Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Geraldine Lakes Campground

The Geraldine Lakes trail should only be travelled during dry, sunny conditions. The trail is lost on the route around the second lake in a maze of large boulders covered with crust lichens, making the hike extremely slimy and slippery. Even without the lichens, large rounded rocks are dicey on their own when wet. Although there are four lakes in the chain, the third and fourth ones are without a trail and require a tremendous amount of work to access.
          The trek to the campground presents two wonderful waterfalls, two lakes and a pond, forest, scree and two gruelling climbs. A day well spent.

Distance:             6.2 km

Elevation gain:    400 m

GPS:                N52 37 42.0 W117 54 51.8
Elevation:        1496

Geraldine Lake #1:
GPS:                N52 36 54.1 W117 55 50.6
Elevation:        1613

Top of First Waterfall:
Elevation:        1694 m

Geraldine Lake #2:
GPS:                N52 35 30.6 W117 56 23.8
Elevation:        1896

Geraldine Lakes Campground:
GPS:                N52 35 17.8 W117 56 42.0
Elevation:        1896

Trailhead: At 32 km south of the junction of Highway 16 and the Icefields Parkway is the turnoff for Athabasca Falls, which is also the south end of Highway 93a. Take this road on the west side of the parkway and drive past the Athabasca Falls parking lot for 700 m. On the left side of Highway 93a is the Geraldine Lakes Fire Road, also the entrance for the Fryatt Valley trailhead. Drive the fire road for 5.6 km, to the end of it.
The first 1.8 km takes you through a dense forest of evergreens which climbs gradually for 117 m before it reaches the first of the Geraldine Lakes. The trail sticks close to the west shoreline, creating damp feet and frustration during high water, so try to veer slightly inland to stay dry.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Panorama Ridge

The scramble to the summit of this ridge promises hard work on loose scree, and wet feet while fording Babel Creek. The only way to prevent the fulfillment of either promise is to take the much longer route via Taylor Lake, but this route is easier and quicker. Achieving any of the adventures in this guidebook is accomplished by using our finite amount of time to do this instead of doing something else. Even when taking into account the cursed scree slopes, fording rivers, walking countless kilometres through forest and balancing on a precarious summit ridge, the thought of wanting to do anything other than this is strikingly strange. So, enjoy the scree and the river crossing, because the euphoria at the summit is just irreplaceable. Moreover, when you are sitting at home this will now become the only thing you think about and all you want to do.

Elevation gain: 905 m


GPS: N51 19 43.3 W116 10 54.0
Elevation: 1873 m
Panorama Ridge: 
GPS: N51 19 34.3 W116 08 04.6
Elevation: 2778 m

GPS: N51 18 24.1 W116 07 15.2
Elevation: 2834 m

Trailhead: The trail crosses the Moraine Lake outlet stream and intersects a fork in the trail without delay. The way is clear, as signs will direct you to the left toward Consolation Lakes 2.9 km up the main trail. There is a 65-m elevation gain over the course of this 2.9-km hike.
There is a short expanse of boulder hopping for a few minutes as you traverse an avalanche slope. Upward to the right is a splendid view of the Tower of Babel. The trail now enters a coniferous forest of spruce and fir that parallels Babel Creek until approaching the lower reaches of Lower Consolation Lake. When the trail breaks through the forest it is greeted by a meadow of wildflowers and a clear look at the route up Panorama Ridge lying across the creek to the left.