Talapus Lake, 09/24/2011

I remember:

  • parking on the side of the road
  • agreeable switchbacks
  • Adelaide sleeping in the backpack

I’ll defer to WTA for the details on this one. Cool?

Talapus Lake

Me and Addie

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Canadian Rockies Grand Tour, September 2009

I’ve wanted to go to the Canadian Rockies since I first laid eyes on them. Via photography. With steady jobs and paid vacation time accruing, we circled a week on the calendar this Spring, set about planning and purchasing, and crossed our fingers.

I monitored the weather anxiously, but in the end, we were blessed with beautiful conditions for the majority of our trip. This won’t be my normal trip report, just basics and photos. We had an amazing time!

Day 1, Saturday, 09/12/09:

~9 hour drive from Seattle to Mt. Robson Provincial Park, via Kamloops (where we stopped to change money and buy groceries). I’d planned on camping that night at either Robson River Campground or Robson Meadows Campground. The river campground was closed for the season, so we set up camp at Robson Meadows after not-quite-visiting the Visitor Centre, which closed at 17:00, just before we arrived. The view of Mt. Robson from the highway was Wow!-inducing. I ran over again to the Visitor Centre to catch the sun set on Mt. Robson’s West Face.

Mt. Robson's summit at sunset.

Mt. Robson's summit at sunset.

Day 2, Sunday, 09/13/09:

Up early–but not that early since the earliest we could get our permits at the Visitor Centre was 08:00. After permits for two for two nights ($20) and watching most of an informational video, we were off.

We had 13 miles to go that day in order to make camp at Berg Lake. By far Nicole’s longest backpack (and rivaling our longest dayhikes) and just as long as my final day out of Lower Ice Lake. Our bags were relatively heavy, but the elevation gain (~2800′) was spread over such a distance that it wasn’t too terrible. Except on our climb from Whitehorn Campground past the waterfalls until Emperor Campground…

Once at Berg Lake, we found a secluded site and relaxed.

Nicole surveying upper Robson River as we approach Berg Lake.

Nicole surveying upper Robson River as we approach Berg Lake.

Day 3, Monday, 09/14/09:

I woke up early to take advantage of the clear skies, taking a dozen too many photos of Mt. Robson in the morning light. Our original plan was to hike to Snowbird Pass (~13 more miles) on this day. We toyed with the idea of doing a different, shorter loop, but decided on going up the trail to Snowbird Pass as far as we felt like it. Which ended up being about 8-9 miles, round trip. We didn’t make the pass, but the views of Robson and the Robson Glacier were outstanding.

Sunrise lights up the top of Mt. Robson, reflected.

Sunrise lights up the top of Mt. Robson, reflected.

Robson Glacier lake, en route to Snowbird Pass.

Robson Glacier lake, en route to Snowbird Pass.

Nicole, at bottom left, overlooks the massive Robson Glacier.

Nicole, at bottom left, overlooks the massive Robson Glacier.

Day 4, Tuesday, 09/15/09:

Not looking especially forward to 13 long miles out, but we made it, relishing every descending kilometer marker along the way. We’d thought about camping again after we made it out, but opted to check into the first hotel we found in Jasper. We did laundry, filled up our cooler with the hotel’s ice, and ate the best burgers ever.

A path of stones leads to Berg Lake.

A path of stones leads to Berg Lake.

Following upper Robson River.

Following upper Robson River.

Nicole, at right, descends into the Valley of a Thousand Falls.

Nicole, at right, descends into the Valley of a Thousand Falls.

Day 5, Wednesday, 09/16/09:

Jasper to Lake Louise, via the Icefields Parkway, with photo stops. By far the most beautiful stretch of road I’ve driven.  We’d planned to hike Wilcox Pass, but it was closed due to blasting that also had us sitting still on the highway for an hour or more. Instead we hiked Parker Ridge, just south of the overflowing-with-Japanese-tourists Icefield Centre. A nice, easy hike, perhaps 4 miles.  Quite beautiful.  After the hike, we drove down to Lake Louise where we did some expensive car camping and I borrowed someone’s axe to chop our firewood while the bull elk bugled.

Atop Parker Ridge, looking down at the Saskatchewan Glacier.

Atop Parker Ridge, looking down at the Saskatchewan Glacier.

Dork on cliff.

Dork on cliff.

Waterfowl Lake, on the side of the road.

Waterfowl Lake, on the side of the road.

The beautiful Peyto Lake.

The beautiful Peyto Lake.

Day 6, Thursday, 09/17/09:

Woke up to raindrops on the tent, packed up the car before it turned to full-strength rain. Rest day it was! We drove to Banff and checked in early at our hotel, bummed around Banff. Expensive!

Day 7, Friday, 09/18/09:

Better weather, but after checking the Park Visitor Centre in town and verifying that Sentinel Pass was restricted to groups of 4 or more, and really not wanting to wait for/hike with someone, we decided to head back up to Lake Louise and climb up Fairview Mountain. Larches were in transition, and we reached the summit of 9000′, just below the cloud ceiling. Just over 6 miles round-trip. Then, back to Banff again via Highway 1A. Wildlife sightings in total: 1 bull elk, 3 deer, 1 porcupine, and, finally, a group of bighorn sheep.

Larch, mountains, and clouds.

Larch, mountains, and clouds.

