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Tag : fall color

Cautley Traverse, The (Cascade Rock, Gibraltar Rock, Ely’s Dome, Wonder, Towers)

It’s always bittersweet completing a busy trip like this one with all of the experiences still fresh and knowing that I’m closing many chapters of my Rockies adventures simply because I’ve done so many peaks and trips in so many areas of the Alberta Rockies at this stage of my life. People are always encouraging me to go to other ranges like the Purcells or the Columbia mountains but I love the local Rockies and I love all my experiences from Waterton to Jasper. I don’t need to open another massive range of landscapes to enjoy what I do. I love walking familiar valleys, wading through familiar rivers and streams and revisiting old mountain friends with great memories from almost all of them. As I get older I realize that numbers don’t mean anything – nobody cares how many peaks you’ve climbed or how fast you climbed them or even how much fun you had while you did it. The only thing that really matters IMHO is what kind of person you are and whether doing what you do in life makes you a better or worse human to all the other humans. The peace and beauty of the Canadian Rockies has given me countless hours of meditation and reflective opportunities to become the best version of me and that is something I will always cherish and be thankful for.

Nasswald Peak (Citadel Pass)

I’ve been dreaming of scrambling Nasswald Peak for many years now. It felt great to find a beautiful and straightforward route to the south face from the Valley of the Rocks Trail. Despite an easy ramble up the south face the final hundred meters of SE ridge to the summit was very loose and exposed terrain. A perfect fall day for a long sought summit!

Jutland to Sage Mountain Traverse (Matkin, Font)

As we drove slowly back to the hwy Sara and I agreed that this was one of our more relaxing multi-day outings of 2022, actually it was by far the most relaxing one. With the first day only coming in at 9 hours 1650 meters of ascent and the second at less than 8 hours and only just over 1000 meters ascent we didn’t feel too stressed. I’m sure that for me the ultralightweight backpacking system had a lot to do with it – I decided to test it on a 2 night trip immediately after this one. A highly recommended late summer or fall trip for fit parties wanting to experience some of the Castle Wildernesses more remote peaks and valleys.

Smutwood Peak

I loved this hike even more than I thought I would. Sure! It’s overused and over photographed and definitely overshared but that doesn’t change the fact that I had a wonderful time with my daughter enjoying some of the best views of my year from this lowly objective. And that’s what it all comes down to in the end isn’t it? Sharing nature and fresh air while exercising with loved ones and being amazed over and over with stunning views of wild landscapes in all directions. The fact that thousands of others have shared this experience shouldn’t lessen it but should encourage us to seek out new experiences rather than going back to the same ones over and over. I won’t be back to Smutwood in the fall any time soon but I sure am thankful for this particular trip.

Haiduk Peak (+ North Hawk Ridge)

As you can probably tell from the amount of photos and superlatives in this report, I great enjoyed the convoluted ramble from hwy 93, up Hawk Creek and over to Haiduk Peak. This route might not seem very straightforward – and it’s not – but considering that it avoids almost all bushwhacking and allows you to enjoy the only remaining larch forests in Verdant Creek it is 100% worth the hassle. And can you really call it a hassle when your day involves a good trail, fresh water and air, bursting fall colors, blue skies, swirling clouds, fresh snow and distant views of hidden giants? I call that a win every day of the week and especially on a Tuesday.

Odlum, Mount (+ Loomis)

I loved this traverse. The only thing that would have made it slightly better would have been clearer skies and a drier route. The mix of challenging terrain and conditions, great views over low-lying clouds and wild landscape scenery in every direction is what I look for in a scramble and on that front this day delivered in spades. A highly recommended trip for fit parties with enough scrambling experience to tackle some stiff moderate sections of very loose Rockies treasure.

Marvel Peak (+ “Little Marvel”)

My 2020 season was one of my favorite to date and even a messed up ankle can’t take away the many peaks, many beautiful landscapes, great memories with great friends and all of the many wonderful experiences I was lucky enough to enjoy. Marvel Peak was certainly a highlight among many!

