Trip Date: Sunday, October 06, 2019
Round Trip Time (hr): 7
Total Elevation Gain (m): 1230
Total Trip Distance (km): 27
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1/2 – you fall, you tripped over your own feet
Difficulty Notes: No difficulties other than wallowing through some snow drifts around Packers Pass.
Technical Rating: TL2 / OT2; YDS (Hiking)
Map: Google Maps
I knew I was overdoing it when making plans for Sunday October 6th 2019. I tried to recruit a couple of friends and even their reactions told me so. But I’m stubborn when it comes to these things, especially at the end of the year when I know the odds of completing long hiking and scrambling trips are quickly becoming nil. I overdid it already on my last trip up Stenton and Carrot peaks but I hate letting the season die without at least attempting something silly. In this case “silly” found me before I could even really attempt it all! My original plan had me biking 8km up and down the Lake Louise ski-out and hiking around 32km with a total elevation gain of around 2k meters.
The universe conspired mightily against me on this trip including the following major fails;
- No friends could come along so I was ‘stuck’ with another solo trip. Not a huge deal but I felt like I might need someone else to motivate me on this one.
- I slept like crap the night before, waking at 03:00 and not really getting back to sleep afterwards.
- About 500m up the ski-out road on my bike, my seat busted clean off the stem! Thankfully I avoided more serious injury to parts of my anatomy that I’d like to keep functional for a few more years.
- As I locked my bike to a tree alongside the road and prepared mentally to hike almost 40km I realized that I forgot my sandwiches and coffee back in the truck. With only 9 fibre bars and a few cookies in my pack I was at around 1400 calories of food for a 40km, 2k vertical day – not ideal. I didn’t have the energy to go retrieve the food either. My mojo which was already low, now plummeted towards negative numbers.
- The trail above the Lake Louise ski resort to Boulder Pass was snow covered, icy and just blah. When I crested the pass the wind was brutally cold and the snow was whipping around my feet. It felt like January. I hated it. My mojo died a violent and sudden death. I spent 10 minutes convincing myself to at least check out Skoki Lakes. I came within a hair’s breadth of just hiking back down to the parking lot from the pass.
- Yes – there’s yet another fail. On my way down from Packers Pass towards Zigadenus Lake I buried a pole in the soft ground under the snow and snapped it clean in half. I told the universe what I thought of it at this point, but it didn’t care, as usual.
What a crapfest this day was turning into! BUT. Despite all the obvious signs that this was not going to be an epic day, the sun started coming out and the winds started dying down as I hiked along Zigadenus Lake. Larch needles covered the snowy trail and by the time I was looking over Myosotis Lake the landscape was looking pretty magical. I spent the next couple of hours hiking and relaxing around the two lakes. The sun kept getting warmer and my mood gradually lifted out of the grave and back to the land of the living.
After enjoying the lakes I decided it was time to head back to Packers Pass and possibly up the small peak next to it. I met a few people on return but the area remained very quiet as I slowly plodded my way back up through ankle to knee deep snow with one functioning hiking pole.
At the pass I decided to bag the peak since the weather was pretty good and I’d have decent views. The views were pretty good indeed and there were no regrets taking the extra 30 minutes. The hike back down and along Ptarmigan Lake was quick and even turning a bit muddy in the strong sun. The hike back down the road was a bit of a buzzkill but that’s the price of admission for this area.
I was surprised to see my stats at the end of this “half” day – still 7 hours and 27 kilometres with 1230 meters of height gain. On hindsight I could have done my original plan but it just wasn’t going to happen this particular day for me. I feel pretty darn fortunate that even a failed day out could be so full of wonderful landscapes and wild scenery.