Egypt Lake (Banff Nat. Park)-Aug 13-15, 2006
Back to one of my favourite places, this time with my son Michael (16) We were both a little bagged from work so I had promised ‘nothing too strenuous’.
Sunshine Village ski resort parking lot.
Total 47.2 km
Day one: TH via Healy Creek / Healy Pass to Egypt Lake (E13) campsite: 12.2 km
Day two: day hike loop from E13 to Egypt lake / Whistling Pass / Scarab Lake / Mummy Lake / Natalko Lake: 12.2 km
Day three: E13 campsite to TH via Healy pass / Simpson Pass/ Sunshine Meadows / Sunshine Village access road (aka ski out) 22.8km.
TH 1675m, Healy Pass 2315m, E13 1983m, Whistling Pass 2290m, Sunshine Meadows 2300m.
(not being much for stats the distance and elevation are from the map / guidebook)
Good, with the added bonus of signage at significant junctions.
The hike following the Healy creek drainage is straight-forward enough and we reached Healy Pass meadows in time for a bite of lunch. The views from the Monarch Ramparts are outstanding.<1><2> I had been there before and didn’t take a lot of photos this time.
The campsite is well laid out with a communal cooking area consisting of several 4x4 square thigh-high tables and bear poles. We met the other visitors from California & Germany with the only other ‘locals’ being a pair of guys from Edmonton. Visitors from abroad always make me appreciate what we take for granted sometimes only a few hours drive away.
Side tripping day. We headed out from camp to Egypt Lake<3><4> then back to the main trail and up to Whistling Pass for lunch. Saw a family of Ptarmigan <5><6>and this little moocher hoping we’d share our food<7>… no such luck. View of <8>Haiduk Lake and Mount Ball. In 2005 a friend and I continued on from here past Shadow Lake, Twin Lakes etc and out at the Arnica Lake trailhead on Hwy 93, but for this trip it was time to turn around.
Next stop the shore of<9><10> Scarab Lake then cross the outlet stream where a waterfall<11> plunges into Egypt Lake. View over Scarab Lake (en-route to Mummy Lake) to Whistling pass<12> (center) and to one of the <13>Pharaoh Peaks. Mummy Lake<14><15>.
Our guidebook described a route off trail from here to Natalko Lake and I convinced Michael we should try it. Bit of a semi-scramble across a boulder field<16><17><18> but otherwise pretty straightforward route and then descend to<19> Natalko Lake. The view over Natalko Lake with the waterfall coming off the cliff<20> made this side-trip worth the climb. <21> The trail back to camp down the valley is unremarkable but as the ending of a loop it was a good wind-down on the day. On some maps and some of the signage this is also referred to a Talc lake. Natalko Lake technically lies in B.C. but you can visit without paying the P.S.T.
Beginning with a return to Healy pass and the Monarch Ramparts we descended again before climbing Simpson Pass. The last time I hiked this area we used the shuttle to the Sunshine Meadows and then descended Simpson Pass. Going down was quite pleasant. Going up I was starting to get mutinous tones coming from behind me. And I had negotiated that I’d spring for dinner out after the hike rather than paying for the shuttle down which would save 5.7km of gravel road (the Sunshine Village access road and in the winter the ski out) but even so Michael was at this point not overly impressed with my leadership. Part way up Simpson Pass we met a Dutch (I think) couple who were hiking down from Sunshine Meadows via Simpson Pass and then out Healy Creek. Seeing not much but trees for a while they were quite concerned that they were lost. After showing them where they were on the map and parting ways it took about two minutes for me to turn to Michael and announce “I am such an idiot.” - “Yes!” he says very emphatically “Yes, you are.” If you hadn’t guessed … they weren’t going to be using their return ticket down. Oh well, such is life.
Topping out onto Sunshine Meadows<22> it comes as a bit of a shock how the trail changes from a single dirt/rock trail to nice groomed trails topped with 3/8” crushed limestone and little bridges over any place where water might run. A testament to the number of visitors this area gets but with good reason… outstanding views. Rock Isle Lake.<23><24> and some wildflowers <25> After exploring part of Sunshine Meadows we descended the last 5.7km of road and went for the promised dinner in Canmore. Something tells me this won’t be the last time I hike this area.