Natalko Peak

An unbelievable smorgasbord of bubbling brooks, golden larches, high passes, rushing streams, waterfalls, glistening alpine lakes, hidden routes, ancient glaciers, tarns and ridges to one of the highest peaks above Egypt Lakes.

Bishop, Mount (Horned, Ridge)

As I crossed the Highwood River and hiked back up to the truck I was once again struck by how lucky I am. Despite all the other commitments in my life, I still have plenty of time and opportunity to enjoy beautiful days alone in the hills with nothing but tiny shrews, forests of larches, cheerful rivers, winding trails, solemn mountains and my own thoughts to keep me company.

Glendowan, Mount

I really enjoyed Mount Glendowan – even with the smokey conditions we had. It really is one of the best Waterton scrambles that I’ve done and I’ve done most of them. The fact that the winds were fairly light helped, but the scrambling on ascent combined with the easy scree on descent was icing on the cake.

Dungarvon, Mount

I highly recommend this scramble for anyone wanting to dip their toes into a “Nugara Difficult” and looking for a colorful hike in Waterton Lakes National Park.

Skoki Lakes (Packers Pass Peak)

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.

Sunshine Meadows (Rock Isle Lake)

Trip Date: Monday, September 23 2019 Round Trip Time (hr): 4.5 Total Elevation Gain (m): 750 Total Trip Distance (km): 19 Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1 – you fall, you tripped over your own feet Difficulty Notes: No difficulties other than following the myriad of signage along the trail and slogging up and down the Sunshine road. Technical Rating: TL1; YDS (Hiking) Map: Google Maps After a long solo trip up Scarab Peak the day before, I wasn’t too keen […]

Scarab Peak

An unbelievable smorgasbord of bubbling brooks, golden larches, high passes, rushing streams, waterfalls, glistening alpine lakes, hidden routes, ancient glaciers, tarns and ridges to one of the highest peaks above Egypt Lakes.

Lillian, Mount

A quick, fun, moderate scramble up Mount Lillian over Buller Pass in Kananaskis Country during larch season, somewhat tempered by a cloudy, grey sky which cleared while we exited the mountain.

Pipestone Mountain + Tower

After approaching and ascending Cyclone Mountain the day before, Phil and I woke up to a frosty but clear morning on Friday, September 29 2017. After Phil took a few hours to collect soil samples from Douglas Creek, we packed up our camp and headed back along the trail towards the core Red Deer Lakes area in the Skoki backcountry of Banff National Park. Our destinations for this glorious fall day were Pipestone Mountain and Merlin Lake. These two things are not very close together, in case you were wondering.

Cyclone Mountain

Over the years, Dr. Phil and I had been eyeing up a couple of easy ascents, rising over the Red Deer Lakes in the Skoki backcountry of Banff National Park and on the western edge of the Drummond Icefield. When we finally scrambled up Mount Drummond in late September, 2015, our interest in Cyclone Mountain and Pipestone Mountain increased. In late September 2017, it was finally time to go check them out a bit closer. Rick Collier details a trip that he and Mardy Roberts did back in June of ’92 where they traversed from Pipestone to Cyclone Mountain as a day trip.

Odlum Ridge

On Wednesday, September 27 2017 I was joined by Trevor Boyce for an easy hike and traverse of Odlum Ridge, deep in Kananaskis Country just east of the Continental Divide and south of Highwood Pass. Our plan was to take advantage of the great weather with views of larches and aesthetic mountains in the background. We were not disappointed! Why such a tame objective? First of all, this was our first time out together. Trevor is the person responsible for getting Cornelius Rott into scrambling. After recently scrambling Lougheed I with Cornelius, I was keen to meet the guy who’d gotten him so interested in our favorite pastime.

