Thursday, December 30, 2010

Storm Mountain

This is without doubt the toughest climb in this guide. This is the challenge that will graduate you from an aspiring scrambler to an accomplished one. There are countless kilometres of deadfall to climb over, bushwhacking to endure, route-finding to navigate, a boulder field to crawl over and a stream to splash across. But the best prize of this challenge is 1000 m of the nastiest scree you have ever encountered. This could possibly be the most exhausting day of your life.
Upper scree slope


Storm Mountain Trailhead:
GPS: N51 13 06.1 W116 03 25.7
Elevation: 1644 m

Storm Mountain Summit:
GPS: N51 12 27.6 W116 00 17.9
Elevation: 3165 m

Trailhead: From the crossroads of the Trans-Canada and the Banff–Windermere highways (Hwys. 1 and 93), travel south for 11.4 km to a small gravel pull-off on the east (left) side of the highway. This is readily recognized, as there is a steel gate inside the pull-off. This parking area is 1.2 km south of the Continental Divide marker, also on the east side of the parkway. The Continental Divide point of interest is 10.2 km south of Castle Junction.

Walk around the steel gate, follow the road and immediately enter a large field. Stroll through the middle of it and make your way to the far left end. Here there is a short, narrow gully taking you down to a stream that is barely too wide to step across. A makeshift bridge of old logs is apparent but slippery. Be careful. Waist-high brush presents the first obstacle for a trail-less beginning.

Past the thick brush, the way opens to the horrific remnants of the 2003 forest fire season and the repetitive deadfall that must be climbed over. This alone becomes exhausting after the first 40 or 50 of these natural obstacles. The stream remains on your right as the trail ventures upward through burnt forest with green undergrowth. Stick close to the stream while searching for a faded track. It is there, so keep an eye out as you continue upward, because about 20 minutes into the trek you’ll find a stack of cairns approximately knee high close to the stream. This marks the beginning of the recognizable trail.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Check out the book cover for Volume 2

The book cover has been chosen after reviewing hundreds of photos of my mountain treks throughout British Columbia. Any feedback would be appreciated!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Journey

The Journey

Dust arising from the path a new
journey to begin

From the peak to the base, the hills cast
a shadow upon us, as if to grin

Stating their difficulties, we look upon
in awe,
a quest, a trek, a challenge for all

The sweat and the pain; outweighed
by the lush fields, the sweet pure water,
and the rugged terrain

The icy guardians, they lurk up high in
the hills,
watching our every move, grumbling,
they stay still

Pushing through the rain, the snow, and the sleet,
the body is tired.
Your eyes demand more
despite your sore feet

And when the sun comes up, your picture is
perfect, nothing you could have imagined,
and now the journey becomes worth it.

--Tyler Shea

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Backcountry Stoves

MSR Pocket Rocket

There are two types of backcountry stoves to choose from: those that use canister fuel and those that use liquid fuel. The canister type comes in a variety of styles, and all of them use pressurized fuel that is either butane or a mixture of butane and propane. Of the two kinds of canister fuels, the blended-fuel type produces a hotter flame. Even so, all fuel canisters will fade in cold weather and at high altitudes. Almost all liquid-fuel stove systems use inexpensive white gas, which burns more efficiently than either type of canister fuel. The liquid fuel stove is also more efficient at high altitudes and cold temperatures. What’s more, when a liquid fuel stove runs out of gas, it only requires refilling the empty cylinder, whereas with canister fuel the entire canister has to be replaced.

The canister stove may burn somewhat more powerfully than the liquid fuel stove at first, but it loses its efficiency proportionately as pressure and fuel decrease. What’s more, with most brands of canister units, there is no effective way of controlling the fuel output. Liquid gas stoves, on the other hand, come equipped with a pump and a flow control valve, allowing far greater regulation of the fuel. The Mountain Safety Research (msr) “Pocket Rocket,” however, is an extremely lightweight, ready-to-use canister system that does permit control of fuel flow.

The only real benefit of the pressurized canister system is its easy set-up and use. You just attach the canister, light the stove, and it heats up immediately, while the liquid gas stoves are more finicky and time-consuming to set up. But even among liquid gas stoves, there are levels of craftsmanship, and msr’s WhisperLite Internationale has been proven reliable for decades. It boils water quickly and simmers very effectively, even in high winds, rain and cold and at high altitudes.
MSR Whisperlite International

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vermilion Peak

Vermilion Peak is best described as a straightforward, relatively quick scramble that starts ascending almost immediately. There is no warm up here, just right down to business. The drawback with this type of climb is that there is no break in it; it is just straight upward with no levelling off until you reach the summit.

