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 Alberta
 Helen Lake & Cirque Peak - August 16, 2008
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dav1481
Intermediate Member



930 Posts

 Posted - 08/18/2008 :  7:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply to this posting
What a weekend to hit the Icefields Parkway! We met my parents at a campground on Highway 11 before leaving Saturday morning for the Helen Lake trailhead. My parents, though active, are not used to hiking, and my dad is waiting for surgery on his meniscus. From what I'd read, the trail to Helen Lake was not overly taxing.

A quick shot from the shores of Bow Lake:



It turned out to be a pleasant, short hike up to the lake. It started in open forest on well-worn trail. Early on, a few streams were crossed. Steady, moderate elevation gains took us through an old burn and then onto the shoulder of the mountain. Through the trees, we could peek back towards Bow Lake.



Once around the shoulder of the mountain, views up the valley towards Cirque Peak opened up. Wildflower season was in full bloom, and the color spectrum was amazing. The only negative was the braiding of the trail. Stay on the path, people!! At one point a stream cuts through the meadow, making a wonderful place to stop. Helen Lake itself sits below a ridge with Cirque Peak as a backdrop. We stopped for a quick snack and I headed towards Cirque, hoping to reach the summit and be back down in about an hour and a half, before the other three got too bored by the lake.







The climb starts past a tarn above the ridge. A short climb up the soft slope leads over a snowy ridge onto the south face of the mountain. From here, it is straight up, easy going. Even the final pull to the summit is simple, with a bit of loose scree before scrambling the final few meters. But what a view greets you after less than an hour from Helen Lake!









I started back, getting halfway down the mountain when I met my mom coming up with another group. It seemed she had changed her mind about climbing the mountain. She was determined to reach the top, so I turned around and went up again. She was quite proud of her accomplishment, and rightfully so!



In all, both an accessible and spectacular dayhike. The meadows themselves are worth seeing in the height of flower season, so don't let the crowds deter you.

Speaking of crowds, since we were in the area, we decided to visit some touristy lakes that we'd never seen because they are, well, touristy. I had a particularly tough time getting a good shot at Peyto Lake. Getting to the edge of the viewpoint was only half the challenge; people didn't seem to realize that a viewpoint is there for a reason, so a bunch were climbing down onto the rocks. I had a heck of a time trying to keep one girl's "sexy poses" out of my frame. Then the volume of cars at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake blew my mind. But on this warm sunny day we had a fun time nonetheless.

1) 2)

3) 4)

5) 6)

7)

1) Waterfowl Lake
2) Peyto Lake
3) Hector Lake
4) Herbert Lake
5) Lake Louise
6) Fairmont Lookout
7) Moraine Lake
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Spunky
Advanced Member

bandana wearin', pole huckin', view lovin', dog herdin', 4x4 navigatin', lake huntin', butt-slidin' bridge crosser, who enjoys postholing with an overnighter pack

Mission, BC
Canada

4782 Posts

 Posted - 08/18/2008 :  7:58 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Awesome ! What a perfect hike to take your parents on

spicytuna
Senior Member


Canmore, AB
Canada

1250 Posts

 Posted - 08/18/2008 :  8:16 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I was up on Cirque 3 weeks ago and it was completely snow free at the time... although our views were limited due to a thunderstorm which rolled in.

Good work on part of your mom! I can't imagine my mother even hiking to Helen lake let alone doing a scramble.

oldman
Junior Member


Maple Ridge, BC
Canada

156 Posts

 Posted - 08/18/2008 :  8:40 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
great pics

haven't been in there yet now I want to go

KARVITK
Advanced Member

Happy go lucky, plaid wearin, postholin, safeway gaitor sportin, old-school film shootin, giver of many regards

Abbotsford, B.C.
Canada

14467 Posts

 Posted - 08/18/2008 :  9:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Stunning and spectacular photos and report. That is god's country.

