk back in 2013 where he talks about some of this:

Day 8: Alpine Circuit | Day 10: Seven Veils Falls

Alpine Circuit

August 10, 2017

Rough night. To our surprise the baby at the campsite next door was not who kept us up. It was the toddler. He woke up screaming and crying at 2am. And at 3am. And several times after that. Sleep was elusive for everyone around.

Greg wanted to sleep in, so we didn’t hit the trail until late morning. Today our plan was to hike the Alpine Circuit clockwise (the Alpine Circuit utilizes sections of Lake O’Hara’s trail network to create a spectacular loop hike). We set off toward Lake O’Hara from the campground, hiking the road this time to avoid the root-plagued trail along Cataract Creek. It was a beautiful morning at the lake:

Alpine Circuit

Alpine Circuit

The Wiwaxy Gap Trail climbs steeply from the lakeshore, switchbacking up an avalanche chute. This means no shade, but it does mean good views. And we had beautiful smoke-free skies. Yay!

Alpine Circuit

After launching up the avalanche chute the trail traverses the slope for a bit:

Alpine Circuit

Alpine Circuit

Alpine Circuit

The views were spectacular:

Alpine Circuit

We could see Lake Oesa where we were the day before (and we’d actually be passing by it again today). Lake Oesa left of center with Lake O’Hara on the right:

Alpine Circuit Hike

At some point along this stretch Greg got a good shot of the lake trio with his zoom lens. The trail we did yesterday can be seen snaking up between the lakes. The Yukness Ledges route we’ll be taking soon can be seen on the rockslide beyond the lakes:

Lake Oesa

Then the trail climbs up, up, up an open slope:

Alpine Circuit Hike

Alpine Circuit Hike

Alpine Circuit Hike

And we made it to Wiwaxy Gap at 8,300′, after gaining 1700 feet of elevation in just one mile. Whew!

Alpine Circuit Hike

From the gap we had a nice view looking north. The valley down there is where the Lake O’Hara access road is:

Alpine Circuit Hike

An iPhone panorama from the gap. Lake Oesa on the left; Lake O’Hara on the right. The trail on the left is where we’re headed next:

Alpine Circuit Hike

After taking a breather, we continued on. This stretch of trail traverses the lower slope of Mt. Huber and is known as the Huber Ledges. Looking back towards Wiwaxy Gap:

Alpine Circuit Hike

You can see why they use the word “ledges” in this route’s name:

Alpine Circuit Hike

Greg got a shot of me hiking towards the lake on the ledges:

Tiny hiker

Descending to Lake Oesa:

Alpine Circuit Hike

Alpine Circuit Hike

We didn’t linger long since we had been here the day before. We still had a ways to go yet and it was almost 3:00. But we did pause to take in the view:

Alpine Circuit Hike

We filtered water at the lake’s outflow, where the creek pooled a bit. Very pretty:

Lake Oesa

On the scree slope you can see the route we just came down:

Alpine Circuit Hike

Now we were on the Yukness Ledges Trail. Looking down on Lefroy Lake, which we saw yesterday:

Lefroy Lake

Alpine Circuit Hike

Looking back towards Lefroy Lake and Lake Oesa:

Alpine Circuit Hike

Across the way we could see the superb trail construction on the Lake Oesa Trail we had done the day before:

Looking across to where we were earlier. The lowest part is Wiwaxy Gap, and you can just make out the Huber Ledges Trail heading right from there:

Alpine Circuit Hike

Looking down on Lake O’Hara and Yukness Lake. The trail you see is the one we did yesterday to Oesa:

Alpine Circuit Hike

Yukness Ledges:

Yukness Ledges

Alpine Circuit Hike

Alpine Circuit Hike

Descending to the Opabin Plateau:

Alpine Circuit Hike

Alpine Circuit Hike

The trail deposited us on the East Opabin Trail at Hungabee Lake. I took the quick side trip up to Opabin Lake while Greg stayed behind to photograph the flowers.

Opabin Lake

Heading back down to Hungabee Lake:

Alpine Circuit Hike

Wow, there were a lot of pasque flower here!

Alpine Circuit Hike

Originally we had thought about finishing the circuit by taking the All Soul’s Route over to Shaffer Lake, then taking the Alpine Meadow trail back Lake O’Hara. But we had gotten way too late a start and we were tired, so we decided not to do that part and just go back via one of the Opabin trails. Greg wanted ice cream back at the lake so he booked it down the East Opabin Trail to get to the day shelter before it closed. I wanted to see more of the Opabin Plateau so I took the slightly longer way back via the Opabin Highline Trail.

