Jasper Park was busier than Wells Grey. I stayed in the Wapiti campground, between the Icefields Parkway and the Athabaska River, south of the townsite. I hiked the trail into the Opal Hills one day, and Wilcox Pass the next. I did the Opal Hills hike on a clear sunny day, with good views for pictures of Maligne Lake and mountains to the east and south:
On arrival, after pitching my tent, I inspected my gear, land earned a bit more about cooking on a one-burner Primus stove. I had some problems with the Primus, which may have been related to using a fuel bottle filled with remnants of other containers that were 5-10 years old. Pasta, cooked in one pot, topped with a sauce cooked in a second pot is quick and easy. Another good one-burner meal is canned chili, supplemented with some cooked rice. Either way, the grain/starch and the canned course cook consecutively, followed by some hot water for dishes and coffee. Cooking the pasta takes a bit longer, heating a pot of water to a boil.
On Tuesday, I hiked Opals Hills above Maligne Lake. According to the self-styled Opinionated Guide, Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies, (I have 3rd edition, 2001), this hike rates as a 2 boot worthwhile, as opposed to a 3 boot Outstanding hike or a four boot Premiere. It starts at the lake, at an elevation of 1690 meters and ascends to about 2160 meters, to alpine meadows with a views of the lake. The guide writers under-rated it. The first one and half k are brutally steep, through a lodgepole forest, but trail is far less crowded than many trails in the Rocky Mountain Parks and the view from the top is good in every direction. Looking south and west across the valley and down the river for instance:
I picked a good day. The next day it rained, and the steep trail would have been slick and dangerous in the rain. With a blister on my toe, I switched from my heavy boots to my light shoes, which were pretty good on a maintained, but rather well-worn trail.
On Wednesday, it was raining in Jasper, but the weather reports indicated the weather was still sunny in Banff. I gambled on the weather being better at the Columbia Icefields, so I drove south and hiked Wilcox Pass. I have hiked that trail 4 or 5 times on past trips and I knew it to be a good hike, with good views of the glaciers and an alpine pass at the top. The trail starts at an elevation of 2040 and the gain is 335 meters, to 2375. It’s not as steep as Opal Hills. The clouds did set in while I was on top, and there was brief rain squall, but conditions were generally good.
On the way up, the view of the Athabaska Glacier was like this:
In the pass, the sky was unsettled.
The clouds closed in and there was rain on the way down. The clouds broke over the Glacier long enough to give me a good look at the Athabaska Glacier:
After two hikes, I was feeling some residual tenderness in my thighs. It was also time to pack up and get to Edmonton for the Folk Festival.