The Skyline Trail is over the top of the Maligne Range in Jasper National Park in Alberta. Today's hike is over the last 14 km to Jasper townsite. For those hikers who wish to take it slower may stay overnight at the Signal Mountain campground.
From the Tekkara campground the distance is 5km through wildflower alpine meadows past the shoulders of Tekarra and Signal Mountain.
[101-Smokey Athabasca Valley]
[102-Pyramid Mountain from Skyline Trail]
[103-Mount Tekarra northern most peak]
[104-On Tekaara looking down - click to enlarge]
[105-Looking back at Mt. Tekarra]
[106-Looking at valley with the Yellowhead Highway - click to enlarge]
The trail drops down to the Signal mountain fire road via numerous switchbacks to the campground.
[109-Fireroad at Signal Mountain]
Descending the trail to the right, the fire road passes the junction to Signal campground before plunging into the forest with a final 9km trudge downhill dropping over 800m in elevation. This is very hard on the knees. At the bottom of Signal Mountain at Annette Lake is a parking lot where the hiker may catch a ride back to Jasper on the Maligne Lake Shuttle or to retrieve your car from another location.
[1-West Montrose Covered Bridge in St. Jacobs County over the Grand River in Ontario - click to enlarge]
One of the local attractions close to St. Jacobs is the "Kissing Bridge" in West Montrose that was built in 1881 by John and Benjamin Bear and is the last remaining covered bridge in Ontario. Originally constructed out of wood, repairs to the bridge have been made with a combination of steel, wood concrete, asphalt and stone to replace the abutments, piers and deck. By designing a bridge with a cover it was found to last 70 or 80 years longer than a regular bridge of 10 to 15 years.
“John Bear wrote the specifications in longhand to accompany his drawings. The bridge was to be 198 feet long, 20 feet wide and 13 feet from the low water mark to the top of the corbel. Hardwood was used throughout the structure, but pine was reserved for the rafters. The original timbers were very large, measuring 50 feet long and 9 to 18 inches thick.
“When the bridge was built it measured approximately 208 feet long, 17 feet wide and 13 feet high. Originally, the substructure (pier and abutements) was made of cedar cribs filled with loose stone. The oak planks for the floor were joined with 7 inch wrought iron spikes.”*
In 1904 the bridge was closed for the first time to have the original oak floor planked on top. The wooden trusses were replaced in 1933. Further repairs were made between 1955 and 1996 while maintaining the original appearance.
Load limit is 3 tonnes.
The covered bridge was recognized as a historic site by the Ontario Heritage Foundation in 1960.
The specifications for this bridge are available at the Kitchener Public Library’s Grace Schmidt Room and the Elmira Municipal Archives.
The name “Kissing Bridge” comes from the traditional cost of the toll as it is being secluded and against the law to travel faster than a walk. Local girls learned to be wary when the horse stopped of its own accord without any signal from the driver.
[2-Mennonite Buggy after crossing the Montrose Covered Bridge - click to enlarge]
St. Jacobs is home to a small population of Mennonites. The rural areas around St. Jacobs are populated with many Old Order Mennonite farmers who retain the religion, customs and lifestyle of their 19th century forefathers. They are separate from the other Mennonite orders in Canada.
RuneE, a photographer, from Norway has begun posting photos of benches on Fridays. I thought I would join him today with a bench at an exquisite location: Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park, British Columbia. Clicking on the photo will enlarge it for better viewing.
For readers joining today's hike, the Skyline Trail covers 45km from the trailhead at Maligne Lake to Annette Lake near Jasper. The Skyline Trail is in Jasper National Park in Alberta.
From the Curator campground to Tekkara campground the distance is 11km with a loss of elevation of 100m. If the weather looks to have turned inclement and appears to be settling in, it is recommended that hikers take an alternative route out: via the Watchtower Trail or the Wabasso Trail. The reason is the 4km over the Notch and along the ridge on Amber Mountain leaves the hiker completely exposed to the elements. Any hiker should be prepared for hard conditions on the ridge as it can be very cold. It has been known to snow in July.
About 200m from the Curator campground is the Shovel Pass Lodge run by an outfitter who caters to hikers although trail rides by horseback are their forté.
Here the alpine meadows tend to be barren of vegetation except for lichen and the odd clump of wildflowers.
[69-Trail above the Curator campground]
[70-Marmot in rocks]
Beyond the Curator campground the trail climbs toward Curator Lake where The Notch is visible.
[71-Looking toward The Notch]
[72-Curator Lake and The Notch]
[73-Hiking past Curator Lake toward The Notch]
[74-Looking back over Curator Lake toward the Big Shovel Pass and Curator Mountain]
Once past Curator Lake the trail begins an abrupt ascent to the Notch.
[75-Climbing toward the cornice on The Notch]
The elevation increases on the climb to The Notch with 345m in slightly over 2km to a height of 2,480m.
When nearing the cornice at the top of the pass hikers are reminded to navigate this on the right. To stand on or below the cornice is a risk experienced hikers do not take.
[76-The Cornice at The Notch]
[77-The Cornice at The Notch at pass]
[78-Snow capped Mt Robson 90 km away]
[79-Mt Edith Cavell across Athabasca Valley from The Notch]
[80-Looking down at Curator Lake - click to enlarge]
From The Notch the trail follows the top of the ridge on Amber Mountain and down the other side for a distance of 5km.
[81-Unnamed tarns from Amber Mountain]
[82-View south from Amber Mountain]
[83-Skyline Trail along Amber Mountain]
[84-On Amber Mountain ridge]
[85-Distant Mt. Robson from Amber Mountain]
[86-Hikers traverse the Notch going south - click to enlarge]
[87-Hikers headed toward the Notch in opposite direction - click to enlarge]
At the north end of Amber Mountain the trail begins to descend in a twisted trail,
[88-Tekarra Mountain and zig-zagging trail]
through a rock filled valley with Mount Tekarra on the left and Excelsior on the right.
[90-Colin Range from Skyline Trail]
[91-Centre Lake and Centre Mountain]
[92-Amber Mountain col - click to enlarge]
[93-Heading down trail]
[94-Closer look at Mt. Tekarra - click to enlarge]
[96-Tarns beneath Mt. Tekarra - click to enlarge]
At the head of the valley is Center Creek and Center Lake on the north side of Mount Tekarra. Mount Tekarra, 2,693m, is situated between the Athabasca and the Maligne River valleys. The mountain was officially named in 1859 after a First Nations guide led explorer James Hector and his expedition to the Athabasca River.
[97-Mt. Tekarra - click to enlarge]
[98-View of Mt. Tekarra 50m from campground - click to enlarge]
The Tekarra campground is at the 30km mark of the 45km distance. This photo is taken about 50m away from the Tekarra campground which is surrounded by pine trees. As there is water nearby hopefully the hiker has remembered to bring along mosquito repellant though not citronella, as this tends to attract bears.
The campgrounds are basic ‘backcountry campgrounds’ with a small patch of uneven ground, small common area with two picnic tables, a food suspension cable and an open pit toilet. The use of gas stoves is mandatory as campfires are not permitted.