HIKING IN THE MAGNIFICENT CANADIAN ROCKIES

- 2012 - 

Opabin Plateau

July 21-30

BANFF, AB

We stayed at: Arkle House

:::.. B&B Canada

Description

This year, this part of the Rockies had a late spring, followed by a wet season; consequently most of the alpine flora was still in bloom and the fire hazard was kept to a low or moderate level.

On Friday July 20, a day before our arrival, the Trans-Canada Highway was closed in both direction due to a mudslide just west of Banff. It was eventually cleared by 1:30 Saturday morning.

The local newspaper [Banff Crag & Canyon; Wednesday, July 25, 2012] reported that traffic was backed up for hours. Nobody could get through the park gates unless you were a resident or had "confirmed hotel or campsite reservations".

:::.. Banff National Park

Trails we hiked While in Banff (1)

July 21-30
  • TIME: 1 hr 45' one way.
  • DISTANCE: 3.9 Km one way.
  • ELEVATION: +455 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 1,920 m.
NOTES:
The bug spray is a must for this trail. We encountered some hikers - with children! - without it and they were struggling.

The climb is all through the forest; along the way there are old mine buildings and old fenced in shaft-vent holes.

Not the most breathtaking cirque, but still a very interesting geological feature carved by an acient and - alas - vanished glacier.
  • TIME: hr 2 return.
  • DISTANCE: 5.4 Km. return.
  • ELEVATION: +250 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 2,250 m.
NOTES:
We hiked this classic trail with our 3 grandchildren and their parents (their first time). We had lunch at the top overlooking the Saskatchewan Glacier.

Great time was had by all.
  • TIME: 55 minutes one way.
  • DISTANCE: 2.3 Km one way.
  • ELEVATION: +300 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 1,690 m.
NOTES:
Hiked this trail with the grandchildren and family (this time -1).

Great views of Banff, the western Bow valley and the Massive Range peaks.
  • TIME: 2 hr one way.
  • DISTANCE: 3.7 Km one way.
  • ELEVATION: +600m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 2,330 m.
NOTES:
This is a very steep trail.
The first section of the trail is mainly in the woods; once reache the pass you can continue to the top of Fairview Mountain (add another 1.3 km on a faint trail or simply scramble up; from here you will have a grand view of Mt Victoria, Mt. Temple and Lake Louise).
We didn't proceed further due to dark clouds moving in.

Trails we hiked While in Banff (2)

July 21-30
  • TIME: 6 hrs 30' one way.
  • DISTANCE: 16 km total.
  • ELEVATION: +105 m & -80 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 2,330 m.
NOTES:
It was a great sunny day. We caught the first bus up @ 8 a.m.

First we hiked the Twin Cairns/Meadows Park trail, including the Standish Viewpoint balcony, continuing to just passed the Monarch Viewpoint.

This trail is very easy and practically level [excluding the climb to the Standish Viewpoint], with lots of wild flowers.
We backtrack on the same trail to continue the exploration for Grizzly Lake, Larix Lake and returning via the Rock Isle Lake and down to the village to catch the first bus down [the bus ride takes about 30 minutes].

Well worth a visit.
  • TIME: 1 hr 30' one way.
  • DISTANCE: 3.6 one way [glacier viewpoint] or 4.7 to botttom of falls one way.
  • ELEVATION: +95 m. [steep wooden stairs from the bottom of cabyon at the end of the trail fro 200m]
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 2,055 m.
NOTES:
The trails follows the north shores of Bow Lake and the gravelly flats of the tributary creek of Bow Lake. At times the trail was muddy.
  • TIME: 2 hr 15' one way tp Taylor Lake / from Taylor Lake add 1 hr to O'Brian Lake.
  • DISTANCE: 6.3 km one way to Taylor Lake / ad 2.5 km backtracking to O'Brian Lake.
  • ELEVATION: +585 m. to Taylor Lake.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 2,065 m.
NOTES:
This is a very scenic lake, notwithstanding the rather uninspiring trail.

Equally attractive is O'Brian Lake. The junction to O'Brian lake, just a few meters before reaching Taylor Lake, is not maintained by Parks Canada (a sign says as much at the beginning of the trail) and in fact we had to pass over 3 trees that had fallen accross the trail (for one of them, was easier to go around it due to its many branches impeding the way).

After crossing the estuary of the lake, the trail gets rather muddy and soggy; actually there is no trail per se. For the next .5 km we followed what looked like a path here and there (someone had passed before us) in the direction of the lake (keeping the creek well to our right) and eventually arrived at the lake.
Opabin Plateau

July 31-August 3

Description

The village of Field dates from 1884 when the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway reached this point. 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 National Park was named as such by Deville and it means "wonder, astonishment" in Cree Indian.

:::... A TRAVEL GUIDE TO FIELD

:::... Reservation Day Bus Only to Lake O'Hara (as of 2020)

Trails we hiked While in Field

July 31-August 3
  • TIME: 2 hrs 30' return.
  • DISTANCE: 7 Km. return .
  • ELEVATION: +310 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 2,345 m.
NOTES:
When we visited this lake for the last couple of years, we found it always frozen.
This year it was completely free of ice and the water displayed its beautiful colours (when the sun was not hiding behind the clouds).

The wheater forcast was not the best. Cloudy with a 60% of rain.

Went up on the the @ 8:30 bus.

At Schäffer Lake we took the preferred High Level Cutoff.

At the lake, just the 2 of us (10:30 a.m.), which was great. As we were leaving 4 more people were arriving.

Later, along the narrow upper trail, many more groups of hikers were going up.

When we arrived at the Relais, it started to drizzle; eventually it turned into steady rain.

This called for a hot choclate and the excellent carrot cake, sold at the Relais. The temperature at 2 p.m. was 7o C

We took the 2:30 p.m. bus down.
  • TIME: 2 hrs 45' one way.
  • DISTANCE: 6.4 Km one way.
  • ELEVATION: +690 m.
  • MAXIMUM ELEVATION: 2,210 m.
NOTES:
The forecast was predicting a sunny day with cloudy periods, with chance of showers in the afternoon.

Started the ascent by 8:30 a.m.

The temperature was 6o C.

It became a rather busy trail.

Great view over the Yoho Valley, Takakkaw Falls, etc.

We had done the Iceline loop once before; this time we decided to go as far as the summit and backtrack the same way down. This section is the more interesting one.

Just before the summit there is a huge boulder, in the form of a ship, where one can get rest in its shade. Nearby, a babbling stream cascading from the above fast melting glaciers.

With due precaution, one can get very close to the toe of the glaciers.

By the afternoon, on our way down, dark clouds moved in, but no precipitation.

Today was the day that a bus got stuck on the second hairpin turn (long vehicles are required to back up to the next tuen)on the way up to Takkaw Falls.
It got stuck just after midday. After variou attempts by emergency personnell, a second much larger tow truck+crane was summoned from Golden (1 hr plus drive west of Field) and it was finally removed and the road was cleared at 7:30 p.m.

The line of cars stopped on the road going down was backed up to Tkakkaw Falls parking lot, 7km long.

Apparently it is not the first time that such accident has occurred here.

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 August - 2012
New graphic April 2020
Giorgio Zanetti