Elevation Gain: 1207 m

GPS: N51 09 35.6 W116 09 09.0
Elevation: 1419 m

Vermilion Peak Summit:
GPS: N51 09 37.3 W116 07 00.5
Elevation: 2586 m
Trailhead: From the Castle Mountain junction on the Trans-Canada Highway follow Hwy. 93 (Banff–Radium Highway) 21 km south to 4.1 km south of the Marble Canyon parking lot and 1.5 km south of the Paint Pots parking lot. The trailhead is unmarked but you can recognize it by an opening in the forest creating a bit of a meadow on the east (left) side of the highway. It’s your choice whether to park your vehicle here and leave it alone or park instead in the Paint Pots parking lot and walk the 1.5 km to the trailhead.             
Cross this sometimes muddy field and follow the small slope up to the remnants of the old highway. Turn south (right) here and walk for about 75 to 100 m, reaching a wide opening in the forest on your left. This obvious, broad gap makes its way up to the gully, which you will remain in for the better part of this scramble. In fact, this gully is visible from the highway and is clearly the only choice up this side of the mountain.

This avalanche channel has two easy obstacles to manoeuvre. Two small rock walls in quick succession require a little bit of handwork for about 15 to 20 m. Beyond the rock walls, continue up the path and you will eventually encounter a fork. Both trails will bring you to the same place. The right-hand one is shorter but steeper. Regardless which one you choose, you will arrive below the summit ridge. Continue ascending but begin to traverse to the right until you reach a reasonable approach that will get you to the summit ridge.
Once up on the ridge, most of the work is done and the rest is an easy walk on a well-trodden path that straddles the ridge to the summit. About 100 m shy of the cairn-marked true summit is the well-marked “popular” summit where most scramblers seem to stop due to exposure and sudden drops down either side. It is up to you. Assess your confidence and comfort and do not just go on pride.

Stanley Peak is unmistakable to the east at an impressive 3155 m, while the less impressive Mount Haffner is slightly south (right) at 2514 m.

Vermilion Peak history

Vermilion Peak derives its name from the river and valley of the same name. Vermilion is one of the brilliant colours of the pigment the Ktunaxa (Kootenay) First Nations discovered in this area. The Ktunaxa would extract the stuff from the region’s ochre beds and heat it over large fires to smelt out the pigmented powder. They would then mix this with animal grease and use it for colouring their clothing, painting their bodies and making pictures on rocks. The most common colours were red (vermilion) and yellow.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Helmet Falls Campground

If not for the overall distance, the journey to these wondrous falls would be reasonably effortless. As Kootenay National Park does not possess the notoriety of the neighbouring Banff and Yoho parks, it is often less travelled. So it is not too surprising to come across such a gem as this without any fanfare or very much human traffic. The place is remarkably unknown and amazingly easily accessed. Helmet Falls has a total height of 352 m that spills over two tiers. The single drop forms from two streams which join at mid-fall. The two streams originate from two separate glaciers in the massive Washmawapta Icefield.

