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post #1 of (permalink) Old 06-05-2021, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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Default Minnewanka To Ghost

Few years back I dayhiked to east end of Lake Minnewanka via Ghost Lakes (report is here). Sitting at lake shore between scattered driftwood I looked with longing towards "The Narrows" and wished I brought overnight gear. Ever since I've been wanting to walk length of Lake Minnewanka; I've hiked many times from west but only to LM8 - what about section in between? Area is incredibly scenic with many wonders waiting to be discovered along the way. With several days of heat wave sitting over BNP in early June I figured now would be the time to go for it; sleeping by the lake would likely be quite refreshing, while canopy of trees on reasonably undemanding trail would provide shelter from the sun.

So I booked site at LM9 campground and hiked there on 1st day, and after setting up the tent enjoyed late afternoon sitting by the lake with beer (or two). LM9 is nice camp, 5 pads only so it is not likely to get too crowded and cooking / eating area is right by the beach. Couple of tent pads also had nice wood bench which was really luxury. Minnewanka overnight is not really backcountry, more like family camping. Overnight it rained to my surprise and it really refreshed the air. In the morning after packing up I left all overnight gear in large metal container designed for watercraft gear (all LM campgrounds seemed to have one of these). Then I set of with light pack to east end and Ghost Lakes. It was a wonderful journey with fantastic views all day. Drinking water was bigger problem than anticipated as several drainages extending to the lake where I expected to find water were dry, but there were also 2 somewhat tricky unbridged crossings (one at LM9 and second at LM11) that are likely dry later in season. Here is photo story from second day (LM 9 - Ghost and back)

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[LM9 crossing; this pic was taken on return and water was clear, but going in it was all murky and raging. Someone with long legs might be able to jump across right here, but I found very simple step-over just a bit downstream]

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[Very beautiful section of trail between LM9 and LM11]

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[Crossing just past LM11, much more tricky. On return I crossed on log jam seen on the pic, but going in I scrambled upstream which was longer and more tedious]

Then around 17km mark there was ranger cabin! Very very beautiful setting in stand of Aspen trees. I love ranger cabins, they are always in such pretty settings and make you wish you could just live there. Couple of pics, one color and one b&w, both same spot; think b&w adds something to the atmosphere felt there

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As I was sitting on the stairs for snack break, I got visitor! This pic is cropped; really wish I had my zoom lens with me
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Trail gets a bit more rugged past the cabin crossing several rockslides. All attention is on the other side across the lake, as Carrot drainage comes to a close with wonderful backdrop of Mt. Peechee, of which thundering avalanche booms could be heard all day

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[Mt. Peechee; on left ridgeline you can see the knob I called "Peechee Shoulder" I scrambled couple of weeks ago]

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[Carrot Creek drainage. There is also LM31 campground there, but area is reportedly quite overgrown and travel up is quite tedious]

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[Minnewanka / Ghost are also wildlife corridors (few weeks ago there was human fatality in Waiporous area), and past July 10 Parks require hiking in groups of 4, no bikes and no dogs. I saw this fresh bear scat]

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[Approaching LM20 or Mount Costigan campground with wonderful views of Saddle Peak (for more info on scramble route up Saddle Peak see here]

LM20 is really nice campground (I looked in detail at all campgrounds, even if they were bit of trail so required slight diversion). I'd really like to stay at LM20 at some point. Beyond it is another 2km to LM22, which also had horse corral and pretty nice beach as well

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[LM20 beach and my favorite Minnie campground]

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[LM22 beach; there was motorboat moored here with people having picnic at the shore]

Past LM22 there was only just above 2km to east end of the lake I needed to reach to connect with my trip couple of years ago. Right after the campground there is large washout and cairns help across; there was also fresh water to fill the bottle; otherwise I'd be forced to drink from Minnewanka. Approaching the east end there was also lots of deadfall. Minnewanka shoreline is popular MTB trail, but they don't cycle all the way so nobody clears this part of trail (I doubt many people walk here either). But it is probably the most scenic, at least for me, and after reaching the end I dropped to the shore and walked to same rock I sat couple of years ago; task was completed and I linked Ghost and Minnewanka

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[Approaching east end of Lake Minnewanka]

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[Panoramic view from east end; Saddle Peak is center left, and Peechee quite far now on the right side]

Return was the same way, and after picking up gear at LM9 I hiked out to the car. Day was quite long, ~40km (9 with overnight pack), and got quite tired, sporting two large blisters along the way. But the adventure... Minnewanka is special and should be savored slowly, over and over.

Composite Trip Report covering entire Distance from Minnewanka Parking Lot to Devil's Gap (2018 and 2021 trips) is also in more concise form on personal site here
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Last edited by zeljkok; 06-08-2021 at 08:15 PM.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 06-07-2021, 10:38 AM
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Thank you very much for posting! We are headed to Minnewanka for a few days next week with plans to camp at LM8 and spend a day exploring Aylmer Pass and another day continuing along the lake. Ive been able to find info about Aylmer but not so much about the lakeshore route and am now excited to spend a day exploring it! Great pictures!
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 06-07-2021, 02:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks mtn.mom! LM8 is also nice, bigger than others but spacey. Water in drainage you cross on bridge just before LM8 will still be flowing so you won't have to get water from the lake (which is quite low right now). Aylmer might have snow patches, there is fresh snow overnight halfway down Bow Valley btw. For walk down the lake, there is really neat section just before LM11. Watch for mtn. bikers. Enjoy!
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