Thursday, 2 October 2008

Hiking Trails - Healy Pass Trail - Day 5 of 11

This post belongs to the first series of hikes, which is a 11-day backpacking trip from Kananaskis, along the Continental Divide to Yoho National Park. Today's post covers the fifth day.

Howard Douglas Lake to Egypt Lake
18km – 8 hours – moderate – closest town: Banff, AB

Elevation gain - 440 m (1,450 ft).

[1 -Leaving Howard Douglas Lake and Citadel Peak]

[2 –Over Quartz Hill]

[3- Rock Isle Lake]

[4 –Sunshine Meadows]

[5-Sunshine Meadows]

The hiker now enters the vast undulating subalpine flower filled Sunshine Meadows, through which runs the Great Divide. This is vulnerable, much-visited terrain, so it is important to stay on the trail, which, as the ski resort draws near, becomes a gravel walkway carefully edged and graded. Take the trail to the Sunshine Village Interpretive Centre where the hiker can obtain from the restaurant ‘real food’ or shelter from bad weather.

34.8 miles (55.6 km) — Sunshine Village. Elevation: 7,200 feet (2,160 metres)

Immediately above the resort, Wawa Ridge is crossed, providing good views of the meadows behind and Mount Assiniboine from its crest. The trail then heads over Simpson Pass.

[6-Simpson Pass trail]

[7-Simpson Pass trail]

After descending to Simpson Pass, named for Sir George Simpson of the Hudson's Bay Company who crossed it while searching for a new route for fur traders across the Rockies in 1841.

Then ascending Healy Pass, at 7,650 feet (2,295m), which gives good views all around including, almost inevitably, the distant Mount Assiniboine, although this is the last clear view.

[8 - Up Healy Pass trail]

[9- Healy Pass flowers]

40.5 miles (64.8 km) — Healy Pass. Elevation: 7,650 feet (2,295 meters)

[10 - Distant Mt Assiniboine from Healy Pass]

[11 - Monarch Ramparts from Healy Pass]

[12 - From Healy Pass west near Egypt Lake]

West of the pass can be seen the clustered Pharaoh Peaks where we are headed and in the far distance, snow capped Mt. Ball.

[13- Pharaoh Lake below Pharaoh Peaks from Healy Pass]

[14- Scarab and Egypt Lakes below Haiduk Peak, Sugarloaf on left, Pharaoh Peaks on right]

Then down to Egypt Lake.

[15- Egypt Lake and Haiduk Peak]

[16- Scarab Lake meadows below Haiduk Peak]

and Scarab Lake, one lake sitting directly above the other with a connecting waterfall - a rare sight!

[17- falls from Scarab Lake]

A descent leads to the highly popular yet, forest-shaded Egypt Lake Campground, where there is a shelter.

42.5 miles (68.0 km) — Egypt Lake Campground. Elevation: 6,545 feet (1,963.5 meters)

All campsites have an area set away from tent sites for eating and cooking which include "May (bear) Poles" for food storage - a waterproof food storage bag with a carabin clip is needed and you hook this onto a cable pulling it up so that it is way out of reach of any hungry bears (it's a good idea to put your toiletries in this bag also as various perfumes etc. attract bears as well). The cooking/eating area is a great place for meeting other hikers.


Everything else, especially your boots which porcupines will gnaw for the salt from your sweaty feet, should be kept in the tent.


Photo Credits: [1]-meganpru CC=nc-flickr, [2][3][4][5][6][7]-totten_photos CC=nc-nd-flickr, [8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17]-brilang CC=nc-sa-flickr, [18]-wikipedia.


Anonymous said...

Some of these photos take my breath away in their spectacular beauty. I cannot imagine how wonderful it would be to physically be there.It's also strange and wonderful how our porcupines, hedgehogs and echidnas are similar but delightfully different.I'm disappointed I did't get to see a hedgehog when I was in England a few years ago.The little porcupine looks very unusual to me compared to the strong stick-like quills on Australian echidnas.

BernardL said...

Boots left out will attract all kinds of unwanted visitors. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

I want to camp out on that little rock isle in the middle of the lake.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

the first shot with the lake? (or any of the others) I am moving there, oh yes I am....

Barrie said...

About the porcupines? How weird. Love all the details you've provided.

Barbara Martin said...

Pam, for mountains with crisp air and snow, you could pop over to New Zealand.

The little porcupine isn't so little at 33 inches long, weighing up to 40 pounds. Their quills are about 3 inches long, and when stuck in flesh the barbs help push it in deeper. It might be of benefit to hikers if they brought little bags of salt to dump out on the ground away from their tents to prevent gnawing.

Bernard, yes, I forgot to mention mice, snakes and other assorted nasty noctural critters and insects.

Charles, you could, but Parks Canada has a fairly strict rule about camping only in designated campsites. It conditions the bears to learn they will find no food at campsites. If hikers camp elsewhere, well...the risk is yours. I have seen photos where that little island is barely above the water (must have been taken in early summer).

Gary, it's very cold and snowy there in the winter. Colder than where you live. However, there are people who ski from Sunshine Village to Mt. Assiniboine in the winter.

Barbara Martin said...

Barrie, porcupines usually get their salt requirement from eating yellow lilies.

Tess Kincaid said...

These photos, especially the mountains, are so majestic! I am so terrible with Canadian geography. It's wonderful to hear these unfamiliar names!

Unknown said...

Breathtaking views and you have captured it very well. Love the meadows and the last porcupine image

Barbara Martin said...

Willow, for my future hiking posts I will try to find the aboriginal meaning of the words which many of the places, mountains, valleys and lakes are named with.

Thomas and Shipley, I try to find the best example of the area which describes it almost perfectly. This provides a sense of satisfaction to my readers; at least I hope they do.