Distance: 15 km

Elevation Gain: 319 m

GPS: N51 10 12.3 W116 08 50.1
Elevation: 1443 m

Helmet Falls Campground:
GPS: N51 11 46.6 W116 18 17.8

Elevation: 1762 m

Trailhead: From Castle Junction drive south on The Banff-Windermere Highway for 19.6 kilometers to the Paint Pots parking lot on the west side of the parkway. The trailhead is well marked, entering the forest on the west side of the parking lot.
The trail leaves the parking lot in a non-eventful fashion. A straight level path accommodates wheelchair access within the first minute, diverting to the left of the main trail. Both trails descend gently, joining shortly prior to crossing The Vermilion River by way of a short suspension bridge. On the other side of the river, the astounding 360° panoramas include peaks of the Vermilion Range dominating the west and north-west horizon, while the Ball Range tower over the span of the eastern sky. If you can stop yourself from this engrossing encounter, follow the trail along the stream, and into the forest to arrive at the lower paint pots. This should take no longer than ten minutes.
The Paint Pots are a rare find, and should be explored, at least for a few minutes. The trail through this mud lover’s paradise is distinct and well worn. Sections that are excessively dirty are laid down with wooden planks. The muddy path inclines slightly to gain the upper section of the Paint Pots, where the water in the lower flats originates. At the top of the ochre beds, the path becomes indiscernible, and you will be left standing at the top of the beds, wondering where to go. If you look straight over the small mud flat up here, you will see that the path picks up again at the far end of the outlet of the main bed. The trail is visible as it enters the forest beside an aged trail marker. Either walk across the mud (it is really quite firm and shallow), or follow a faint path to your right that circumnavigates the small mud flat and ochre pond.
The trail into the forest narrows where an old, rough looking sign guides you to Helmet/Ochre Creek, Tumbling Creek, and Helmet Falls Campgrounds. A stairway of railway ties assists the entrance into the woods. Within another five minutes, a sign steers you to stay straight on the path and a mild elevation gain is felt. A couple of small streams are crossed as the journey through forest of spruce and pine levels off. At about the three and a half kilometer mark on the trek, a magnificent avalanche slope of shrubs, wild berries, and flowers is crossed.
After crossing the slope, the trail pierces the forest for another 6-8 minutes, coming across signs in a small cleared intersection at 3.9 kilometers from the trailhead. The Helmet Creek Falls campground is another 11.1 kilometers straight up the main trail. As the trail departs the junction it begins a slight uphill climb, and the forest becomes sparser with thicker trees. Two kilometers from the intersection, the trail opens up, to a small field of Red paintbrushes, yellow and purple daisies, and a variety of grasses. Views of north and west laying peaks are accessible from the engaging little field.
The next ten minutes of the hike takes the trail down to the river basin where tributaries join Ochre Creek making for some minor rock hopping. The Helmet/ Ochre Creek Campground is situated on the far bank of the Ochre Creek. From here, 8.8 kilometers remain to the Helmet Creek Campground. Stroll through the campground as the trail continues along the eastern shoreline of Helmet Creek and crosses it over a sturdy bridge. The trail leaves the riverbank to climb a series of switchbacks for about 0.5 kilometers. For the next three kilometers, up here, the journey continues through avalanche slopes, and a rolling forest with views of Helmet Creek down far below. Eventually you drop down to the river, skirting it for about two kilometers, crossing it over another suspension bridge.
Leaving the river and entering the forest brings a welcome silence for a short time. Within the next 1.5 kilometers, the first glimpse of Helmet Falls will grab your attention. This site really caught us by surprise during our first hike into the campground. It is still far away from here, but is incredibly spectacular. The falls are 352 meters high, seem to fall forever, and are back dropped on a massive limestone wall. Amazing. The trek finishes on a fairly level circuit of trees and meadow, and finally descends over a bridge into the campground, after passing a Parks Canada Warden cabin.

Purchasing a Sleeping Bag

Sleeping bags

Sleeping bags are categorized by fill, shell, size, shape, internal space, weight, compatibility and temperature rating. The required temperature rating depends on the time of year the bag will be used, the elevation and the local climate and environment. Be aware that weather in the Rockies can change overnight, and it is not uncommon to encounter temperatures below freezing combined with snow even in July and August. Therefore, you should consider a bag that is suitable for subzero temperatures even if you only intend to use it in the summer.

Of the several types of fill, down is the best choice. The rest are all synthetic imitations of down. The superb features of down are that it has high loft (the higher the loft, the warmer you will be), it is lightweight and has great compressibility. The only drawback is that when down gets wet it becomes useless. It will no longer keep you warm, it loses its loft and gets heavy and it takes forever to dry. You might as well pull up your tent and head home.
The synthetics are an adequate, less costly alternative to down, and of course, some are better than others.

The main advantage of synthetics over down is that when they get wet, they will dry out in a reasonable time, allowing the journey to continue. Synthetics do not have the loft or compressibility that down has, though, and they are slightly heavier. Hollofil, Hollofil 2 and Quallofil, though considered a technological alternative to down, are the least-regarded synthetic fills. These bags are bulky, heavy and do not compress well, but they are inexpensive. Primaloft, Primaloft 2, Liteloft, Microloft and Thermolite Extreme are better performers but still they are not the best. Although they are quite compressible, they will not stand up very well in the long run.
Polarguard, Polarguard 3D and Polarguard HV are the top synthetic fills and currently hold 75 per cent of the market. They are very compressible, have good loft, which they maintain longer than the others, and they are very durable. They are also lighter than the other synthetic fills.

