ilanarama: profile of me backpacking.  Woo. (hiking)
[personal profile] ilanarama
Our original plan was to go to Yoho National Park directly after leaving Lake Louise, but we hadn't realized that our departure date from the Chateau was the Friday before Canada's August Long Weekend. (That's what they called it. I asked the concierge what was being celebrated, and she shrugged. "It's just the long weekend holiday! It's not for anything!") The fancy lodge in Yoho that we wanted to stay at was booked up, as were all the advance campsites. So we made a reservation for later that week, and decided to take our chances at the larger campgrounds in Banff NP along the Icefields Parkway.

Despite driving up before noon, we found no room at the campgrounds. Fortunately, the Canadian National Parks have fairly nice overflow campgrounds available; the one we went to, Silverhorn, was basically a big parking lot with picnic tables around the edges, but there were nice tent sites, a pretty creek, and the view was incredible.

Cocktail hour along Silverhorn Creek

After scoping out the situation and claiming a tent site (even though we were in our Sportsmobile, we figured the tent area would be quieter, which turned out to be the case for several nights but not all of them) we drove back to the south to Bow Lake, the trailhead for Bow Glacier Falls. The trail was occasionally underwater as we went around the lake, but we managed to cling to the edges and take alternate routes to keep our feet dry.

Hiking along Bow Lake Bow Lake

Bow Lake Hiking along Bow Lake

Finally the trail climbed up along the river at the lake's inlet, and then above it as the rock walls narrowed to enclose the river in a deep gorge. (Which seems pretty typical of the Canadian Rockies!) BTW in this photo, the large boulder at the center top spans the river, and a side trail uses this boulder as a bridge to cross the river!

Narrows, Bow Glacier outflow

Above the narrows, the trail went over a small ridge and into a large basin where another river joined the Bow. From there we could see the impressive waterfall spilling over the cliff from the glacier above.

Hiking to Bow Glacier Falls Confluence

Bow Glacier Falls Bow Glacier Falls

The next day we drove north along the Icefields Parkway. First we stopped at Mistaya Canyon, another amazingly narrow gorge carved through the limestone:

Mistaya Canyon Mistaya Canyon

Mistaya Canyon Britt and Ilana by Mistaya River

We hiked up to Parker Ridge for a picnic lunch and a spectacular view of the Saskatchewan Glacier:

Sitting on Parker Ridge Saskatchewan Glacier

We went as far north as the Icefield Center, just past Sunwapta Pass, which marks the boundary between the Banff and Jasper National Parks. This is where you can get on one of those specially-outfitted buses to go out on the Athabasca Glacier under the Columbia Icefield, but the lines were huge and we weren't really into that anyway, and opted instead just to walk the trail on the ice-smoothed rock to close to the glacier's toe. Most interesting to me were the signs showing where the glacier's farthest extent had reached in various years in the past; like nearly all North American glaciers, this one's been retreating rapidly over the 20th and 21st centuries.

On our way back to our camp we stopped at Nigel Creek, which - well, you've heard of whitewater rafting? This is literally whitewater, the whitest water we'd ever seen. It's due to suspended very finely crushed white rock particles.

Nigel Creek, oh so white!

We also stopped at an unmarked spot along the Saskatchewan River, where much to our astonishment the river completely disappeared! The entire river squeezed itself into a tiny slot to thunder through yet another narrow gorge. It was sort of spooky, considering that after this trip we'd be going rafting....

The disappearing Saskatchewan River The disappearing Saskatchewan River

The disappearing Saskatchewan River

We had planned to hike to Helen Lake and Dolomite Pass on our last day on the Icefield Parkway, but when we got to the trailhead it was roped off. A sign informed us that the trail was closed due to grizzly bear sightings; they don't mess around with these things in Canada. After some dithering, we decided to backtrack down to the Lake Louise ski area, where we embarked on the long (7 miles each way) but not overly difficult trek to Ptarmigan Lake and Deception Pass.

Ptarmigan Lake

Flickr album with these and more pictures

Next stop, Yoho!
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ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)

August 2017

131415 16171819
20212223 242526

My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31

You can reach me by email at heyheyilana @


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