Going Higher in Lake LouiseShare
Finishing 3 days of climbing in the backcountry didn’t change plans much as we simply moved down the Lake Louise campground to do the same thing. The main upside to this was the access to showers and restocking on groceries. Aside from that we were driving to the mountains instead of hiking to the nearest ones.
The weather was an ever present issue as we tried to pick the clearest days for the highest peaks. The fact that the forcasts were wrong most every day didn’t help. Clear mornings with clouds in the afternoon predictions became rain in the morning and cloudy later. In the end there wasn’t a single clear day in the next week and 40 minutes of sleet at the top of one mountain.
The next two days we actually didn’t get to the summits. At Mount Weed north of Bow Summit we climbed and climbed reaching narrowing chutes with loose rock all around waiting for an excuse to come down and still no summit in site. We decided to turn around taking our time to make sure the person below was clear before the next descended. This lasted for 15 minutes until we saw the clouds rolling in began to hurry. Rain and wind came first followed by thunder and lighting as we hurried down from 10,000 feet across open ground. Not a good place to be.
The next day we drove 2.5 hours to Canada’s Glacier National Park. Jana had not one, but two pairs of crampons with her for glacier hiking. Turns out they don’t have a glacier to walk on and our glacier crest trail turned us back right next to the top at which point the clouds were so thick you couldn’t see 15 feet. Why bother to go on if all we were doing was getting cold and wet?
This was about the time that two independent solo travelers began to really notice that they weren’t used to being around someone else all the time. Our pattern didn’t change too much over the next few days, but the quality of the trip did. We each took a trip to Banff on our own over the next two days. I found mine incredibly refreshing to remember that there were other people and things going on in the world. I was able to get online for an hour, get glue to try repair my hiking boots that a weeks worth of climbing had pretty much destroyed, and unwind on my own.
There were a few close calls, but we continued climbing; the Tower of Babel near Moraine Lake, Little Hector Mountain, and finishing with Mount Carnarvon. The final mountain was outstanding. Starting at 4,250 feet and finishing at 10,175 it was almost a 6,000 foot climb and barely seemed like half that to me. A long way from the 3,000 foot ascent that I struggled through back in the Grand Canyon. This hike started at the beautiful Emerald Lake in Yoho NP went through 3 miles of forest before reaching Hamilton Lake. From there it was a 3 hour ascent up 3,000 feet. A gorgeous glacier stayed in view on our right and the climb was just the right amount of challenge and rise.
As we neared the summit sleet began falling, but we could see sun coming so we waited it out on the top. The end of our time together was near and both of us were realizing that it hadn’t been so bad after all which was nice as well. Staying up here for well over an hour we experienced nearly all 4 seasons and could see for miles in every direction. To finish off the day we spent the last mile of the hike picking huckelberries and blueberries along the way. Sorry bears you’ll have to go hungry this year (or search the plants not directly on the trail).
Jana was setting off for another 4 day backpacking trip in Yoho and I was on my was to Nakusp BC, just 200 miles away for a Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travel meetup. My detour wasn’t actually so far out of my way after all, just took me back somewhere I didn’t expect to be again and moved up my departure from Alaska by about a week.