When purchasing a sleeping bag, choose it for size as well. There are mainly three adult sizes: small, medium and large. The bag should leave room to pull the hood around your head while leaving a few inches at the bottom for leg movement, but not too much legroom. All empty space in the bag must be warmed with body heat, and wasted space means wasted heat. Spending the night warming up dead space in the bottom of a sleeping bag can make for a very long, cold night. Consequently, when it comes to retaining warmth, a mummy bag is far superior to a rectangular bag. A common problem with some campers, however, is that they feel claustrophobic in a mummy bag, so if you have difficulty in elevators, you will probably have trouble in a mummy bag. To respond to this problem, some mummy bags are outfitted with elastic waist and leg bands to allow for expansion.

Another relevant feature is a double-ended zipper (having a zipper pull at both the top and the bottom of the bag), as this allows partial unzipping along the bottom to permit cooling and movement. There are good rectangular bags available for those who just cannot tolerate a mummy bag.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Volume 2 under way

Revision number 9 of Volume 2: Mountain Treks in British Columbia went back to the publisher yesterday. This should be the final draught, with an expected release date on May 2011! All maps are complete, photos labelled, and details hashed out. With this done, and three years of solid writing behind me, I think I'll write a blog. haha! I just can't stop; it's so much fun. I will keep you posted with final decisions regarding trails, destinations, mountains, maps, and photos.

Aspiring Hiker's Guide 2: Mountain Treks in British Columbia

Monday, December 13, 2010

Purchasing a Backpack

Purchasing backpacking equipment is an important investment, so you should take the time, effort and care to make quality decisions. The choices should not be as carefree as making a trip to a big-box store and buying the cheapest gear available. In fact, the standard rule is that the lighter the equipment is, the more expensive it turns out to be. Cost and quality become the difference between an efficient, lightweight, comfortable backpacking trip and a heavy, tedious, backbreaking, painful one.


When shopping for a backpack, speak with a qualified person in a reputable outfitting store and set aside considerable time for fitting. Each person is unique, and a proper fit is vital for successful trekking. Backpacks are categorized as either internal frame or external frame design.

Internal frame

The advantages of the internal frame style of backpack include its body-hugging capability and lower centre of gravity. Both of these characteristics result in superior balance, with freer arm movement and less bounce. The internal frame pack is also less likely to get hung up on tree branches and overhangs. The disadvantages are a bit of a trade-off, however, because although the lower centre of gravity creates better balance, it will put more stress on the shoulder harnesses, and the snugger body fit will generate perspiration on the wearer’s back. An air mesh frame will help to counteract the effects of excessive...

The books provide several pages of detailed descriptions of backpacks, fitting, materials, and styles.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Big Bend Campground

This campground may very well have the most spectacular setting of any backcountry campground in the entire Rocky Mountain park system. The wide trail does not offer much viewing through the trees, but it is only a little more than 6 km of level hiking to the campground. The trail continues to

Fortress Lake, but going there is not recommended unless you expect to get awfully wet. Crossing the Chaba River requires fording cold water that is one-half to two metres deep. Even in low-water season there is still a very dangerous risk of being swept away in the strong current.
Day tripping to the Athabasca Crossing Campground and the Athabasca River bridge will take most of a day, as they are 8.8 and 9.3 km up the trail respectively.
Difficulty *
Distance: 6.3 km
Elevation gain: 105 m
Trailhead: G PS: N52 31 57.7 W117 38 43.5
E levation: 1408 m
Big Bend Campground: G PS: N52 29 08.1 W117 39 18.7
E levation: 1303 m

Trailhead: From the intersection of Highway 16 and the Icefields Parkway travel 53.5 km south to the Sunwapta Falls parking lot. Look for the throng of tourists making their way to and from the Sunwapta Falls viewpoint bridge. Break trail through the cameras to arrive, hopefully unscathed, at the far end of the short bridge. Actually, the falls are quite spectacular, justifying the heavy traffic. Stop and take a look yourself. After you cross the bridge over Sunwapta Falls, you’ll see the huge crowd of tourists suddenly thin out, as not many visitors to the falls venture farther than the bridge. Within 20 minutes the trail becomes wet as it passes over what appears to be a permanently soggy forest floor. This is 500 to 750 m. Stay on this track, as the sidelines can make your cozy, dry, warm boots suddenly very wet and cold.

