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avens 09-24-2021 02:01 AM

Lake Minnewanka and Aylmer Pass
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Last October we day hiked to Aylmer Pass and the lookout, and felt we needed to get back there to spend more time in the pass. This week we backpacked into LM11 for a couple of nights, and spent several hours exploring Aylmer Pass. LM11 ended up being a good choice, as we had strong wind, and it is more sheltered than LM9. The beach is great at LM11, but the cooking area is a bit of a wreck. After setting up the tent, we had lunch on the beach, and then walked another 4.5 km or so down the lake until we found a pleasant beach. Aylmer Pass is great for those seeking solitude, as we have never met anyone on the trail past the junction to the lookout. The pass is long enough for a good day out, and it gets more interesting the farther you hike down the pass. There is a nice cascade and a waterfall toward the north end. Small groves of subalpine fir provide good shelter from the wind, when you need to sprawl out for a while in the sun.

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Palliser Range on the west side

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Apparition Mountain

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Mount Aylmer

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Heading down the pass, trail appears here and there

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This was a nice surprise

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Beautiful small cascade

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Wind finally died down near nightfall, so we stayed on the beach watching the clouds change colour, the wind then picked up again, and blew all night and the next day, when we hiked out

zeljkok 09-24-2021 02:55 AM

That is beautiful. I climbed Mt. Aylmer, but never went to the Pass. Minnewanka shoreline is such underrated gem as backpacking destination, great campgrounds throughout and super base for dayhiking. Next year for sure

avens 09-25-2021 03:12 AM

Totally agree, easy hike in, beautiful area, and solitude in late September, couldn't ask for much more than that.

zeljkok 10-02-2021 07:47 PM

Beyond Aylmer Pass
11 Attachment(s)
Inspired by this post, I decided to finally visit Aylmer Pass. For solo hikers window of opportunity is fairly short - pass is snowbound quite late, and then seasonal 4-person restrictions kicks in early July - mid September. 1st day of October still dry conditions and beautiful weather with days still reasonably long to make dayhike feasible. I love Minnewanka shoreline trail and it was exceptionally beautiful with fall colors and warm temperatures; took only 1hr 15min to LM8 junction. After break at little rise above LM8 continued to the pass; it is about 6km and ~770m vertical, so it took another 1.5hrs. Pass is nothing I expected - several km long alpine saddle with meadows, peaks and waterfalls lower down. But you have to be here much earlier in the day as it falls into shade early afternoon. Turned back at lovely waterfall couple of km down from the pass which I'd likely miss completely if it wasn't for avens photos - thanks! Lots of bear diggings here & I could see where all the restrictions come from. It was fairly long day, ~8hrs return for ~30km and ~1000m vertical (estimate). Pics, not as good as pass was in shade:

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[Lovely fall colors at LM8 junction]

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[Little rise above LM8 junction I always use for a break - it is on your right just as you start up Aylmer Pass trail - with great views down Minnewanka towards Carrot Peak and the Narrows]

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[Aylmer Pass exit; trail becomes less defined after this]

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[BNP boundary smack at the pass, looking back. This theoretically means single hiker could bivi right here year-round without breaking any restrictions, as it is crown land already !?]

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[Lovely views of Mt. Aylmer, highest in Banff vicinity; I scrambled ~15 yrs ago]

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[Looking north well below the pass with Mt. Brock, Apparition and even Revenant Poking behind. Trail pretty much vanishes here]

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[Lovely and unexpected waterfall -- thanks avens!]

Intrigued by country north of Aylmer Pass I did bit of research afterwards. There is plenty of opportunity for further explorations, as shown on these mock-up maps (black AP = Aylmer Pass, App = Apparition Mtn, B = Brock Peak]

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Daffern describes "Ghost" direction ("Spectral Wonderings, Vol 3 4th Edition orange, Pg 80). What really intrigues me are Spectral Lakes - I don't think they see much human presence at all. It would be fair amount of bushwhack to get there from Aylmer Pass, but probably great bivi. Low col below Spectral Peak could be used for loop that connects with Minnewanka via Cascade FR. And finally peakbaggers could use this for access to Mt. Brock / Apparition / Revenant, all of which are apparently scrambles. This is aerial view of the area from summit of Revenant:

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Spectral lakes directly below, Mt. Aylmer just left of center and Aylmer Pass below it to the right (photo center). Apparition is mid-ground center left, and Spectral Mtn far right. Photo taken from here

Finally this pic shows rough directions from Aylmer Pass
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avens 10-04-2021 12:09 AM

So good to see you explored Aylmer Pass. We have an interest in Spectral Lakes, maybe next fall, your photos and route drawings are really interesting.

zeljkok 10-04-2021 12:42 AM

I think Spectral lakes could be great day hike from LM8 with light pack & also a loop from Aylmer Pass (South Spectral Creek in as in "To Cascade / Stoney" on mockup map, North Spectral Creek out, as in "To Ghost/To Spectral Lakes" on mockup map)

There is also unnamed tarn below Solstice Peak one could visit on the way in. Long day though

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