Saddleback Pass, Fairview 2014

October 11, 2014, at 02:00 AMerika

I joined up with the local Thirty-Something's group for what appears to be another annual trek for me - this time to Fairview up by Lake Louise. It was a glorious day on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend (hmm... de ja vu you say? from 2012), with a yellow brick road of larch needles scattering the trail up, and a fantastic, albeit windy view at the summit. Read more...

The day started out by Sunterra near the Sirocco LRT station on the west line, where we all met up with our fearless leaders at 8am for our departure. It timed really well as we were able to take in the sunrise before heading out. Others were willing to drive, so I took advantage of a week off driving and sat and enjoyed the ride in. Its always amazing what little odds and ends one misses on the drive in. I didn't realize that they were thinning the trees so much immediately east of Lake Louise village along the highway.

We went directly up to the main lake parking lot - no shuttles needed for Moraine Lake any longer, and the lot was only somewhat busy. They were still checking passes. Thought it was neat that when people didn't have park passes, rather than ticketing them, they'd get them to purchase a pass right there. While it's certainly within their right to issue out a several hundred dollar fine, its interesting that they choose to maintain good public relations by having people purchase a pass instead.

Once everyone had checked out washroom facilities, we were off - with puppy dog in tow! The leading couple brought their calm but delightful puppy with them, who did great on the trails. Yours truly was as always overly chatty. Was able to have some interesting conversations about handling of the medical situations with Ebola, and long term planning surrounding energy in North America. I had cross country skied with one of the group a year and a half back with the Calgary Outdoor Nuts before he got punted from the group. It was good to catch up and see how things were going.

The trails up were dry, and as we gained elevation and encountered more larches, were increasingly covered in larch needles. Quite the lovely trail to walk along. From Saddleback Pass we observed a handful of hikers atop Saddle Mountain, immediately east of Fairview. An objective for another time perhaps. Observing some returning hikers commenting about wind and cold, we decided to grab a bite to eat in the boulders at the base of the Fairview screefield before pushing on. One unfortunate hiker coming down had worn capris, and subsequently wrapped as many shirts, towels, etc. that she could find around her calves to keep them warm. You do what it takes. And become thankful when you've worn your stylish long johns under your pants. The forecast had stated 3oC for Lake Louise, which meant near freezing for higher elevations. We had a few sprinklings of light hail/large snow, but nothing substantial.

Poles out on the trek up. This was a better trip up than 2013, as there was barely any mud, and no icy sections. No spectacular avalanche viewings (had seen one likely land on Lake Annette across the valley in 2013), but there's been hardly any snowfall yet. As promised, it was windy at the top. Finally took a photo of the metal plate atop the peak - don't hike down the west side: there are cliffs and you'll die a horrible terrible death. Also, it'll scare the tourists down by the lake.

Photo Credit: Desmond

Photo Credit: Desmond
The return down the screefield was slow going as always for me, and as with prior years, we ended up missing the "correct" trail back and found the one that connects to the Saddleback trail just around the dense semi-bouldery switchbacks. One of the group members spotted a pika! But puppy didn't seem to notice. After a final bite to eat near pika territory, it was a quick return down to the parking lot. The one car headed off to Banff to take in the hot springs, but our car headed straight home. After the midnight return from Sentinel some weeks back, it was great to make it home at a reasonable hour. Great hike, nice group and good to stretch the legs.

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