Another 15 minutes gets you across a small stream. The level, uneventful, well-trodden path reaches through the beautiful coniferous forest, and soon enough the 6 km is complete as the  spectacular sight of the big bend in the Athabasca River comes into full view. As the forest opens  up at Big Bend the most prominent sight is Mount Quincy standing directly south 16.5 km away. Because of the flat walk-in, the work is done in 75 to 90 minutes, allowing hikers to pack in a few extra luxuries. These peaceful,tranquil, rapid waters can quickly calm even the most bad-tempered indi- viduals. The waters here move slow enough to become entrancing, yet just fast enough to make pre whitewater bubbling sounds,  thus momentarily breaking the enchanting trance.
Day hiking the trail is much like the first 6 km except that there is a mild rise in elevation immediately after leaving Big Bend Campground. One to two kilometres later the trail loses the  elevation gained and drops down to the Athabasca River. Then, just as quickly, it regains the  forest. The rest of the hike is straightforward by just simply following the main trail. There are no key intersections or diversions. The Athabasca River bridge is a wondrous destination, since it has few lingering visitors, leaving it for your sole enjoyment. Quiet contemplation on this structure makes this long day trip meaningful.

Mount Temple

Even though the scramble to the summit of Mount Temple involves a short
hand-over-hand climb, it is an extensive yet easy scramble to the summit of
this highest of the peaks in this guidebook. The only reason it is included,
and consequently exposing you to a bit of risk, is because of the absolute euphoria of being at such high altitude. Temple is the third-highest peak in the southern Rockies, the highest in the Lake Louise area, and overall the 11th-highest in the Canadian Rockies. There is much to be said for being so high up that you are looking down on the top of every other mountain in sight. A climbing helmet is recommended for the rock wall.

Elevation gain: 1675

Trailhead: GPS: N51 19 43.3 W116 10 54.0
Elevation: 1873 m

Sentinel Pass: GPS: N51 20 26.0 W116 13 18.6
Elevation: 2619 m

Summit: GPS: N51 21 03.7 W116 12 23.0
Elevation: 3548 m

Trailhead: From the town of Lake Louise, drive up Lake Louise Drive
toward the Chateau and turn left on Moraine Lake Road. Continue to the
Moraine Lake parking lot, approximately 12 km from the turnoff. Hike
the right side of the lake starting behind the Chateau until you reach
Larch Valley Trail.

The 6-km walk to Sentinel Pass covers an ascent via switchbacks
through forest, subalpine and alpine regions while passing lakes and
streams. Initially, the trail is an hour of relentless switchbacks, finally levelling
off to a picturesque walk through the meadows of Larch Valley toward
the base of Sentinel Pass. Covering the meadows should take 20 to 30 minutes,
allowing your body to rejuvenate before pushing on to the summit.
The lower of the Minnestimma lakes is nestled five minutes off the trail to the right,
while the upper, larger one is farther up the trail on the left.
This is the last source of water before the summit, and it is advisable
to filter, as the water in these lakes is still.
The apex of Sentinel Pass is in sight long before you reach it, and the
long, arduous switchbacks become visible as you get closer. The Sentinel
Pass crest has gained you 746 m, leaving 929 m left to climb. It is here
that you may concede there is too much more work to do, but if you wish
to feel pure jubilation and triumph, and see what very few people on the
planet have seen, then pick up and carry on. This is an experience like no
other in your life.

The path courses up the southwest slope on scree trails marked by too
many cairns for about a half hour until it comes to the only intimidating
part of the entire trip. Here, a helmet should be worn, as there is loose
rock all around. Whether a hiker is going up or coming down, the risk of
someone dislodging a rock on your head is very real. When you arrive at
an impasse that is about 10 to 15 m high, there are two possible approaches.
The first one is a clearly visible hand-over-hand climb up a well-worn
route that is easier than it looks. It is a good idea to take a length of rope
on this trip to haul your daypacks up and down this bluff. The second
option is a narrow crack in the left side of the wall, which has far less
exposure but is tricky to find and harder to climb.

