Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit WITHOUT booking

Our favourite hiking area in the Canadian Rockies is Lake O’Hara. 

But it’s extremely difficult to get a reservation.

Our friends at travel2walk did the famed circuit the hard way:

  • distance: 14.3 miles (23.0 km)
  • elevation change: 4651 ft. ascent (1418 m) & 3228 ft. descent (984 m)
  • time: 8:23 hours (7:17 moving)

They hiked in 6.9 miles (11 km) on the Lake O’Hara fire road.  Did the Circuit.  And were lucky enough to get seats on the 4:30pm bus out (CAD$9.75 fee per person cash).

Read their August 2019 Trip Report:

Yoho National Park – Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit

 

To learn more check out Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit information page.

Autumn is a good time to make the long day hike, by the way.

Mt Assiniboine: Windy Ridge

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Days 1-2 | 3 | 4-5

I was up early at Magog campground.

This was the first campground cook house I’d seen open since the COVID-19 shutdown.

We had deer and elk hanging out.  I assume they are looking for salt from hiker urine.

Not many do Windy Ridge from Magog as it’s a long day hike.  We loved it.

Alpine meadows.  Quite flat.

Windy Ridge looked pretty easy.  None of us had been there before.

At the top we found a narrow ridge connecting a viewpoint.

We had a view over the other side we’d not seen yet.

Here’s the view back to Assiniboine.

Henry and Sam climbed up on to a sketchy nearby peak.

I messed around on the Cliff edge.

Jack’s knee was bothering him.  He sat back and enjoyed the wild flowers.

Click PLAY or watch a short video of the adventure on YouTube.

NEXT MORNING we flew out to Shark by Helicopter.  Cost about CAD $185 one way.

The chopper only flies 3 days / week. Flying out fit our work schedules better. And hiking uphill is easier on the knees for many. 

Assiniboine Lodge

Here’s our last look at the big mountain.

Great trip!

Days 1-2 | 3 | 4-5

Mt Assiniboine: Chuck’s and Nub Peak

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Days 1-2 | 3 | 4-5

Magog campground in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, B.C. has 40 sites, all good.

Supposedly 100% booked, quite a few were empty. We assumed people had forgotten to cancel.

Though it had rained much of the night, morning was gorgeous.

We set off for Nub Peak as it’s typically the most popular day hike out of Magog.  One you want to do in good weather.

What’s this? An artist working on his NUDE HIKING CALENDAR photos.

We passed Sunburst, Cerulean, and Elizabeth Lakes.

Though I could name mountains and tell you our GPS coordinates, somehow we got lost.

The trail sign said Chuck’s Ridge, so we decided to check it out.

I couldn’t recall having climbed up here on past trips.   Chuck’s Ridge is excellent.

Mosquitoes at Magog were bad, as they have been everywhere in 2020. (They were bad here in 2019, as well.)

Rather than apply skin poison, for protection from the tiny vampires, I wear baggy nylon clothing instead. Even when it’s hot.

On the return from Chuck’s, somebody had the bright idea to scramble up to Nub, rather than backtrack to the correct trailhead.

As you would expect, that didn’t work.

When it got too dangerous, we decided to scree back down the way we came

This about finished my worn out Merrell Moabs.

Click PLAY or watch our scramble on YouTube.

After a lunch break at camp, we set out again for Nub.  The trail sign had been stolen — so many were missing the turn as we had in the morning.

First stop is the Nublet. Next the Niblet.  The classic Assiniboine vista.

I’ve always enjoyed the ridge walk up from there.

Here’s the Nub Peak summit cairn.

Henry noticed an interesting phenomenon of light.

Last ones on the mountain, we lingered.

Up high the wild flowers were still in bloom.

Vistas of Assiniboine are some of my favourites world wide.

Click PLAY or watch a short video of our Nub on YouTube.

We were very late getting back to camp.

Assiniboine alpenglow

Dinner in the dark.

Days 1-2 | 3 | 4-5

Mt. Assiniboine: Shark to Magog

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Days 1-2 | 3 | 4-5

Hiking Shark trailhead to Magog campground

Mountain sheep, not mountain goats. Let’s get that straight.

It was almost 5pm by the time we walked away from Mt. Shark trailhead on the Bryant Creek Trail.

We would have come in from Sunshine — but both the bus and Gondola were closed in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Jack was wearing brand new shoes. Surprisingly, they worked well for him over 5 days.

I was happy to join up with Brian Mason and sons for one of his favourite hikes.

I’d thought the trail to McBride campground (BR 14) was 9.8km flat. It’s closer to 13km with some ups and downs.

The Masons had most everything they needed, but it wasn’t really “packed”. 😀

9:07pm arrival at McBride

Turns out McBride is a lousy camp: no water, few level sites, distant cooking area.

