Backpacking, Canada, Hiking, Top Trips, Travel

Rocky Mountain High, Eh?

My workout of choice for Get Off Your Ass today was Level 1 of Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD. Since there’s nothing very interesting I can say about this (except that I can barely lift my arms right now), I’ll post an overdue trip report instead. Yay!

Since I am the only one of her friends without a job, a life, or an ounce of sense, Karen talked me into (ok, it wasn’t that hard) joining her on a last-minute road trip and hiking excursion to the Canadian Rockies.

We started with a backpacking trip to Lake of the Swarming Mosquitoes. Sorry, Lake of the Hanging Glacier. This must be one of the prettiest lakes in the universe, but OHMYGOD, the evil, bloodsucking mozzies just wouldn’t leave me alone. Graahk! We bushwhacked/scrambled up to a ledge about 1000 feet above the lake in hopes of escaping the little bastards, but no such luck.

Fake smile Lake of the Hanging Glacier
The Beatles in concert Mosquito aftermath

We stayed there one night and then went back to civilization, also known as Radium Hot Springs. Mmmm. Karen thought they wouldn’t let me in since the mosquito bites made me look like a leper, but they took pity on me and I was allowed to soak my bumpy body for an hour or so before we drove north into the Rockies. Even the views from the car were amazing.

Maybe we should have pulled over Blurry but handsome moose

After spending a night in the Waterfowl Lake campground, we hit some of the touristy spots. My favorites were Parker Ridge in Banff National Park…

The Map n' Point Karen on Parker Ridge

…and the Edith Cavell trail in Jasper National Park.

Now THAT'S a real smile Angel Glacier

After spending another night by Waterfowl Lake, I woke up the next day not feeling quite right…and then ended up spending the whole day running between my tent and the campground bathrooms. Do yourself a favor and stay away from the food at the Icefields Parkway Visitor Centre, even the little veggie burger that you think can’t possibly do any harm. *mumble grumble*

After a day of “rest” in the Lake Louise campground (complete with grizzly-proof electric fences!), I was ready-ish to hike again, so we donned our helmets and ice axes and set out for Caldron Peak.

The trail starts at the Peyto Lake viewpoint, so obviously the views are redonkulus right from the beginning. We dropped down to the lake shore, followed the river up to a primitive log bridge, hiked up the moraine, then made our way to the steep scree traverse towards Caldron Lake (you can see it in the photo below, to the left above the waterfall).

Peyto Lake Route
She trusted that rusty cable way too much Crossing the river

Karen coaxed me partway across the slope, but then I just froze and had to sit down. I hate this kind of terrain; there was no trail due to frequent rock slides (that’s always comforting), so you had to make you own steps on the hard dirt covered with rolling scree. When I looked down and realized that a slip would equal certain doooom, I had to call it quits.

My turnaround spot Ugh

While Karen sped ahead to attempt Caldron Peak, I moseyed around on the plateau, exploring the Peyto Glacier hut, making good use of their facilities (blast that veggie burger!) and trying not to beat myself up for wimping out on our climb. As thunder and hail started rolling in, I found a spot below the moraine where I could wait for Karen. After a while I realized I was sitting right next to three steaming piles of bear poo, and was mildly perturbed when I discovered that I had left my bear spray in the car.

Mmm, Peyto Peyto Glacier

Luckily Karen wasn’t hit by lightning and I wasn’t mauled by a bear, so, reunited at last, all we had to do was hike the 1300 feet of counter-elevation to get back to the car. Hnngh.

After a well-deserved meal in Banff, a good night’s sleep at the Two Jack campground and a heavenly soak in Banff Hot Springs, we jumped in Karen’s truck and drove home (stopping for Timbits and Hickory Sticks along the way).

Big thanks to Karen for a Moste Excellente Adventure, I’m already looking forward to my next trip to the Rockies…this time it’s going to be a fall trip when the larches have turned and all the %&$@ing mosquitoes are DEAD.

Karen’s trip report on

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  • Reply Libby September 7, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Sounds like a great girls getaway but my gosh, those bites – not to mention the effects of the veggie burger. Glad you still managed to have a good time.


  • Reply Josie September 7, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    It sounds like I’m both glad I couldn’t make it and wishing I could have been there. Please tell me that isn’t a giant drop off in the UGH pic just below that loose scree… I feel faint. Great photos, as always, thanks for paying for them in blood, sweat and trips to the pit toilet. ~Jo

    PS We stayed at Two Jack on our Banff trip too, loved it!

  • Reply Ingunn September 7, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    @Josie, the drop off was only about 1000 feet or so! *barfs at the mere thought of slipping*

    @Libby, 30 minutes after eating that burger, I could tell something wasn’t sitting right.. *barfs at the mere memory of the veggie burger*

  • Reply Karen September 8, 2010 at 6:48 am

    1) Ingunn, you were the one that insisted on the Rockies, not me. ;o)

    2) I see no mention of the rock licking incident??? I mean it cured you as promised no???

    3) Our Two Jack campsite was the WORST campsite ever. We had to drive down an awful desserted dirt road to get there, It was up a steep embankment which my truck could barely make it up, there was barely room for the truck and tents and I was falling downhill all night in my tent (read crooked ground).

    4) Josie, you know you would have loved EVERY minute of it! :o)

  • Reply Ingunn September 8, 2010 at 8:50 am

    I keep forgetting about the rock-licking! It must be the part of my brain that chooses to filter out the bad stuff (unless it’s too big for the filter, like skin welts and violent diarrhea). I forgot how bad that campsite was too, I just remember sleeping well and seeing the pine marten. :D

  • Reply Becky September 8, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Oh. My. Gosh. Those pictures are gorgeous! I came over from your comment on The English Geek’s post and now I’m drooling on my desk over the scenery. But I had to agree with the part where you sat down. Every time I think about my favorite hike (Mount Timpanogos, in Utah) I think of the summit and all the sharp rock and how horrible it would be to fall. So yeah, I think I would have hung out with you. But seriously, that is a really cool hike.

  • Reply Tracy September 8, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Fun trip – sorry about the veggie burger!

    I am also doing Jillian’s 30-Day Shred! I am only on workout 5, I think – I am alternating with her Yoga Meltdown – and not doing anything at all, which I am sure really helps with my shredding…

    Anyway – know what you mean about the arms – and the shoulders – after the workout! :)

  • Reply Cindy P. September 12, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Wow what a wonderful adventure you had. The pics are stunning, so sorry the *#$%* mosquitoes ate you alive. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

  • Reply Luv2talk September 22, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Pics are amazing, as always. Love your comments; I literally LOL when I read your stuff.

    That mosquito pic is worth 1000 words (all of them YIKES!)

  • Reply Andra November 21, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Thank you for stopping by for a visit! Now I can follow you on your adventures. Your photos are gorgeous! Sorry to hear you had a few issues. We had so much rain it made for for perfect mosquito breeding grounds.

    I have not done Caldron Lake and it is for the very reason you only went so far. I had an experience of slipping and falling down a steep slope and every since then, traverses on steep slopes are a nightmare for me, so I avoid them as much as possible.

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