I camped 3 nights at Circlet Lake altogether. Lovely.
From Circlet it’s not far to the Castlecrag trail marked in orange on the map. Look for the sign to Moat Lake.
I hiked the route marked in orange. Here’s the original Park map online.
This was a foggy and somewhat hazy day.
But plenty clear enough to see where I was headed.
I’d seen lovely Moat Lake the day before from the Albert Edward hike.
For Castlecrag you circumambulate the far side, crossing the worst bridge I’d seen in Strathcona 2020.
En route a helicopter flew into Moat Lake Retreat, an island you can rent with 2 cabins sleeping a total of 10 people. It’s a legacy from when Clinton Wood first built a lodge here in 1934.
In good weather, finding the route is not all that difficult. Follow the cairns and (possibly) ribbons.
Much of this adventure is above the treeline.
Overall the hiking is more difficult than on nearby Edward Albert as there is a fair bit of boulder hopping over avalanche slopes.
Two highlights end of September: no mosquitoes and autumn colours.
The turnoff UP to Castlecrag is not signed. Watch for the big cairn on the right.
Castlecrag 1740m (5709ft) is a satellite peak to Mt Albert Edward 2093m and many serious hikers / trail runners connect the two via Mt Frink. I’d originally planned to do that myself — but found it too difficult and risky on my own. Also, days are short end of September. I might have spent some hours in the dark on the way down.
It’s a short climb from the cairn to the summit of Castlecrag.
Once again the guided hiking group nearby was up and gone before I’d even woken up.
I started up into a very cool gorge section. It was dark and hazy.
This is Azib Imi n’Ouassif (2841m), a crossroads of several gorges where some people camp.
From here it’s a steep climb to the pass at Tizi n’Ouanoums.
Escapee goats live on these inhospitable cliffs. There’s not much to eat.
It was a bit of a relief to reach the second high pass of the circuit. From here it was all downhill … at least while carrying full pack.
Descending the pass was supposed to be a bit treacherous. As I crossed it wasn’t all that bad.
I could see some of the Iceland group having lunch at the bottom. By the time I got there they had begun climbing a secondary trail up the other side to the 2nd / 3rd highest peaks in north Africa. Their guide stayed back having hurt his ankle. In fact he sent the group cook as guide in his stead.
I had some lunch too. Then, with plenty of time, followed. Weather looked good.
The scramble to one Ouanoukrim summit — Ras Ouanoukrim (4083m) — in a hail storm turned out to be the highlight of the entire circuit. We had a blast.
Once safely down, the others headed off briskly (as they always did) to rejoin their group. One of the men, Dorfi, had once led a 3 week horse trek across Iceland. This weather was nothing to him. He wore a wool sweater under a waterproof poncho on that trip. Never got wet.
In no rush I walked slowly downhill to Toubkal Refuge (3207m).
I’d plan to wild camp again … until I saw the massive complex. It looked intriguing.
As it was raining too I decided to camp at Refuge Mouflon and sign up for the 7pm dinner. It was pretty good.
I charged my batteries in Mouflon after dinner and watched an episode of Better Call Saul on my phone as I waited. Then headed out into the rain to my tent.