Masons didn’t finish dinner until well after dark.

NIGHT

No fly for me.  I only use it if I must.

Masons were happy with their new 4 person MEC tent, the first time they’d used it.

I wished we’d camped instead at Big Springs 9.6km. But Brian was actually happy we went all the way to McBride as it shortened the climbing day up to Assiniboine.

At the Ranger cabin we turned uphill towards Marvel Lake. (The alternative trail is the easier, but less scenic, Assiniboine Pass.)

The river is the water supply for McBride. While at that camp, I saw two closer potential sources that were NOT running.

I do love alpine meadows.

My free Peakfinder app was useful in identifying mountains. You need to download the data in advance before going offline.

Gorgeous Marvel Lake.

Fantastic.

It’s a steep climb up to Assiniboine on switchbacks, but the views keep you going.

We stopped for lunch at the top.

What a vista !

From there we scrambled up to a higher viewpoint, leaving our big packs below.

Eventually we strolled into Magog campground with fantastic views of the Matterhorn of the Rockies.

We’d walked about 28 km (17.6 miles) from Shark. Plus our side trip.

Click PLAY or watch a short video on our hike on YouTube.

Days 1-2 | 3 | 4-5

highlights of Yosemite National Park

If you don’t have time to do the entire 220+ mile John Muir Trail, consider this shorter alternative.

  • 40 miles
  • 4 days

… Along this loop you pass by the beautiful Tenaya Lake, hike over Clouds Rest, take in several great views of Half Dome, and hike through Little Yosemite Valley and the Lost Valley.

The route has a peak elevation of 9,900 feet (atop Clouds Rest) and you climb roughly 9,000 vertical feet over the course of the ~40 mile trek.

Highlights include epic waterfalls, expansive views of Yosemite Valley and the surrounding granite peaks and domes, alpine lakes, grassy meadows, …

YOSEMITE HIGHLIGHTS LOOP – YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (40 MILE LOOP)

Hiking to Yoho Lake

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Yoho Lake was the site of the original Alpine Club of Canada camp in 1906.

Early alpinists climbed Mt Wapta (south) and Michaels Peak (north).

Mt Wapta

Returning from our Twin Falls hike, we resupplied at the vehicles parked at the Takakkaw Falls trailhead.

Then started with great views over to Takakkaw , the second highest Falls in Canada.

One of our group forgot his sunglasses at the lookout.

ET and I asked some hikers going the other direction to see if they could find them. And it worked! We found them on ET’s vehicle 2 days later.

We climbed steadily up to the lake on a route that many switchbacks.

More wildflowers here than on the Twin Falls side.

You catch a glimpse en route of Hidden Lake.

Here’s a first look at Yoho lake.

Yoho lake is deep emerald green, more so than Emerald lake.

You’d have to be CRAZY to swim.

Warren set up a cook tarp to protect from sun and rain.

It’s a peaceful campground.

Next morning we had one deer hang around the tents.  I assume he was salt deprived, looking for urine.

We took a day hike to look down on to Emerald lake.

There are some impressive waterfalls en route.

Warren and I decided to extend the walk and circumambulate Emerald lake.  (Actually, we had originally planned to return via Burgess Pass trail — but it seemed to be unsigned and closed in 2020.). So we walked around Emerald lake and back the way we came.

The only difficult section was about a half hour of flooded alluvial plain.

Once back in camp we found our group had decided to hike out a day early.  Forecast was for big storm.

Rather than camp at the Takakkaw Falls campground, we instead drove to Banff and enjoyed a dry night at the Hidden Ridge resort.

Another great hiking adventure.  🙂

Hiking to Twin Falls, Yoho National Park

Rock walls and waterfalls.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Though Banff and Jasper are more famous internationally, locals like myself consider Yoho National Park even better for hiking.

Golden is the nearest town.  Calgary the nearest international airport.

We parked at the Takakkaw Falls trailhead.

Takakkaw 254 metres (833 ft) is the 2nd tallest waterfall in Canada.

Friends from the flat lands of Saskatchewan schedule a hiking holiday every year. I tagged along, eventually joining their COVID-19 bubble.

As we set off, weather was deteriorating.

And, as so often the case in the Rockies in summer, we were soon hiding in the trees from a hail storm.

makeshift backpack cover

Warren considers bad weather an interesting challenge. And it was this day.

Last year the group had camped here at Laughing Falls.

We pushed on in the rain.

On arrival at Twin Falls campground, Warren set up a tarp.  This camp is about 6.7 km   from the trailhead. And about 100m elevation gain.

We hung our food as bears are always a concern in the Rockies.

The main sites were quite wet so we placed our tents on dryer ground as much as possible.

