HIKING IN THE MAGNIFICENT CANADIAN ROCKIES

- 2003 - 

JULY 15-20
TOWN OF FIELD, BC (1)
(elevation 1,243 m asl)
We stayed at: Coyote's Den B&B
* A Travel Guide to Field
* Field's Accommodation Guide
* Map of Park

Description

The village of Field dates from 1884 when the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway reached this point in the rockies. It was named after Cyrus W. Field, promoter of the Trans-Atlantic cable, who visited the area. The present site was surveyed in 1904 after the north side of the village was destroyed by an avalanche off Mt. Burgess.

Yoho Park was named as such by Deville and it means "wonder, astonishment" in Cree Indian.

At the time of our stay in Field the weather was superb; hot but with low humidity [one afternoon the temperature reached 320 C in the shade; humidity kept around 25%].

The trails were most often dusty.

CARRY ON

Trails we Hiked While in Field (1)

July 15-20
  • TIME: 3 hrs up - 2 hrs and 40 mn down.
  • DISTANCE: 5.5 Km to lake.
  • ELEVATION: +855 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 2,149 m.
NOTES:
On the morning after we arrived in Field, and after a very early rise in order to be first in line at the Parks Canada Information Centre and get 2 day passes for Lake O'HARA (for the next day), we bravely tackled the hike to Hamilton lake.

We started from the trailhead at quarter to 8 in the morning. The weather was beautiful, by the time we arrived back at the parking lot the temperature had reached 24 0C.

This trail is indeed rather steep, but definitely well worth the effort. It seems that this is not a popular trail; we encountered only one other hiker.

Hamilton lake setting is very picturesque.
  • TIME: 5.5 hrs total.
  • DISTANCE: 11.8 km total.
  • ELEVATION: +338 m [Odaray].
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 2,350 m [Odaray].
NOTES:
The weather was just perfect, hardly a cloud in the sky. Our visit to Lake O'HARA had 3 main objectives: Lake McArthur, Odaray Highline and the loop around Lake O'HARA.

The hike to Lake McArthur took 1 hour. At McArthur Pass we opted for the High Level cut off; the first view of the lake from this trail is remarkable. On the way back we took the Lower McArthur trail.

At the time of our visit, the access to the Odaray trail was restricted to only 4 parties a day [must sign in before proceeding]. We went as far as the junction that leads to the Odaray Grandview. From here there is a fine view of Lake O'HARA and surrounding peaks.

The loop around lake O'HARA takes about 1 hr. [including shooting lots of pictures] and offers beautiful backdrops.

The times for the return bus for the day-pass visitors had been changed to 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. (if seats are available you can take the two earlier buses, which are normally used for the guests at the lodge/chalets and for the campers).

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  • TIME: 2 hrs to glacier viewpoint.
  • DISTANCE: 4.2 Km.
  • ELEVATION: +365 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 1,950 m.
NOTES:
We observed many butterflies along the upper part of the trail.
  • TIME: 2.5 hrs to reach the pass.
  • DISTANCE: 5.8 Km to the pass.
  • ELEVATION: +724 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 2,611 m.
NOTES:
By 7:45 we were at Moraine lake and on our way to the pass. The morning temperature at the lake registered 100 C.; when we returned in the afternoon it had reached 250 C.

The climb to Larch valley includes 10 long switchbacks.
At the time of our visit, Parks Canada was not yet enforcing the "at least 6 in a group" policy, due to grizzly bear activity in the area. It was however enforced one week later, for both Larch valley and the Paradise valley trails.
  • TIME: 2 hrs loop.
  • DISTANCE: 5.2 Km loop.
  • ELEVATION: negligible.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 1,361 m.
NOTES:
We walked the Emerald lake loop late one afternoon. The colour of the lake was different from when we visited it during the earlier hours of the day, but still beautiful nonetheless.

We followed the trail clockwise and we found the first half (western side) to be more interesting than the east side, for the grand backdrops that it has to offers.
  • TIME: 2.5 hrs to the pass.
  • DISTANCE: 6.1 Km to the pass.
  • ELEVATION: +275 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 2,202 m.
NOTES:
On our way to Jasper we opted to hike the easy trail to Nigel pass, situated on the right of the highway just after the Bridal Veil Falls viewpoint.

Lots of wild flowers along the trail.
Had to ford a couple of creeks with a fair amount of rushing water.

The Brazeau river had a fair amount of water so we decided not to attempt the crossing and stayed on top of the pass and have lunch instead.
SPECIAL NOTE

Along the trail to Lake Oesa we noticed a plaque honouring Lawrence Grassi for his contribution to the design and building of the many trails around Lake O'Hara and other places in the Canadian rockies.

Lawrence Grassi was born in 1890 in the town of Falmenta, in the province of Verbania, near LagoMaggiore, Italy. Lawrence emigrated to Canada in 1912 working first with Canadian Pacific Railway than as a miner for Canmore Mines.
He climbed solo many peaks in the Rockies and worked as an unofficial guides to many other mountaineers. Eventually he became an assistant warden at Lake O'Hara.

There is a school, a lake and a mountain named in his honour. Lawrence died in 1980. (This information was provided by the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff ).

*** My page on Lawrence Grassi (in italian)

JULY 21-26
TOWN OF JASPER, AB
(elevation 1,000 m. asl)
We stayed at: Becker's Chalets
* JASPER B&B
* Jasper National Park

Description

While in Jasper we had plan to hike the following trails: Sulphur Skyline but due to prescribed burn in one of the valley east of Jasper there was a lot of haze in the area of Miette; so we opted for other activities and trails instead; Opal hills was closed for a grizzly with cubs (same as previous year).