Another shot of Hungabee Lake:

Alpine Circuit Hike

Moor Lakes:

Moore Lakes

Alpine Circuit Hike

The light is TERRIBLE in this shot, but the scene is still pretty. This is looking down on Cascade Lakes:

Alpine Circuit Hike

Wildflowers near Cascade Lakes:

Alpine Circuit Hike

Then I hooked back up with the East Opabin Trail and descended very steeply to Lake O’Hara. Following the Lakeshore Trail back to the shelter where I planned to meet Greg, I was treated to a magnificent view of the mountains towering above Lake O’Hara.

Lake O'Hara

Lake O'Hara

Hard hike, but definitely worth it. Eight miles with 2,800′ elevation gain:

AlpineCircuit

Time for dinner! Chedder herb pasta courtesy of Mary Janes Farm.

Dinnertime view

Dinnertime view

<< Day 7: Lake Oesa | Day 9: Lake McArthur >>

Lake Oesa

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.

Lake O'Hara shuttle

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.

Lake O'Hara Campground

Lake O'Hara Campground

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.

Cataract Brook

The views at Lake O’Hara were just as beautiful as we thought they’d be:

Lake O'Hara

Lake O'Hara

We hiked along the lake then picked up the Lake Oesa Trail which climbed up above Lake O’Hara.

Lake Oesa Hike

Lake Oesa Hike

Mountains towered all around us:

Lake Oesa Hike

The trail passed near Yukness Lake, but did not go close to it:

Lake Oesa Hike

Victoria Falls:

Lake Oesa Hike

Lake Oesa Hike

Victoria Lake:

Victoria Lake

Continuing to climb:

Lake Oesa Hike

Lake Oesa Hike

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.

Lake Oesa Hike

Lake Oesa Hike

Lake Oesa

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:

Lefroy Lake

Lefroy Lake

The trailwork on this trail was impressive:

Lake Oesa Hike

Looking back at the mountains before we go to the campsite:

Lake Oesa Hike

Lake O'Hara

Our total for today was five miles round-trip with 1,400′ elevation gain:

LakeOesa

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).

Lake Oesa Hike

Dinnertime view of Wiwaxay Peaks:

Lake O'Hara Campground

After dinner we hiked up to the day shelter at the lake to hear local wildflower expert Mike Potter talk about wildflowers. Good talk!

<< Day 6: Emerald Lake | Day 8: Alpine Circuit >>

Emerald Lake

August 8, 2017

Today we packed up and left Mosquito Creek Campground and headed into Yoho National Park. To our amazement we saw the mama bear and her cub yet again along Highway 93. The third time! Greg got a good shot of the mom with his zoom lens:

Black bear

We had wanted to do the famous Iceline Trail today, but it was just too smoky. We didn’t want a repeat of yesterday, wasting effort to get up high with views that we couldn’t see. So we drove up Yoho Valley Road to check out Takakkaw Falls. I saw this waterfall 12 years ago with my sister, and goodness knows we have plenty of our own waterfalls back home, but this one still impresses.

Takakkaw Falls

Takakkaw Falls

Takakkaw Falls

From the base of the falls we could see Wapta Mountain:

Downstream of Takakkaw

We drove over to Emerald Lake and when we arrived at 11:20 the place was already a zoo. There were over 100 cars there and we had to park pretty far down the road. Our plan was to hike the perimeter of the lake, but first we had lunch at Cilantro on the Lake, a cafe at Emerald Lake Lodge:

Emerald Lake

Lunch at the lake

Then we headed off to do our circuit, passing the main lodge building where we would check in later for our room:

Emerald Lake Lodge

It’s too bad it was so smoky, because the views from the lakeside trail are great all the way around:

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake

At the far end of the lake a lovely stream comes from the mountains and flows into the lake (Wapta Mountain at center):

Emerald Lake inlet

Emerald Lake inlet

Mt. Field and Mt. Burgess:

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake

Back at the lodge we walked down the road to our car, moved it into hotel guest parking, then caught the shuttle to the lodge where we checked into our room. Nice to have a hot shower, especially since today was pretty muggy. Our room was nice (as it should be for these prices!):

Our cabin

Our room

Our room

We had a little deck looking in the direction of the lake, which we couldn’t see very well through the trees, but that’s okay. It was still pleasant to sit out there and read.

Our deck

Greg had called the lodge before our trip to see if they had laundry facilities, and they said yes, but they must have misunderstood his question because they don’t have any. So we washed our hiking clothes in the tub as best we could so we had some semi-clean things to wear to Lake O’Hara. Then we ate a very expensive but very delicious meal in the lounge of the lodge.

