For this year, with the limited travel and since we always wanted to, we booked a hike to the Burgess Shale. This got cancelled due to low air quiality brought on by the BC Wildfires. We took advantage of low tourist numbers and spent some time in Lake Louise. Also we were able to book two nights in Lake O’Hara Lodge due to a cancellation to do three days of hiking. We then checked out the Valemount Bike park and the nice network at Candle creek in Clearwater.
This place is very tough to get into as Parks Canada limits the number of people that can camp and/or get a bus ride into. The private Lake O’Hara Lodge is fully booked, mostly by returnees. We were able to book two nights after being on a waiting list for cancellations. Others have gotten a spot in the lodge after cancellations by calling everyday… It’s expensive, but the Lodge is nice, food is amazing and the staff are great. There is no internet or cell service at the lodge so it is a true remote luxury experience.
The weather for our days was ok, cloudy, but no smoke or rain. While blue skies would have been nice, the magesty of the place did present itself to us.
Day 1 we did the Morning Glory, Linda Lake Hike. Nice forested hike to beautiful alpine lakes.
Day 2 we did the bigger hike of Wiwazy gap, Huber Ledges to Oesa Lake, then Yukness Ledges. From here I went down East Opabin Trail back to O’hara Lodge, Lee continued on the All Souls route to Schaffer Lake and out Lake McArthur trail.
Day 3 we hiked out Big Larches trail to McArthur lake and back along the Lake McArthur trail. This is probably the classic Lake O’Hara hike.
These are nice easier hikes that give you a good tour of the Lake O’Hara area.
We also hiked around the lake each night after dinner with another friend from Vancouver, Doug Pope and his family, who booked for 5 days at the Lodge!
Very worthwhile experience and lots of options for bigger objectives and not as crowded as Lake Louise which is one valley over!
From Lee – day 1
Shar and I wanted to take advantage of Covid induced lulls in tourism of the Canadian Rockies to see some beautiful places when they were relatively uncrowded. We tried to book a place to stay at Lake O’Hara Lodge to spoil ourselves in backcountry luxury but they were solidly booked even 4 months before August. August rolls around and we get a last minute spot!Off we go and, terribly for communities to the west, fire and smoke season is in full swing. However weather turns in our favour and light rain and cooler temps comes in as we get bussed into the Lake.Our first hike is a valley hike to the subalpine lakes of Morning Glory and Linda Lake. There’s so little traffic the trailbed is soft and mossy. Good for Sharon’s shinsplints.Food is of acceptable quality.
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Lake O’Hara Lodge
Morning Glory Lake
Lake O’Hara Lodge
From Lee: Day 2
Got fortunate again with the weather. The previous day’s rain held off smoke and kept temperatures relatively cool. While the top of peaks at 3000m+ were wreathed in cloud we hiked in comfort.I’m not entirely sure why this traditional route is called the “full”. Surely a full would involve a peak bag. Nevertheless it does showcase impressive hand made rock-laid trailwork by early ACC and park rangers!We did this clockwise first starting from the Lodge then bee-lining to Wiwaxy Gap getting the biggest elevation gain out of the way. It was so nice that Wiwaxy (‘windy’ in Stoney) wasn’t even windy. The route to scramble to Huber and Wiwaxy West is a no-brainer from here. Onward we then went cruising eastward and slightly down ledges to Lake Oesa (‘Ice’ in Stoney). From my Dad’s 1989 guidebook the overhanging NW glacier spilling over the rim has seen better days but the Lake is still in a gorgeous setting. Then over we rambled slightly W and then S around the lower slopes of Yukness ( also an easy scramble ) along these same gorgeous ledges. This was my favourite part of the hike as you see completely different views, rocks, plants as you traverse towards the Opabin Plateau and the remnant glacier. There’s a lot of loose rock too (even more so than the usual Rockies choss) as the boulders strewn will remind you. We wandered around Lake Hungabee then you have a choice to either descend back to Lake O’Hara down the plateau following either west or east descents. I took off for the last alpine traverse along the All Souls alpine route which traverses an aesthetic alpine bench to the All Souls point ( curiously named because an early visitor said it somehow reminded him of excessive German drinking parties). It’s a steep loose descent off All Souls then back down to valley floor along which I ran trying to duck out of the afternoon stiff wind which had just spring up. An alternative is to continue just a little way past All Souls along the ridgewalk to Mt Schaffer there’s a good boot scree surface slope you can plunge step down to Schaffer Lake but since I didn’t see the slope beforehand, didn’t take. If there was decent snow it’d make a fine ski. From the valley it’s an easy walk back to the Lodge along a well trodden track many use to get to Schaffer Lake and McArthur Overall this route deserves it’s high recommendations. You get to alpine without descending to valley. If weather comes in you can retreat. It’s also very fast due to exceptional trailwork. We were out of the lodge at a bit after 9.30 and back at 2.45 even ambling at a decent unrushed pace. Lots of time left to paddle out in a Canoe and eat excessive pastries for afternoon tea
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Breakfast at Lake O’Hara Lodge
Creek outlet of Lake O’Hara
Lake O’Hara from Wiwaxy Gap
Huber Ledges Trail from Wiwaxy Gap
View of Lake O’Hara
Wiwaxy Trail view from Schaffer
East Opabin Trail
Amazing Dinners at Lake O’Hara Lodge
Evening Canoe on Lake O’Hara
From Lee: Day 3
The lodge has a morning and afternoon bus out so you can “check out” of your room and still get a proper hike in. The days are so pleasant, the food so good that its tough to pass up the opportunity for a pleasant ramble out to Schaeffer Lake then Lake MacArthur. We took the high route then the lower route back. McArthur must be one of the more scenic lakes around surrounded by the remnant glaciers and with Biddle and Park looming over it. The exceptionally chossy Biddle Pass leads to a ridgeline where you can quite simply meander over to Park Peak. Out and back to the lodge in 4 hours. Stuff yourself with tea and cookies and we’re done! Weather window taken
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McArthur Lake view from Big Larch Trail
Hike Logs on Trailforks