2013 Trips Reviewed

Around this time in 2012 I had created a to-do list of trips to complete during 2013.  Let’s review what happened and what didn’t happen throughout the year.

  • Cycling
    • A week-long bicycle tour somewhere in Quebec and/or New England with my father.  This didn’t happen due to logistical issues; we went hiking in the Rockies instead.
    • One or two bikepacking trips in Kananaskis, Alberta.  These will probably be 1 to 2 night trips.  Nope, we made a few trips to the area but spent the time hiking instead of cycling.
    • Lots of rural dirt road cycling through Alberta’s range and township roads around the Edmonton Area.  Yes!  I did many hundreds of km’s of ‘Range Road cycling’.
    • Some mounting biking in Utah around St. George in the spring.  Did this and it was awesome.
  • Hiking
    • At least one backpacking trip in the Canadian Rockies. These are a few on my list.  Ended up in the Tonqlin Valley.  Great trip.
      • Skyline trail in Jasper
      • Nigel Pass in Jasper
      • Egypt Lake in Banff
      • Iceline in Yoho
    • Some day hikes.  Mostly I’ll just pick and choose as I go, but I do want to do Wilcox Pass in Jasper.  I did not make it to Wilcox but did do many, many others.
    • Several day Hikes in south-west Utah.  I’ve never been in the desert or canyons so this will be a new experience for me.  Yup, here, here, and here.  I also did a few others that didn’t make it into the blog.
  • Canoeing  Nope, no canoeing this year.
    • Probably not a lot this year since I don’t own a Canoe and would like to concentrate on Cycling.  I do have some more long-term trips that I would like to complete like the Bowron circuit in Bowron Provincial Park and  a few nights out at Murtle Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park.

So what else did I manage to accomplish in 2013?

Enhancing my fitness level was a huge focus this year.  I took up running and managed to complete about 1000km’s of training throughout the year.  In December I ran the Seattle Half Marathon in ~1:46.  In addition to the running, I also managed to get out on my bike for about 2250km of cycling.  Some of that was commuting, much of it was just exploring back roads or small overnight bicycle tours which were not blogged.

The other noteworthy item was that I managed to do some scrambling in the mountains.  This really took my hiking to another level and challenged my fitness.  Four peaks were conquered, but only Turtle Mountain and Cirque Peak made it into the blog.  Heart Mountain and Mount Baldy are the other two.

Overall it was a very productive year, which I can only hope to match or exceed in 2014.  In the coming weeks I’ll likely end up creating another to-to for next year which may involve a bit of racing…  Lots of ideas need to be put on ‘paper’.



Lake O’Hara

During the second week in September, I was lucky enough to stay a night at the Lake O’Hara campground in Yoho National Park.  It is one of the more popular area’s (maybe the most popular) in the Canadian Rockies, and for good reason.  Each and every hike in the area is spectacular.

Due to the popularity of the area, access is restricted.  As such, you have a few options to get there.

  1. Book a campsite at the Lake O’Hara campground.  You will need to do this exactly three months ahead of when you wish to arrive.  You should call and reserve within a few minutes of the reservation line opening for the day.  You’ll be shuttled into the campground via a park operated bus.
  2. Book a shuttle ride in on the shuttle bus.  As with camping, you will want to be very quick to reserve this.
  3. You can walk in and take the bus out.  The walk in is around 11km up a dirt road.  There is a fee to ride the bus out.  I believe the fee is $10.
  4. Reserve a spot at the Lake O’Hara lodge.  This is too expensive for me, so I don’t know much about it.
  5. Stay at the Alpine Club of Canada hut.

Be sure to read through the parks guide on the area for complete details.

It’s an amazing area which you certainly will not regret visiting.  The only downside I can see is that it’s a busy area which you can expect to share with a lot of people.  A solitary wilderness experience, this is not.

Here are some pictures to give you an idea of the sights.

Siyeh Pass – Glacier Park Hike

I’ll start by saying this hike is certainly on my top 10 of all time list presently.

The views are nothing short of spectacular for 70% of the hike duration.  I’ll summarize anything else worth noting in point form since I’m sure there is plenty of detail elsewhere on the internet.

– We started off Sunrift Gorge at and ended at Jackson Glacier Overlook, taking the shuttle pack to Sunrift. This, as it turns out, is the hard way with 1241m (4071ft) of altitude gain.

– We exited the through hike at Jackson Glacier Overlook however I would really recommend not taking this entrance as it is very forested and used very little.  The best way to do this hike would be to start at Siyeh Bend and exit at Sunrift Gorge in my opinion.

– Siyeh Pass was seriously windy when we were there. I was trying to talk to a ranger who was asking about trail conditions and we could barely have a basic conversation due to wind noise.

– The trail was still snow bound in a few places when we passed through, particularly approaching Siyeh Pass via the south side. We needed to bypass the trail in this area since there was too much snow and the trail was not visible. Our GPS route reflects this fact as we approached the pass. An ice axe might be handy as well as basic route finding skills.  Hiking this in August would be the best time.