After dinner we partook of the outdoor hot tub at the lodge, which felt GREAT. We met a lady from Kansas City, Missouri who was with a Backroads tour group. Every day the van drops them at their trailhead and in the afternoon picks them up to take them to their hotel. Nice setup!

<< Day 5: Helen Lake | Day 7: Lake Oesa >>

Smoky Vacation

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Months ago when we scheduled a trip to British Columbia for early August, we were coming out of a horrible wet cold winter with a lot of snow. Little did we realize that summer would be bone dry and that by early August BC would be burning up with over 100 wildfires. The day we were to leave we woke up in Portland to find hazy skies and the weather forecasters said it was smoke from the BC wildfires. Aw crap. The only good news is that extreme triple digit heat was in Portland’s immediate future and we were not going to be around for it, thank goodness.

We could not see Mt. Hood as we drove east on Interstate 84. The smoke was thick in the Gorge.

Hazy

We drove 560 miles across Oregon, Washington, and BC and had smoke the entire way. It was a relief to reach Kaslo, BC and our smoke-free hotel room at the Kaslo Hotel and Pub (nice hotel, highly recommended):

Our room in Kaslo

The situation had not improved in the morning. The smoke was bad:

Smoky morning

Kaslo Hotel and Pub

We could not even see across Kootenay Lake:

Smoke

We decided we could not camp and hike in these conditions. We already knew we could not do the hikes we came here to do (Monica Meadows and Jumbo Pass) which became inaccessible due to wildfires a few days earlier. We had come up with other hikes to do, but these were terrible hiking conditions. We ditched the first part of our trip itinerary and decided to head up to Yoho National Park earlier than planned. We arrived at Galena Bay a tad too late and we JUST missed the 1:30 ferry. We had to wait an hour for the next one:

Just missed it

We got out of the car and stretched our legs while we waited. I’m sure Upper Arrow Lake is scenic and that we would have enjoyed good views on a clear day. Today was not that day:

Upper Arrow Lake

Upper Arrow Lake

We could clearly see a wildfire above Galena Bay as we waited for the ferry. On August 4, the next day, this fire would flare up; an evacuation alert would be issued the day after that.

Wildfire

Once the ferry pulled away we could see that fire more clearly:

Wildfire

Smoky view from the ferry:

Upper Arrow Lake

We kept driving, always through smoke. When we got to Glacier National Park the smoke got worse since there are several active fires in the park. We could actually see some of the fires on the slopes above us. The haze obscured the mountains:

So much smoke

Yoho National Park only has two campgrounds – Monarch and Kicking Horse. They were both full. Ack, now what! We eventually ended up at the Herbert Lake picnic area in Banff National Park. No camping is allowed there, but it was getting late and we were out of options. Sorry Parks Canada! We were desperate!

Wilcox Pass Hike

We talked about what kind of backup plan we might be able to come up with, but there were fires everywhere. It seemed there was no escaping the smoke. I went to bed feeling extremely discouraged and I had no idea what we should do. I had spent a considerable amount of time planning this trip. The thought of throwing out the plan and starting over was exhausting and discouraging.

Day 2: Wilcox Pass >>

Canadian Rockies Day 11: Columbia Headwaters

August 6, 2016

The last day of our trip was gray and rainy so we did not hike. Instead we drove down to the little community of Canal Flats. There’s a little interpretive trail winding through the wetlands there and we wanted to see it because these wetlands are where the mighty Columbia River begins. I live near the river about 1,200 miles downstream where it is wide and HUGE. It was very cool to see the spot where it all begins.

Head of the Columbia

Head of the Columbia

The wetland is at the head of Columbia Lake. We stopped at a roadside viewpoint off Highway 95 to check out the view of the lake.

Columbia Lake

With such wet miserable weather, we had perfect conditions for visiting the hot springs. (On a side note, I don’t get the attraction of visiting hot springs during warm weather.) So we went to Radium Hot Springs and enjoyed a nice hot soak.

RadiumHotSprings

After eating dinner in Invermere we found a geocache with a view. Well, not today, as the day’s clouds were clinging to the mountains.

Non-view in Invermere

On the way back to the hotel we saw a bighorn sheep near the road. Based on the signs and warnings we saw all over this area, the sheep love to hang out here and are a common sight.

Bighorn Sheep

This was the view looking west from our hotel that evening. A beautiful sight to end our trip with!