K

terria
Junior Member


Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada

176 Posts

 Posted - 08/19/2008 :  1:36 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
i did Helen Lake/Cirque Peak with my girlfriend and my buddy the previous day ( August 15 ) and we had similar weather, albeit a bit warmer ( recorded temperature was 32 at Lake Louise that day ) but i suppose it isn't overly hot when you're at 3000m in the heat of the day

we reached the trailhead at about 11am, summitted at about 230/3pm, awesome day to do it

if you look closely at one of your photos ( the snow along the ridge ) you can even see where we butt-skied over the snow to get down below it. haha

nice one ah?

oh yeah, did you see any bears? there was tons of bear activity on that trail in the days and weeks prior to our hike, we didn't see any but many people in those couple of days apparently saw a couple of grizzlies

DCIPHER
Senior Member



1080 Posts

 Posted - 08/19/2008 :  1:41 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Great choice! The best scramble I ever did for scenery value/per wheeze. I went with a buddy on a fall day a couple years ago. We had great, though cool, weather just like you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uVkY-hdy_w


Edited by - DCIPHER on 08/19/2008 2:03 PM

terria
Junior Member


Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada

176 Posts

 Posted - 08/19/2008 :  1:44 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
yeah, the only one i've done that is in my opinion better for scenery is Mt. Wilcox further up the Parkway

huge views of the Columbia Icefields, it was amazing

but Cirque is very comparable. you have a good view of two icefields ( Wapta and Waputik )

the only place I think is better to get a view of those is from the The Vice President ( Yoho National Park ) and quite possibly The President but i've not attempted that

dav1481
Intermediate Member



930 Posts

 Posted - 08/19/2008 :  3:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It's amazing how much reward there is for such little time and effort, or as DCIPHER says, value/wheeze ratio

terria, I noticed those cheek-tracks at the time; looks like a lot of fun! We didn't see any recent signs of bears either (thankfully so, as I'm a little gun-shy right now from a recent grizzly bluff-charge experience).

vic
Junior Member



372 Posts

 Posted - 08/19/2008 :  3:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
One of our favorite hikes too....we do it almost everytime we take our hiking club to the Rockies....we will be going back there next summer and will do Helen Lake and Wilcox Pass again..

terria
Junior Member


Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada

176 Posts

 Posted - 08/19/2008 :  5:42 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
yeah, those were good times

we figured it'd make for the easiest descent over that bit, the snow was just about weak enough to collapse under your feet on our ascent ( we went up a staircase kinda thing ) so it probably wouldn't have been any better an hour or two later

better to slide intentionally than slip unexpectedly!


mapitfirst
Junior Member


Calgary, Alberta
Canada

264 Posts

 Posted - 08/20/2008 :  07:37 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hush! Stop all this chatter about Dolomite Pass! It's my favorite place and it's getting too busy!

Nice job Davin! Your photos really show off the place well.

dav1481
Intermediate Member



930 Posts

 Posted - 08/20/2008 :  07:55 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mapitfirst

Hush! Stop all this chatter about Dolomite Pass! It's my favorite place and it's getting too busy!



You're right, Tom; after reconsidering this hike, I realized it totally sucked. Please don't waste your time on this place.

spicytuna
Senior Member


Canmore, AB
Canada

1250 Posts

 Posted - 08/20/2008 :  08:12 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dav1481


You're right, Tom; after reconsidering this hike, I realized it totally sucked. Please don't waste your time on this place.



And the photos were all created using CGI!

mapitfirst
Junior Member


Calgary, Alberta
Canada

264 Posts

 Posted - 08/20/2008 :  09:46 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
That's better. That place totally sucks.. no sense in going there.... ever. You're much better off sitting at home and watching Hollywood Squares.

wbylsma
Junior Member


Okotoks, Alberta
Canada

326 Posts

 Posted - 08/20/2008 :  10:58 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I like those nasty trips with tons of suffering so it's on my list now for September. Especially when I have the opportunity to take some great pictures like dav1481.

mapitfirst
Junior Member


Calgary, Alberta
Canada

264 Posts

 Posted - 08/20/2008 :  12:07 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Crap! It's not working. Reverse psychology:

It's a 'nice' place, easy access, ok scenery... kind of vanilla ice-cream-ish.

wbylsma
Junior Member


Okotoks, Alberta
Canada

326 Posts

 Posted - 08/20/2008 :  2:04 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Perfect, I have a friend coming out from Holland in September and wanted to take him out on a hike like that. Keep information like this coming Tom!
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Sodbuster
Senior Member


High River, (just south of Calgary eh!), Alberta
Canada

1805 Posts

 Posted - 08/20/2008 :  5:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Awsome collection of photos! And touring people around is great excuse to go to the more 'touristy' spots.

calixtomoon
Senior Member


Langley, BC
Canada

1752 Posts

 Posted - 08/20/2008 :  8:02 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
GORGEOUS!
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