On Friday, June 02 2006, Wietse and I hiked to the summit of Mount Bourgeau in Banff National Park. I have wanted to do this one for a while already and even though it was a bit early in the year I figured with the dry spring we should be ok.
The only reason I've wanted to this one for a while already is because I suspected that it contained beautiful scenery and I wasn't disappointed in that regard! We started out from a mosquito-infested parking lot at around 07:30 under partly sunny skies. The trail is obviously very well traveled and we made quick time till coming to a raging Wolverine creek with no obvious crossing. We went a bit downstream and found a makeshift bridge of branches and logs that we used to keep our feet dry.
[A good bridge lower down on the approach trail.]
[A raging Bourgeau Creek that no longer has a bridge where we want to cross!]
[After the waterfalls the trail steepens considerably and we started encountering snow and mud due to early season conditions.]
After the creek the trail rises quite a bit steeper as it gains the headwall where the waterfalls tumble down. It was here that we started to encounter snow and mud and our travel speed started to decrease a bit. We pushed on as the views continued to improve and the trail continued to dis-improve!
[More of the raging creek.]
After getting briefly lost in the open marsh / meadows just before Bourgeau Lake, due to a flooded trail and large amounts of snow, we found some footprints and followed them up into the forest around Bourgeau Lake. We couldn't follow the lake shore because the water level was too high. Due to avalanche debris and winter blow-down, the trail above the lake to tree line was not in good condition. We ended up losing the trail several times but finally we came out on a scree slope and climbed up to the second lake. The views continued to improve as we got higher.
[Near Bourgeau Lake the trail started deteriorating more - mostly due to winter avalanches and the fact that Parks didn't have a chance to clear the very popular trail yet for the summer season.]
[The second lake, above Bourgeau Lake and getting above tree line. Harvey Pass is ahead and to the left.]
[Harvey Pass, looking up at a large slope leading eventually to the summit which is out of sight here.]
Once we got up to Harvey Pass we could see that we still had a long way to go. We struggled through some patches of waist deep snow but overall the route was clear. After summiting we had to rush down because of very rapidly changing (for the worse) weather. (NOTE: I was still very paranoid about bad weather at this point in my scrambling career. Now I realize that the clouds were harmless and I was freaking out for no reason!)
[Big terrain as we start up the easy slopes to the summit.]
[Looking back over the Healy Meadows towards The Monarch. ++]
[Even an innocent looking snow patch can be problematic in June!]
[A wider view.]
[Looking back over our ascent slopes and towards the Ball Range.]
[Impressive view of Pilot Mountain which I would scramble solo 3 years later in 2009.]
[Dark clouds to the west over the Ball Range which includes Mount Ball and Isabelle Peak.]
[Looking towards Brett and Pilot with Hector in between.]
[Lovely summit view of a man-made structure! :)]
[An impressive panorama to the west. ++]
[Black Brett is on my list.]
[Mount Ball is a big peak!]
[Wietse starts back down.]
[The Monarch at Healy Creek to the left. ++]
[Looking over at Black Brett, which is also ascended from Harvey Pass.]
[It's a long way back down to the approach trail!]
[A close-up of Bourgeau Lake with it's ice breakup.]
[Can't get enough of these views! Black Brett at right. ++]
[Back down at Harvey Pass.]
Of course as soon as we got down to Harvey Pass everything pushed north and the weather was good the rest of the day. Because I was wearing a pedometer for a contest at work, I know that this is a long hike - 40,000 steps to be exact! Recommended as an early (but not too early) season objective when other, tougher mountains aren't in season yet.
[A coffee break near Harvey Pass.]
[A stream runs down from Harvey Pass to one of the small tarns above Bourgeau Lake.]
[Great scenery near Harvey Pass.]
[The section of trail above Bourgeau Lake is really cool hiking.]
[Warm spring hiking is the best!]
[Descending to Bourgeau Lake.]
[A sure sign of spring!]
[The big melt is going on everywhere.]
[Another sure sign of spring - my favorite wild flower - the Lady's Slipper.]