Sunset view

So that was our Canadian Rockies trip! What an insanely gorgeous place. We definitely want to go back and do more exploring and hiking.

<< Day 10: Bugaboo Pass

Canadian Rockies Day 10: Bugaboo Pass

August 5, 2016

There are numerous hiking trails in the vicinity of Radium Hot Springs, where we stayed for the last three nights of our trip, but we were light on books and maps that described those hikes. I had done 100% of the planning for this trip since Greg was so busy, and I had run out of time to plan for this final leg before we left home. So we stopped in at the information center in town this morning after breakfast to see what we could find out. Long story short: Greg saw the following photo in a book called Hikes Around Invermere & the Columbia River Valley:

The Bugaboos are in the Purcell Mountains. Bugaboo Pass is below the Quintet Peaks just beyond Bugaboo Provincial Park’s southern boundary. The trailhead was at least an hour and a half drive from our hotel but the picture was definitely tantalizing, so we bought a copy of the book, went back to our room to gather our hiking gear, and hit the road at 9:50.

After 15 minutes of driving north on paved highway, the rest of the way was on dirt or gravel. The last stretch was pretty rough thanks to the road being chewed up from a logging operation, but we finally arrived at road’s end at 11:50. Road’s end was simply a large log laid across the road, beyond which point it would have been undrivable even without the log blocking our way.

Bugaboo Pass Hike

There was another vehicle there and we asked the driver how much further the trailhead was beyond the log. He said he wasn’t sure. It turned out he was volunteering his time on his day off to clear the trail with a weed whacker. (I realize this sounds like the start of some kind of hiker horror story, but we didn’t get any creepy vibes from this guy at all. He was very nice.)

It turned out the end of the road and the trailhead was just a short ways past the log, and we entered the forest, heading down the brushy trail:

Bugaboo Pass Hike

We had to cross Bugaboo Creek on two parallel logs. Note the crude sign on the near side of the creek, the only sign we saw all day:

Bugaboo Pass Hike

On the other side of the creek we climbed up a brushy slope, and then joined up with the old mining road. Although pretty choked with alder, it is still passable here. According to Northwest Trails: A Hiker’s Guide to National Parks and Wilderness Areas (1982): “The prospector’s road to the 7400-foot pass can be driven only partway so hiking distance varies from 1/2 – 3 miles.” It’s hard to imagine that this road was ever drivable at all. Actually, it’s incredible that this road was even built in the first place.

Bugaboo Pass Hike

According to the book we bought that morning (which was published in 1998), the hike stays with the old road, but things have changed in the past 18 years. We didn’t say with the old road for long before a very clear user trail headed uphill to the right and the way forward on the road looked impassible. So we followed the trail. It was easy enough to follow, but quite steep in spots. At least it wasn’t as brushy as the road. The biting flies were AWFUL, though, and it was a pretty warm day, so the going was tough. This part of the hike was really not fun.

The trail met back up with the road and we continued on toward the pass. This is bear country and our visibility was very low because of the vegetation, so we hollered “hey bear!” as we hiked.

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Then we finally emerged out into the meadows on the slope below the pass.

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Bugaboo Pass Hike

The old road kept switchbacking up, but we went straight following another boot path parallel to and uphill of the creek. The book description in no way reflected reality at this point, and we had no map of this hike (even if we did it too would not have reflected reality), so we simply meandered as we liked. Our late start meant the light was not great for photography (note for you photographers out there: this slope faces east and the best light would be first thing in the morning), but the wildflowers were still a sight to behold.

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Bugaboo Pass Hike

The wildflowers we had encountered thus far were beyond satisfactory and after the steep buggy climb we were too tired to go all the way up to the pass proper, but if we did the view over the other side would have looked something like this (with a heck of a lot less snow). That’s Rory Creek down there:

As we started to head back down, weed-whacker guy emerged from the tree-choked road. We couldn’t believe he had made it all the way up! We thanked him for his hard work, and enjoyed the fruits of his labor on the way back as we hiked down the less-brushy road. It’ll only be a matter of time before nature starts encroaching again, though.

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Crossing back over the creek near the trailhead:

Bugaboo Pass Hike

Navigating the horribly chewed-up road back to the car:

Bugaboo Pass Hike

This was by far the most adventurous hike of our entire trip. So far all our hikes had been in national or provincial parks on signed maintained trails. This hike was not in any park, not officially maintained, with no signs. We have been on trails like this before; we’ve certainly done our fair share of these kinds of hikes back home since the Forest Service doesn’t have much of a trail maintenance budget. This was also the only hike of our trip where we weren’t sharing the trail with hoards of other hikers, which was refreshing. Except for that guy, we didn’t see anybody else on the trail.

