Fri, Jul 18 2008, Sat, Jul 19 2008, Sun, Jul 20 2008 - Hike - 2 Nights (Hostel) + 3 Day Hikes Yoho Nat'l Park including Lake O'Hara (View Original Event Details)

Event Coordinator(s): Karen D
Participants:Karen D, Kathleen W, Ed K, Judy T, Rita N, Iveta H

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Write Up:

Lake O’Hara….. So anticipated by our little group for the last 3months….. The area lived up to it’s place as THE Premier Hike in the Canadian Rockies !!!

Four of us meet at the Whiskey Jack Hostel to have our lunch and do a short afternoon hike. Luckily for us, the Hostel keeper, Tom, was there, and with 2 big signs saying DO NOT check-in before 5:00p.m., he greeted us and checked us in. After unloading our cars & ate lunch, we went on a hike suggested by Ed – Laughing Falls. Ed & I have done this one before, but Rita & Kathy had not, and we enjoyed it very much. We did our 10km hike with the rain & thunder constantly threatening, and with each threat we layered & delayered !!!! Back to the hostel; Judy & Iveta arrived, and we all ate supper. Another COC member, Peter, arrived with two of his family members from Germany, and since we had 3 beds empty in our room, they ended up bunking with us !

Since there was construction on the Takakkaw Falls access road, and line-ups were in abundance on Friday, we decided not to take any chances of missing our 8:30a.m. bus. We left at 7:00a.m. for the typical “sans-construction” 30 mins drive to the bus departure area. We sailed right through and got there at 7:30a.m.!!! The bus was full and off we went. At the drop-off point “Le Relais” Day-Use Shelter, we got ready for our hike. We had decided last night to do the hardest hike on the Sat, and an easier one on the Sun. Since having asthma problems the last two weeks, and found yesterday’s hike a challenge, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, either go with my group or hook up with another group for another trail. However, Kathy said to me that at least I should attempt it, and if I couldn’t make it, then she would volunteer to turn around with me and do another hike. With these spoken words, I decided to stay with my group, and boy was I glad I did !!!! Thank you Kathy !!!

We started our 6.2km return hike to Lake Oesa via Wiwaxy Gap at 9:15a.m. The difficult part of this route is from Lake O’Hara to Wiwaxy Gap. It’s 1.5km and with 495 elevation gain. It took us 2 ½ hours to ascend. I took the lead, and we went very very slow, stopping lots to take in the scenery, pictures, and me regaining my lungs !!! Once at Wiwaxy Gap, we took lots of pics, inhaled the scenery and started our way to Lake Oesa with a descent on the Huber Ledges (260m loss). I’ve never hiked ledges like these before, klutzes beware !!! This route to Lake Oesa had everything, from scree to scrambling, “rock climbing”, ridge traversing, and yes regular hiking !!! At 1:00p.m we still were not at the lake, and decided to have lunch on the trail just at the end of the Huber Ledges. In hindsight, it turned out to be the best spot for lunch !!! Ok, now to our destination !!! As we got closer to Lake Oesa, it got more beautiful…. Again we inhaled the scenery. There were not many people around, it was as tranquil as beautiful. We decided to take the Lake Oesa Trail back to the Le Relais Shelter. The rocky steps that adorned parts of this trail were painstakingly built by Lawrence Grassi in the 1950’s. It was different than any other rock trail I’ve been on and I don’t think any other could even compare to this one. On our hike we encountered lots of wildlife (thankfully no bears), sub-alpine flowers, and of course 360° views. And it only took us 6hrs to do 6km !!!!!! But worth every minute, noooo, please let me rephrase….. Worth Every Second :)

Back to the hostel for supper & wine, and bed !!!

Since the construction crews rest on Sunday, we left the hostel at 7:30a.m. for our 8:30am. bus on Sunday. We all had a better sleep the second night at the hostel and everyone couldn’t wait for day 3 of our trip !!!

We decided to hike to Lake McArthur. Today, we are hoping that the kms seem shorter or at least to our average compared to yesterday’s hike !!! It’s 8km circuit with a 310m elevation gain. Ahhhh, back to normal :) We got to the lake in two hours ! There were a few routes to get there, and we took the High Level Circuit – again scree, a little scrambling, ridge traversing, and regular hiking. Just before the lake, we came to a headwall that was easy to navigate. What I like about the headwall is that you are anticipating the Lake, and pictures are going thru your mind of what it will look like. Once we got up there, we could see a corner of what I thought was the mountain at the base, and looking closer, it was actually the side end of the lake where it meets the mountain, and the reflection of the mountain in the lake, made the lake look like the mountain (get it?? – see pic !) We started hiking closer and the lake just opened up and all I can say is WOW, WOW, and WOW. Not only was Lake McArthur & the mountains stunning, but we saw what one of us coined “Magic” (sorry, not sure who). The lake was still, like time & earth had stopped – crystal clear portrait of the mountains etched on top of the lake. We were so lucky because after 5 minutes of picture taking, the wind started slowly and bit by bit, the Magic disappeared. All you could see was water !!!! Very lucky indeed to have witnessed this. We ate lunch and started our way back on the Low Level Circuit. Since this hike progressed at a normal slowpoke pace, we had plenty of time for an add-on. We decided to hike the Odaray Highline with a push to Odaray Grandview Prospect via McArthur’s Pass. From the pass, it was a 5km return with a 315m elevation gain. We started up, and then we got the Odaray Highline – magnificient, magnificient views. At this height and on this side of the valley, the views are just like in the picture books. I would easily compare it to helicopter view. Wiwaxy Peaks and Mount Huber were towering straight across from us with Lake O’Hara’s majestic blue color water reaching out and smiling at us !! Once at the Odaray Highline’s end, we started up to the Odaray Grandview Prospect. We climbed, and climbed, and climbed, and climbed to the point where I could no longer continue. I sat down and once again inhaled an even higher view – we could actually see Lake McArthur to the distance way below us !!! Four of us remained, just about 400-500m away from our original destination (couldn’t do the last push to Everest !!) – however, Ed & Iveta pressed on. They made it !!! Both declared it was well worth it. Ed said you could even see Lake Oesa as well all the other lakes :) Can’t wait to see the pictures. We hurried back to catch the 4:30p.m. bus and made good time, very good time !! 45 mins to spare ! We had refreshments, and 3 off us bought the Central Rockies Wildflowers Handbook ! Five of us stopped in Canmore for supper at Ed's favorite restaurant "Patrinos", and Kathy headed West for a continuing vacation !!!

I want to say Thank You, first of all to my group !!! As I mentioned to them, we’d make a great “tour group”, no sleepy heads here, and I was usually the last one up !!! We all got on so well during our 3day/2night trip, lots of laughter, smiles, and helping hands :)

I would also like to thank Peter and his family, for being so quiet and respectful when they came into the room with 6 sleeping people !!!

I hope that everyone enjoyed this trip as much as I did, and I hope you like the extended write-up which I felt this trip deserved !!!

Highlights: EVERYTHING !!!!

Happy Trails :)
Karen D.