Happily, next morning was sunnier.

The BIG downside in 2020 — it’s been a terrible mosquito year.

ready for the Whaleback

Twin Falls is a lovely hiking area.

Here’s a first look at Twin Falls.

Twin Falls Tea House was closed this year due to COVID-19. It was extensively renovated in 2005 and will be again this season.

Rock walls and waterfalls.

We had plenty of switchbacks getting to the top of the Whaleback ridge.

Lunch at the top.

I used my Peakfinder app to confirm the names of surrounding mountains.

The highlight of the hike was Twin Falls. Both top and bottom.

Hikers have died falling from here. One survived 45 minutes in the freezing whirlpool before finally being rescued.

Click PLAY or watch a short video of our adventure on YouTube.

hike La Luz Trail, New Mexico

Marc Witkes posting to Inside Outside Magazine on the best trail out of Albuquerque:

And of the many ways to enjoy the Sandias, my favorite is running or hiking up the La Luz trail and taking the Sandia Peak Tramway down.

… The trail begins at 6,559 feet elevation, skirts a residential area for two miles, climbs 800 feet, turns east and descends to the junction of La Luz trail. A “5 mile” sign marks the beginning of a series of 19 switchbacks, many of which are cut through rocky sections made up of layers of shale and limestone. At the Y near the top of the trail, turn right and proceed to the top terminal and High Finance Restaurant (10,378 feet elevation).

While moving up La Luz Trail, you’ll notice dramatically different weather patterns and topographical features. There are four different climatic zones in the Sandias. The Upper Sonoran Zone lies at approximately 5,000 to 7,000 feet elevation, the Transition Zone at 7,000 to 8,000 feet, the Canadian Zone at 8,000 to 10,000 feet and Hudsonian Zone above 10,000 feet. In layman terms, you’ll start in the desert, travel through a wet area and finish in a spectacular alpine setting. Because of these transitional zones, taking off and putting on your jacket, gloves and hat is a common occurrence.

None of this matters that much as you struggle with a shortness of breath while climbing trail sections with a 12-percent grade, but try to pay attention. Juniper, pinion, Gambel and Gray oak, aspen, Douglas and corkback fir, Englemann spruce and limber pine, all quake along the trail. Wildflowers also rage from May to August.

La Luz trail is open year round with the best time to visit in the spring and fall. In summer, temperatures are hot. In winter, you’ll need snowshoes and hiking poles.

Inside Outside Magazine

If you want to make the trip yourself, click over to Backpacker’s Review for logistics – LA LUZ TRAIL – CIBOLA NATIONAL FOREST (8 MILES)

 

 

Resurrection Pass Trail, Kenai, Alaska

The 38-mile Resurrection Pass Trail through the Kenai Mountains is by far the most popular multi-day backcountry route in Southcentral Alaska. Ideal for backpackers and mountain bikers—and a great destination for skiers and snowshoers during snow season—the trail links historic gold mining areas near Hope with a trailhead near Cooper Landing close to the Kenai River.

It is a true classic, drawing hundreds of visitors over the entire year. Many Alaskans return annually—often taking at least five days to traverse the route. …

You have two options for accommodations on multi-day trips: rent cabins or carry a tent.  …

If you want to hike from one end to the other, you need to set up a shuttle or book a trip on a local trail taxi. …

The Kenai Mountains feature prime brown bear habitat, and the forests abound with black bears. So take all the usual precautions—including storing food in bear lockers or portable vaults, keeping a clean camp and carrying bear spray for deterrence. Make noise and pay attention. Hikers regularly report encounters with or catch sight of both species. Having said that, the trail gets regular human traffic and does not have a reputation for unusual bear problems.

Mid-June through early September is the window.

Kraig Adams expanded on the standard route. And put together a video which reveals the massive landscape very well.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

(via Adventure Blog)

Ausangate Circuit, Peru – Aug 2018

Our friends at Travel2Walk posted an excellent independent trip report and video from one of our top 10 hikes in the world.

It’s gotten a LOT more popular since we were there in 2005.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

AT A GLANCE

Peru
Peru
  • circle the sacred Ausangate massif (6372m, 20,905ft), the highest peak in southern Peru
  • 4 high passes between 4757m – 5165m!
  • 70km (43.5mi) plus sidetrips
  • almost everyone does Ausangate with a guide, but it’s quite doable independently if you are acclimated 
  • many options to extend this trek
  • best months are the May-September dry season
  • Tinqui is 5-8 hours now only about 3.5hrs by bus on a new road, about 100km S.E. of Cusco
  • sidetrip to the “rainbow mountains” of Vinicunca

glacier

To learn more, click over to our Ausangate information page.

Related – Cam Honan – Ausangate Circuit: Independent Hiker’s Guide