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post #1 of (permalink) Old 09-13-2016, 11:32 PM Thread Starter
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Default Lake O'Hara, Sept 5-7, 2016

Who: Svetlana, Daniel (16), Nathan (13), and myself.

Where: Lake O'Hara, Hwy 1, Yoho National Park, bordering Banff National Park. Roughly equidistant from Lake Louise in Alberta and Field in BC.



The first thing I have to say about this destination is how truly infuriating it is to book! Your only option is to phone, 3 months in advance, and phone, and phone, and phone starting at 7am PST and every 30 seconds for the next 3 hours (at which time you might get through, only to be told all the spots for that day have been booked), and for days at a time, hoping for something other than a busy signal.. >:-(

I don't know what would be a better, fairer way to do this (especially with the conniving tour operators booking them all up for foreign tourists), but surely there is one.. I gave up after a week of this rigmarole in May (for July) and tried again in July, where to my surprise I got through on the first try!

Anyhoo, we drove down to Lake Louise and spent the night at the soft-sided tents/trailers campground. We felt safe from bears with the electrified fence surrounding us..

I had booked the 8:30 bus to Lake O'Hara, so we got up earlier enough to pack everything up in some semblance of order and drive the 10-15km to the Lake O'Hara fire road off of Hwy 1. We arrived with maybe 10 minutes to spare. Good thing I remembered the time change before heading to bed - the bus is on Alberta time, even though it's just inside the BC border. We loaded our stuff on and pretty much right away we were whisked up the 10km to the Lake O'Hara camp grounds, which is about 1 km short of the Le Relais day shelter, Warden cabin, and Lake O'Hara Lodge cabins. There were a few day hikers coming up the road that the bus driver had to watch out for, as well as various service vehicles from the Lodge, so we were going nice and slow, especially on the bends.



Given how this is one of the jewels of the Canadian Rockies, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised at how 'front country' the facilities were. But I was. Next time I'll be packing much differently! Nice park benches, communal fire pit and a covered wood bin, shelters with stoves, clean and lit washrooms (solar power) with flush toilets, potable water (bit too much chlorine for my taste, but not bad enough to cause me to get my water from the stream across the road and approx 100m away), and 2 large sinks for washing up dishes..





The weather according to the forecast was looking to be rainy all the 3 days we were going to be there, but we were determined to make the best of it. We decided this first day that we would do the trail around Lake O'Hara and get our bearings. The weather was cloudy, but there were breaks in the clouds here and there.









After we did the loop we decided to loop around again and check out Lake Oesa via the switchbacks past the Seven Veils Falls. But luckily we didn't get too far before we got hit with a bout of sleet, so we only had a km to go to get to the campground shelter.



We got a fire going inside the shelter, and as soon as we did the sleet stopped and it started to brighten up outside again. So after we made something to eat we headed out on another walk, this time on the Linda Lakes Trail.





We reached the junction where we had the option of going on to the Morning Glory lakes and Linda lake on the left, or to the road heading back to the campgrounds on the right. We weren't sure how much light we would have left if we pushed on, so we took the road back to camp and called it a day. We got a fire going at the communal firepit and with the chill in the air it was a popular spot. We got some nice alpenglow off of the Wiwaxy peaks across from the campsite, watched the Grey Jays swooping down looking for easy meals, and cooked some marshmellows. Good times.







For day 2 we decided on Lake McArthur. The weather was fairly miserable, but after a breakfast of oatmeal and raisins there was nothing for it but to push on and hope it would improve in the course of the day. We soon passed the Elizabeth ACC huts. Looks like a pretty sweet set up, though I'm sure the occupants that day were rueing the $45 a piece spent (less if they were members, granted) only to have cloudy weather. The larches are already starting to turn, which bodes well for my Healy Pass/Egypt Lake hike at the end of the month.. Things got more vertical as we rounded the shoulder of Mt. Schaffer, though we took the 'low' level circuit. I debated taking the high level, but with the low-lying clouds it would have been pretty futile. We'll save it for next time.















Our arrival was a little anti-climactic, as the clouds barely allowed for a view of the lake, with little to none of the surrounding mountains. But it was still worth the effort. Soon after eating lunch, though, it started snowing in earnest, and it was time to retreat once again, sodden but warm from our exertions..







It was raining of course once we got down to the lower elevations. So no firepit tonight. We snagged what little corner of the shelter we could and ate, hung up our clothes over the stove, and visited with the other hikers until dark.
To be continued....
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 09-14-2016, 01:06 AM Thread Starter
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Day 3 was looking marginally better, so we decided to finish what we started and go up to Lake Oesa via the rock-hewn switchbacks off of the Lake Ohara Lakeshore trail. It really is incredible the amount of work has gone into placing these rock slabs to form these paths and stair-wells.

