Here are a few photos and the GPS track.  I didn’t set my altimeter from a known point so elevation on the GPS track are not likely to be correct.

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Helen Lake and Cirque Peak

Several weeks ago I headed to Lake Louise for a weekend of hiking. My favorite hike of the weekend was to Helen Lake and onto Cirque Peak near Saskatchewan River Crossing.

The hike into Helen Lake is packed with great scenery once you get past the initial, relatively short, climb through the forest. Closer to the lake you are likely to see a Marmot or two.  The horse flies are very thick around the shore. We saw fish jumping in an almost continuous fashion munching away on the flies.

Helen Lake Trail

The trail leading up to Lake Helen
The trail leading up to Lake Helen

Once at the lake you have the option to do an easy scramble up Cirque Peak. Although the slog up is not the most exciting – largely large rock with some scree – the view from the top more than makes up for it. Visible from the peak is Bow Lake/Falls/Glacier, as well as the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge.

Bow Lake, Bow Glacier, and Portal Peak in the distance.
Bow Lake, Bow Glacier, and Portal Peak in the distance.

Looking out to Bow Lake and Portal Peak

Lake Helen is straight ahead, a few hundred meters lower.
Lake Helen is straight ahead, a few hundred meters lower.

View from Cirque Peak

Families might enjoy hiking to the lake together, with the more energetic members continuing on up to Cirque Peak, while the rest enjoy hanging out at the lake.  The experience could be less pleasant if the bugs are bad at the lake.

Picture quality is not up to usual standards as we forgot our camera and ended up using the cell phones camera for the photos.

View from Cirque Peak







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Please note that my altimeter was not calibrated based on a known elevation and as such the max and min altitude could not be accurate. The change is altitude should be reasonably accurate.

Turtle Mountain

Turtle Mountain is located in the Crowsnest Pass region of Southern Alberta, very close to the town of Blairmore.  While visiting family in the town I had the chance to scramble up the mountain.

This scramble is an easy one, involving little real scrambling.  The interesting aspect to this trip is that you are able to reach the source of Frank Slide, whereby a very large chunk of the mountain broke away in 1903, killing 7o+ people in the town of Frank.

Statistic are according to my GPS and might not be correct.

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I won’t go into details on the route since it is covered extensively on several other sites and in the following book which I used as a guide.  During my trip I only went to the first summit since the second had very little visibility at the time.


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Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument – Day 2

On the second day of our Utah vacation it was a Saturday and we knew the national parks would be busy so we opted to visit  the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument area.  There are several nice hikes in the area, but our guide-book pointed to two that were close by and not likely to have any crowds.  Getting to these trails was a bit sketchy in our two-wheel drive rental car.  The road has some steep sandy areas but the Ford Edge made it through with not too much struggling.

The first was the Lick Wash trail, a nice narrow canyon.  It’s an easy hike suitable for families.  This sounded fine for us as we hiked about 30km the previous day.


 Next we were going to head to Willis Creek for another easy day hike, however the sky was threatening to rain, and as we understood it (and various signs indicated), the roads were impassable when they got wet.  Not wanting to test this notion, we headed back to paved roads and did a bit more exploring in the area before calling it a day.

Utah Barn

Zion National Park – First Day

I had the great pleasure of visiting Zion National Park a couple of weeks ago.  What an amazing place.

I really enjoyed the bus system that they have deployed at the park.  To access most of the trail heads you simple get on a free bus (you still need to pay park entrance fees) that goes up main road.  Cars are not allowed on the road without a special permit.  Not having to deal with traffic congestion greatly enhanced my experience at the park.  I would love to see this done at some of the other busy parks.

While there, I managed to get some hikes in.  The first one was a hike up the famous Angles Landing.  It’s the parks most popular hike, and while it can be crowded, it is still worth while.  This hike takes  you up a narrow ridge to an amazing view-point.  Be forewarned that it does have a lot of exposure and is not for those scared of heights.  Most of the more exposed parts have a thick chain installed to assist with your balance, reducing the risk of a fall.  There have been fatalities in the past on this hike, so do take it seriously.

Lots of switch backs on the way up.  This is not the exposed area.
Lots of switch backs on the way up. This is not the exposed area.
This is the view from the top.
This is the view from the top.
This is a picture of the angles landing hike from the west rim.  Yes, you do indeed hike up that narrow ridge.
This is a picture of the angles landing hike from the west rim. Yes, you do indeed hike up that narrow ridge.

After completing Angles Landing, we continued up the West Rim trail.  This provided some nice views and a good amount of elevation gain.

Heading up the West Rim trail
Heading up the West Rim trail
Here is one view from the West Rim
Here is one view from the West Rim

After we got a nice view from up on the west rim, we headed back down the west rim trail, past the start of Angles Landing and down to the bus stop.

Headed down from the West Rim and Angles Landing
Headed down from the West Rim and Angles Landing

We ended up going back to Zion a few days later to hike Observation Point.  More on that later.