Above Saddleback.

Above Saddleback.

Lake Louise as viewed from the summit of Fairview Mountain.

Lake Louise as viewed from the summit of Fairview Mountain.

Smile!

Smile!

Dork at 9000'.

Dork at 9000'.

Us.

Us.

Day 8, Saturday, 09/19/09:

An even longer drive back to Seattle via Yoho and Highway 1 instead of Highway 5/16. But we returned! We had a great time…

🙂 🙂 🙂

As always, plenty more photos at Flickr.

hikers_50

North Fork Sauk River & PCT to Red Pass, 09/28/08-09/30/08

The final weekend in September beckoned.  The weather looked to be fantastic.  Unfortunately, Nicole and one of her toenails were at odds with one another, so if anything were to be done, it would have to be done solo.  Somehow I decided that a mere dayhike wouldn’t suffice; this meant I’d be going on my very first all-alone backpack: two nights in Glacier Peak Wilderness.  I actually didn’t give it much thought at the time (that is, before I set up camp the first night in near-darkness and questioned every sound I thought I heard).  It just seemed like the natural progression of things, something that I knew I’d do eventually.

As I may have mentioned in the past, Glacier Peak Wilderness (hereafter, GPW) has held near-mythical status in my novice hiker mind.  Maybe it’s because Spring & Manning called it the last wild volcano.  I suppose that has something to do with it: unlike Mt. Baker or Mt. Rainier, you ain’t parking your Subaru on the side of Glacier Peak.  You gotta hike to get anywhere near it, man.  So when, a week or two prior, I saw a post on NWHikers about Sloan Creek Road re-opening, it stuck with me.  Sloan Creek Road (aka Road #49) had been closed for some time (forever, as far as it concerns me, since I wasn’t going anywhere near it before this summer) and it’s one of the nearest access points to GPW.  So it seemed predetermined that this trip would utilize the opportunity.

Old-growth along the Sauk River.

Old-growth along the Sauk River.

I decided I’d hike the North Fork Sauk River Trail (#649) on Sunday and spend the evening at or near Mackinaw Shelter, then get up Monday morning and hike until I reached the Pacific Crest Trail (#2000) and take that to Red Pass.  If I could, I’d investigate White Chuck Glacier or climb Portal Peak, spending the second night in the area.  Tuesday morning I’d hike all the way back out and get home sometime in the afternoon.  Since I was leaving the where-and-when with Nicole, I figured it best to stick as close to the plan as possible, and act conservatively.

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Skyline Divide & Artist Point, 09/14/08-09/15/08

On this weekend, we decided to take it easy on ourselves–and I apologize if that attitude trespasses into the following trip report as well.  The plan was to head up to Mt. Baker on Sunday morning after listening to a bit of the Packers game, set up the tent somewhere, and then head out for an easy afternoon hike.  If we were feeling up to it, we’d do a little something on Monday morning, too.

We had a couple of bundles of firewood in the back of the Explorer and marshmallows and graham crackers in the cupboard.  We got ourselves some gasoline and two chocolate bars and headed north on I-5.  The only campground still open on SR-542 (Mt. Baker Highway) is Douglas Fir Campground, which is close to the trailhead we’d decided upon for our Sunday afternoon hike, Skyline Divide.

Mt. Baker from a knoll on the Skyline Divide trail.

Mt. Baker from a knoll on the Skyline Divide trail.

After checking in with the campground hosts (who said they’d had to turn away over 100 people on Saturday), setting up camp, and wasting a bit of time, we left for the trailhead.  I suppose I should say that–since I’d mentally deemed this hike too easy–I decided to complicate things by hitting the trail late in the afternoon so that we could catch the sunset, take some photographs, and then hike back down afterward, using our headlamps.  This would be our first time hiking in the dark.


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Spider Meadow & Spider Gap, 09/07/08-09/08/08

When the weekend neared and Nicole brought home a recommendation of Spider Meadow, I immediately and enthusiastically agreed, having seen a number of trip reports earlier this summer about that very location.  A Sunday-night backpack it was.

Spider Meadow panorama.

Spider Meadow panorama.

Spider Meadow sits in the Phelps Creek basin some 25 miles north of Lake Wenatchee, within Glacier Peak Wilderness.  We planned on camping at the far end of the meadow, setting up a base camp, and–if energy permitted–exploring the area up to and including Spider Glacier and Spider Gap.  We took our time rolling out of bed on Sunday morning, and pulled out of West Seattle at 06:18.  Driving over to and along US-2 is approaching autopilot status, and before we knew it we were turning north towards Lake Wenatchee.  It’s just a few more miles before the turnoff up Chiwawa River Road, and then a long ~25 miles to the trailhead.  (We timed this portion of the drive on the way out, and it took ~45 minutes.)

On the way in, only a few miles down the road, we saw two backpackers on the side of the road, and picked up our first hitchhikers.  They were completing the Washington portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, which they’d had to abandon earlier due to injury.  We took them up to Trinity and the Buck Creek Pass trailhead, saving them a whole lot of road-walking.  (Though with the popularity of the trails in the area, they probably wouldn’t have had to wait long for another ride.)  After dropping them off, we turned around and drove up to our trailhead, which sits at the end of Road #6211.  It was 09:30 by that time, putting the drive time just over three hours (including a stop for gasoline and the hitchers).

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