You could see quite a bit more of Lake Oesa than what we saw of lake McArthur yesterday, so we were thankful for that..







The plan was to get up to Lake Oesa and turn back the way we came, but an older lady we met on the trail convinced Svetlana that the Yukness ledges were doable, so that was good enough for her.






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post #3 of (permalink) Old 09-14-2016, 01:51 PM Thread Starter
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There were 1 or 2 spots that were a bit butt-puckering, but we all did surprisingly well, I thought.






























We descend down to Hugabee Lake for a breather, before deciding to head up and have a look at Opabin Lake.














This is where I let my side down again, camera-wise (see WCT, Rockwall). The beauty of having a basecamp is not having to shlep every little thing on your back. The disadvantage being that you don't have every little thing on your back! In this case it was my spare battery that I'd left back at camp..

And so just as soon as we discover a mountain goat that's when my battery dies.. Much cursing and armpit-warming of the battery ensues, and I get it running only to discover my memory is full as well, and I have to frantically delete one or two photos before it dies and I have to do the armpit thing again. Finally I get one nigh-on useless unzoomed shot of him off. You'll just have to take my word that he was closer in person, and we saw him actually move around from time to time.



Here's one more I was able to manage on the way back.



We took the East Opabin Trail back to camp. It was a punishing set of switchbacks, and I was left to wonder which would have been harder going up, the switchbacks off lake Oesa, or these? It was beautiful, though, especially as we got down beside the stream. It was the antithesis of the silent rock garden (also beautiful, of course, in its way) that we traversed to get to lake Oesa.. Verdent, lush vegetation and the soothing babbling of the stream.. There were a few hikers that were packing Canons, but again I was too bashful to ask for a card swap.

Once we got back to camp the weather was fine enough again to allow for another outdoor fire, so we enjoyed that, until it started to rain again.. Then it was time to read in the tent till dusk..



The next morning we caught the 9:30 bus out, and headed home. The sun was out by then, of course! >:-(



So a bit wet, but we will definitely be trying our luck again in the coming years!
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 09-15-2016, 05:48 PM
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great pics dougz! also enjoy your TRs.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 09-16-2016, 12:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks..

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Shame about the weather (we had similar mixed conditions a few years back) but it's such a great area isn't it? For me it's one of those areas that really does live up to the hype.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 09-16-2016, 03:24 PM Thread Starter
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We always make the best of it.. And if you must endure rain, this is definitely a place that still offers plenty of stunning vistas notwithstanding!

We are usually 'been there, done that' with hikes/destinations, there being so many on the bucket list, but this place will for sure be the exception. Next year, maybe? Especially if they tweak the reservation system..

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Doug. Many thanks for putting up such a wonderfrul detailed TR. and all those pictures which show the way. Truly an epic journey, in an amazing and beautiful land. I have heard about Lake O'hara and Odesa; and seen a few pictures which did not do justice like your full report has done.

I had similar issues with batteries and memory card fill; I now pack 2 extra battery packs. and use the extra large memory sized card for my camera.

K

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post #9 of (permalink) Old 09-17-2016, 01:04 PM
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Nice way to spend some time before back to school.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 09-17-2016, 03:31 PM Thread Starter
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You're welcome, Karl!

I forgot to reformat my card after the Brazeau trip, otherwise it would have been more than adequate, as I haven't bothered much with videos since I scratched my lens a bit and I get really bad lense-flare and blurring in videos whenever the light hits it. Good excuse for a new one, maybe this Boxing day..

They actually missed the first day of school, but I'm not losing any sleep, as the life experience more than compensates..
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 09-17-2016, 07:19 PM
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Great family trip and nice TR! I always wondered whether Lake O'Hara would be worth the pain trying to book it, but if it is that nice even in the rain, I think it would be. Maybe next summer...
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 09-17-2016, 08:08 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, it's going to be a mad house next summer in the Parks what with the no daily fees for 2017, but I'll be throwing my hat in again.

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post #13 of (permalink) Old 09-17-2016, 10:53 PM
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Nice photos. Lake O'Hara is a pretty spectacular place. Time zones get confusing when they're called Alberta time and BC time. Lake O'hara is on Mountain Time, not Pacific Time, which changes in Rogers Pass. Good thing you were early
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 09-18-2016, 03:10 PM
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great report... Thanks

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post #15 of (permalink) Old 09-19-2016, 06:27 PM Thread Starter
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Well, we were on time, as like I said I realized just as we were going to bed what time zone the O'hara bus schedule was keeping, which was lucky as we would have been standing around for another 2 hours if we missed it..

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