CARRY ON

Trails we Hiked While in Jasper

July 21-26
  • TIME: 1 hr 15 minutes to the lake.
  • DISTANCE: 4.5 Km to the lake.
  • ELEVATION: +144 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 1,006 m.
NOTES:
From Jasper we drove westbound for about 1 hour to Robson Provincial Park . At 8:30 the temperature at the trailhead was 100 C. Beautiful sunny day; we were told that the summit of Mt. Robson (elev. 3,954; highest point in the Canadian Rockies) is only visible 12 times in the course of a year, but this year it had been visible already for over two consecutive weeks.

The roar of the fast flowing Robson river is ever present till you reach the vicinity of Kinney lake, where the water suddenly becomes calm.

The peak of Mt. Robson is practically visible all along the trail.
  • TIME: 2.5 hrs return.
  • DISTANCE: 8 km return.
  • ELEVATION: +290 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 2,043 m.
NOTES:
When we arrived at the parking lot at 8:00 there were only 4 other cars. By the time we got back, at 10:30, the parking lot was completely jammed.

The road to Edith Cavell was in very bad shape with several huge potholes in the pavement, especially at the upper section.
  • TIME: 3 hrs return (to just above first lake).
  • DISTANCE: 7.6 km return.
  • ELEVATION: +275 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 1,800 m.
NOTES:
We were driving to Sulphur Skyline trail when the haze and smoke from the forest fire was obscuring sections of the road ahead and the valley, so we decided to turn back and hike the Geraldine Lakes trail south of Jasper.

This trail has long sections of exposed tree roots, especially when following the trail along the shore of the first lake.
The first lake setting is very nice with Mt. Fryatt (3,361 m.) reflecting in the green calm water and the roar of the falls tumbling down from the upper lake.

At the end of the first lake the trail gets very rough and steep (300 m. gain) crossing over several huge boulders sections and it is marked only by cairns; slow going.

This is where we turned back because the trail section that takes up to the second lake is even steeper and longer than this section (enough said).
  • TIME: 1 hr return (to/from top of gondola building).
  • DISTANCE: 1.1 Km to summit.
  • ELEVATION: +200 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 2,466 m.
NOTES:
Naturally we chose the gondola, even so the climb to the top is rather steep.

The weather was just great and it allowed a breathtaking 3600 panorama from the top. Mt. Robson was clearly visible to the west, rising above everything else in sight.

July 27-31
TOWN OF FIELD, BC (2)
(elevation 1,243 m asl)
We stayed at: Coyote's Den B&B
* A Travel Guide to Field
* Field's Accommodation Guide
* Map of Park

Description

None available.

CARRY ON

Trails we hiked While in Field (2)

July 27-31
  • TIME: 1 hr to the lake .
  • DISTANCE: 3.1 Km to the lake.
  • ELEVATION: +185 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 1,804 m.
NOTES:
Very hot day.
The lake had calm waters reflecting the beautiful surrounding peaks.
  • TIME: 45 minutes to viewpoint.
  • DISTANCE: 2.4 Km to viewpoint.
  • ELEVATION: +275 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 2,270 m.
NOTES:
The weather was so great that we decided to drive back to Parker Ridge (1.5 hr. drive from Field); we hiked the same trail the previous year when the visibility wasn't that great.

The temperature on the ridge was 180 C. and 250 C. at the parking lot on our way back.

On this day, July 29, the temperature in Field was 320 C. in the shade and 380 C. in the sun; these reading were taken at 18:30.
  • TIME: 7 hrs round trip.
  • DISTANCE: 17.2 km loop.
  • ELEVATION: +686 m. (in the first 6 Km).
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 2,195 m.
NOTES:
We hiked the Iceline trail clockwise, following the Celeste lake connector down to the Yoho valley.
Contrary to the previous year, today the weather was hot and sunny.
When we started, at 8:45, the temperature was 150 C. and 25 0 C. at 16:00 when we arrived back at the car.

Because of the clear weather the view of the glaciers was most spectacular.

From the Iceline trail we had an excellent view of Daly glacier and Takakkaw Falls (named by Van Horne, suggested to him by Deville, using the Cree Indian word for "it is wonderful"; total fall of 380 m.; free-fall 254 m.) across the Yoho valley.

The sun beamed its first rays on the falls only at 11:15.

The meltwater from the glaciers was quite abundant, therefore we had to cross, without much difficulty, a few rushing creeks.

Back in Field the temperature was again reading 320 C.

July 31
CANMORE , AB
(elevation 1,341 m asl)
We stayed at: Haven of Rest

CARRY ON

Trails we hiked While in Canmore

July 31
  • TIME: 1.5 hrs loop.
  • DISTANCE: 4 Km loop.
  • ELEVATION: +244 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 1,500 m.
NOTES:
We hiked the trail clockwise following the scenic route that takes you by the beautiful falls. The two lakes are small but very picturesque.

This trail was built by the beloved Lawrence Grassi himself.

When we left Canmore for Calgary on August 1st, the smoke from the forest fires was obscuring the view of the mountains towards Banff.

Bibliography
  1. The Canadian Rockies Trail Guide; Brian Patton and Bart Robinson, Summerthought Publication, Banff, Canada - Second edition, 1978
  2. Plants of the Rocky Mountains; L. Kershaw, A. Mac Kinnon, J. Pojar, Lone Pine Pub. Canada & USA - 1998
  3. Tour Book; AAA & CAA, AAA Pub. - 2001
  4. Maps by Gem Trek Publishing; Cochrane, Alberta, Canada
  5. Classic Hikes in the Canadian Rockies; Graeme Pole, Altitude Publishing Canada Ltd. , Vancouver - 1999
  6. The Wonder of Yoho; Don Beers, Rocky Mountain Books, Calgary - 1994
Page originally created October - 2003
New graphic April 2020
Giorgio Zanetti