From here on up, for the next hour and a half, the route is a remarkable
network of trails and switchbacks offering the grandest of views as
you weave up the side of the mountain to the large summit. Breathing
becomes markedly difficult because the air thins out, making the summit
push somewhat longer and more laborious than it appears.
From here, the views are astounding as you look down on everything
around you. To the southwest are Hungabee Mountain and Wenkchemna
Peak with Horseshoe Glacier and Horseshoe Lake at the base of them.
You can see forever from up here.

Walter Wilcox, with Samuel Allen and L.F. Frissell, first summited Mount
Temple in 1894. In early August, they departed the Lake Louise Chalet
with fellow climbers George Warrington and Yandell Henderson and a
Stoney Indian named Enoch Wildman to camp in and explore the wilderness
of Paradise Valley. They enjoyed a couple of days of climbing and
investigating this territory, and on August 17 Wilcox, Allen and Frissell
decided to attempt the first ascent of Mount Temple.
The peak had been named ten years earlier by George Mercer Dawson
(1849–1901), a geologist, anthropologist, author, teacher, civil servant, geographer
and paleontologist. Dawson was born in Nova Scotia and schooled
at McGill College in Montreal, the Royal School of Mines in London
and the Geological Survey of Great Britain. He published a considerable
body of influential scientific work. It was in 1884, when Dawson first came
to the Rockies as leader of the British Association for the Advancement
of Science Team, that he discovered Mount Temple. He named the peak
for Sir Richard Temple (1826–1902), who, after a notable career in India, in
particular as Governor of Bombay, returned to England and held numerous
public offices, including as Conservative MP and as Privy Councillor.

Glacier Lake Campground

Incredible beauty at the beginning and at the end, a gorgeous streamside stroll and an elevating walk in a park like forest describe this trail. There are few campgrounds in the Rockies that can be characterized by one single feature, and Glacier Lake Campground is one of them. The sight across the lake, with looming peaks to the far westerly edge, is worth planting yourself on the beach to focus on this one single vision of lake and mountain. Exploring the far reaches of the west end of the lake is a day trip that sees modest traffic. Discovered in the spring of 1807 by David Thompson, the lake was named by Dr. James Hector of the Palliser Expedition 51 years later.

Distance: 8.9 km

Elevation gain: 189 m

Trailhead: GPS: N51 58 23.9 W116 45 34.5
Elevation: 1446 m

Summit of trail: GPS: N51 56 18.3 W116 49 14.8
Elevation: 1622 m

Glacier Lake Campground: GPS: N51 55 38.6 W116 50 14.1
Elevation: 1433

Drive north on the Icefields Parkway for 78 km from its junction with the Trans-Canada Highway, or 1 km north of Saskatchewan Crossing. The trailhead parking lot is on the west side of the Parkway. The trail begins innocuously enough, planting you in the midst of a classic Rocky Mountain forest of lodgepole pine and spruce trees. At the 1 km mark, as the trail crosses the North Saskatchewan River, the forest suddenly opens to display an instant view of the Howse River Valley and its surrounding peaks. This is quite a staggering sight when it is not expected. Another 1.4 km places the trail at the Howse River lookout. A host of peaks awaits your viewing, including Mount Murchison to the far left, Mount Erasmus to the near right and Mount Outram straight ahead.

Travelling down to this valley bottom places the trail on the north side of the Howse River for about 1.5 km. This walk alongside this glacial silt river is exhilarating, as the vistas of the surrounding peaks become captivating. Sadly, though, within 20–25 minutes the trail leaves the Howse to pursue a lesser tributary and re-enters the narrower views within the forest. In the mountains, what goes down must go up, and the trail begins to ascend to 1622 m. After leveling off, the path roams through the lovely forest for 20 minutes before dropping sharply down to 1433 m to Glacier Lake Campground. The sharp descent is occupied by exposed roots and rocks, making it somewhat treacherous.

The decline ends just before the lake, and the trail forks with signage directing hikers to the campground. It is almost impossible to make your way to the campground without checking out the beach first, since the sight of the lake and surrounding peaks draws you like a magnet. The day trip will take you around the north end of Glacier Lake to the far west end. The lake is 3.8 km long and 750 m across, making it the fourth largest lake in Banff Park. A coarse trail parallels the water’s edge to the end of the lake where it becomes less visible as it reaches the flats of the braided glacial runoff stream feeding Glacier Lake. Continue to follow the main branch of the Glacier River for 4–5 km farther to approach Southeast Lyell Glacier. Climbing moraines on the right side of the river offers even more amazing views of the glacier.