The hike to Jaques Lake was supposed to be a solo backpacking trip. In the process I would shakedown loads of new backpacking gear I’ve been slowly assembling.
Weather forecasts had me envisioning a night – sans rainfly – peering endlessly at the stars before peacefully drifting to sleep. Instead, what I got was a ferocious rainstorm … and confirmation that my new tent and rainfly performs like a champ.
Also unexpected, were the trio of moose who came to graze outside my tent in the wee hours of the nights once the rains stopped. While I’d seen them earlier in the day in the lake, I didn’t expect them to so boldly enter camp. Simultaneously terrifying and amazing, I could hear the huge beasts chomping at grass and bushes just outside my tent.
Eventually I resigned myself to the fact that I’d be left alone or eaten. With either scenario being out of my control, I settled comfortably into my sleeping bag, awaking both alive and unscathed.
The area is beautiful; I can’t blame the moose for making this serene location their home.
We arrived to Jasper National Park on Wednesday.
According to #ParksCanada, Jasper is home to arguably the best trail network in the world, consisting of kilometers and kilometers of well-connected and maintained trails.
That is a very bold claim – one I intend to validate thoroughly over the coming days.
Directions to Helen Lake.
From the parking lot, follow the trailhead up the steep, rooted path. Numerous switchbacks are woven into dense trees and thick bush; keep an eye out for bears munching ripe berries.
Anticipate a bit of huffing and puffing during this initial climb. A nice resting point is a rock outcropping overlooking turquoise waters of Bow Lake far below, casually situated at the base of Mt. Thompson.
Pushing on, continue uphill through a clearing of new growth – the result of recent forest fires. Negotiate more switchbacks before a final turn towards Dolomite Peak.
Having arrived to the alpine meadow, now is the time to relax – the trail is mostly flat ahead. With less need to watch your footing, allow yourself to marvel at the neighboring peaks and an abundance of blooming wildflowers as far as one can see.
Be sure to keep trekking poles handy, they will prove useful as you traverse a few final water crossings. And, because you’ll be well above the tree-line, expect the winds to pick-up and temperatures to drop.
Helen Lake lie hidden ahead.
Sometimes a twenty-five minute lunch view is well worth the technical, three hour walk to the top.
Glacier National Park Canada continues to deliver.
The Monday morning alarm is not so bad when an alpine brunch is the day’s objective.
As much as I enjoyed yesterday’s downhill park ride, I can’t shake the sense that I cheated.
Let’s be honest – while loads of fun – the ride consisted of a relaxing, scenic gondola ride to the top, followed by a downhill. And repeat.
No painful uphill. No slow grind, cursing all the way to the top.
So today I had to make things right. I rode uphill. A lot of of uphill.
Up the road out out of town, before jumping into a mix of exposed forest roads and single-track.
The trees finally offered shade relief, but the barrage of never-ending technical switchbacks nearly had me waiving the white flag in surrender.
It sucked beautifully.
And the descent was all the better knowing I earned it one pedal stroke at a time.