Howard Douglas, Mount

As I started my annual week off in late September 2017, I didn’t know what I was in the mood for. The weather wasn’t fabulous, but it wasn’t horrible either. Being solo, I didn’t really feel like a huge day – not to mention Phil Richards and I had some pretty big plans for later in the week and I didn’t want to ruin those with too big a day already on Monday. Of course, being September, I wanted larches to be part of the landscape. I’ve often looked at Mount Howard Douglas, either while skiing at the world class Sunshine Village resort, or from various trips nearby such as The Monarch, Ramparts, Healy Pass or Twin Cairns.

Consummation Peak

After a long outing the week before to the Egypt Lakes area and a somewhat gloomy weather forecast, I decided to play it safe on Saturday, September 23 2017 with a nice fall hike on the western edge of the Lake O’Hara region in Yoho National Park. Wietse decided to join me on this venture. I found Consummation Peak while perusing the ViewRanger Landscape maps in areas that I knew had larches. There was only one trip report online for this minor summit and it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for – something fairly low (not in the clouds) and easy (there was fresh snow).

Sugarloaf Mountain (The Sphinx)

After completing the long approach trek up Healy Pass and then Whistling Pass and the subsequent ascent of Lesser Pharaoh Peak (don’t forget about “Tiny” Pharaoh), Phil and I grunted our way back up Whistling Pass and set our now-tiring bodies towards Scarab Lake and the diminutive and unofficial Sugarloaf Mountain. I haven’t been able to find out where “Sugarloaf” comes from, but it’s on enough references to be official enough for me to bag and claim it. We noticed quite a few people on the main Pharaoh Peak above us as we passed under it on our way back to the Scarab Lake turnoff.

Pharaoh Peak, Lesser

With larch season comes great responsibility for the Rockies hikers, scramblers and photographers. The responsibility comes from having two weekends (at most) to take advantage of the very limited and short-lived phenomenon of what’s commonly called, Larch Season. This season is sacred with those of us lucky enough to have felt its magic touch.

Walter Feuz Peak (Little Odaray)

I wasn’t sure if I had the energy or weather to do another scramble on Wednesday, September 21 but I had the day off and decided I might as well make the most of it. The week previous I’d summitted Park Mountain near MacArthur Lake in Lake O’Hara and noted the larches were especially stunning this year. After a bout of snowy and cool weather, I wondered how the area would look, only a few days later and decided to hike the 11km approach road by myself and check out the conditions. If it was reasonable I would try to scramble up Little Odaray, also known as Walter Feuz Peak.

Pharaoh Peak, Greater

As I watched the giant snow flakes fall gently and silently all around me and settle onto the yellow and red fall foliage before slowly starting to melt, I was struck by a thought that has hit me square between the eyes more than once while solo trekking on various trails and routes through the backcountry of my beloved Canadian Rockies. The beauty that I’d experienced on this long and tiring day – and many long and tiring days before it – was not there for my benefit. It was simply there. Natural beauty is something that drives many of us out of the concrete jungles where we make a living, out to a more peaceful and reflective existence on the trail – where we are smaller somehow, and more connected with our ancient, wandering roots. While we feel almost a spiritual connection to the land, we often make the mistake of thinking that all the natural beauty that we find beyond our temporary fake and material world, is somehow there for us. Because of us – like it owes us it’s very existence. But this is not true my friends.

A wild scene involving Mount Douglas and its larch covered lower northern slopes.

Drummond, Mount & Packers Pass Peak

By the end of September 2015 I was getting a wee bit desperate to finally see some fully turned larches. Despite getting out a lot in the middle of the month, especially to Waterton Lakes National Park, I’d yet to run into the full fall golden goodness of larch heaven that I’ve come to crave at the end of each scrambling / hiking season in the Alberta Rockies. As usual for the 2015 season, the weather did not cooperate when I needed it to! The forecast for the weekend of September 25-27 was looking a bit thin. Sunday was the best looking day by far, but as the dates crept closer the forecast grew dimmer until even Sunday was looking like a good shot at cold, cloud and possibly rain or even snow.