<< Day 9: Stanley Glacier | Day 11: Columbia Headwaters

Canadian Rockies Day 9: Stanley Glacier

August 4, 2016

Today we checked out of our hotel in Canmore and headed to Radium Hot Springs on the British Columbia side of the Rockies. We stopped at a roadside pull-out on Highway 93 at Vermillion Pass. There is a sign there acknowledging the Continental Divide and the border between Alberta and British Columbia as well as the border between Banff and Kootenay National Parks.

Continental Divide

Just a short ways beyond that we pulled into the trailhead parking area for the Stanley Glacier Trail. Right away the trail crosses the Vermillion River on a high footbridge.

Stanley Glacier Hike

Stanley Glacier Hike

The trail climbs up the slope through a recovering forest. This area burned in 1968, but most recently burned in August 2003 when crews intentionally set a fire here to prevent the spread of the Tokumm-Verendrye Fire.

Stanley Glacier Hike

The trail crosses Stanley Creek at this super lovely spot backdropped by Stanley Peak:

Stanley Glacier Hike

The trail emerges from the forest and begins climbing up the rocky valley toward our destination, a sort of rocky plateau at the head of the valley, which you can make out in the distance:

Stanley Glacier Hike

Looking back at the way we came and Mt. Whymper across the highway:

Stanley Glacier Hike

Meltwater from an upper snowfield was creating this cool waterfall down the limestone cliff:

Stanley Glacier Hike

Getting closer to the plateau:

Stanley Glacier Hike

Looking back down they valley once we reached the plateau:

Stanley Glacier Hike

Stanley Glacier Hike

The plateau sits just below the Stanley Glacier and is a lovely spot with a forest and a marshy meadow area:

Stanley Glacier Hike

Stanley Glacier Hike

Stanley Glacier Hike

Stanley Glacier Hike

Stanley Glacier Hike

We saw several ptarmigan up there as well. Cool!

Stanley Glacier Hike

Stanley Glacier Hike

The water flowing from the glacier is the start of Stanley Creek, a delightful burbling body of water:

Stanley Glacier Hike

Stanley Glacier Hike

Stanley Glacier Hike

Stanley Glacier Hike

After hanging out on the plateau and enjoying the lovely spot, we headed back down. Greg paused at the edge of the plateau to admire the view:

Stanley Glacier Hike

Back in the car we drove all the way through Kootenay National Park to the other side and the town of Radium Hot Springs where we checked into our hotel. The hotel turned out to be not very good, but we did have a nice view west of the mountains.

Radium Hot Springs view

<< Day 8: Afternoon Tea | Day 10: Bugaboo Pass >>

Three Days in Vancouver

Greg and I started off our Canadian honeymoon by staying in Vancouver for a few days. We drove up on Saturday, July 23 and checked into our Airbnb condo in the city.

City view

After dinner we tried to catch the bus to the beach so we could watch the fireworks. After waiting for more than half an hour, our bus finally arrived but it said “full.” Crap. So we started walking. We got to the beach right as the fireworks were starting, but we weren’t near the music and we hadn’t brought our radio. Turns out the fireworks aren’t nearly as cool without the music. But we still enjoyed the show, then began the mile and a half walk back to the condo.

On Sunday we went to Grounds for Coffee for our favorite yummy cinnamon rolls. Delicious!

Cinnamon roll

We spent the morning exploring Pacific Spirit Park out by UBC. It was a lovely morning for walking in the woods and finding geocaches.

Pacific Spirit Park

Geocaching

In the afternoon we stopped by the library to check out the cool little gift shop run by the Friends of the Library, but it was closed, dang it! Across the street we found one of the Keys to the Streets public pianos and Greg took it for a spin.

Piano

Before dinner we stopped by the lovely Lan Su Classical Chinese Garden, which neither of us had visited before. It’s a little oasis of calm in the middle of the busy city.

Chinese Garden

Chinese garden

On Monday we rented bikes and rode the Stanley Park Seawall, which is one of our favorite things to do in Vancouver. I didn’t bring along my nice camera on this excursion, but got a few photos on my phone. What a lovely day!

Seawall

Stanley Park

After returning the bikes we went to Granville Island and had lunch. Mojitos were the special of the day, so of course we had to get some!

Mojitos

Even on a weekday Granville Island was busy and bustling.

Granville Island

Granville Island

On Tuesday we bid adieu to Vancouver and drove all the way across the province to Jasper National Park. Woo hoo!