Glacier Lake was the first backpacking trip of the season. Snow was melting apparently much slower than usual so we had to plan something low elevation that became snow free early season. It was decided Glacier Lake, a glacier fed backcountry lake in Banff, was the one.
Tom & I and our new friends Paulina & Darren with their lovely dog Naya met at the trailhead at midday on a spring day in the middle of June. The trailhead is situated about 83km north of Lake Louise on the scenic ice fields parkway. This road is known as one of the top ten scenic drives in the world. And anyone who has driven it will know why. It’s beautiful! Many glaciers and lakes and waterfalls which can be seen right from the car.
We had packed up our gear into our backpacks, and with a few borrowed bits and pieces from friends, began the hike.
Glacier lake is approximately 8.9 km one way and only about 210m in elevation gain /225 loss so nothing too strenuous. However, it always takes some getting used too having a backpack on! The trail started off lovely and wide winding its way through the forest. We crossed over the Saskatchewan river after about 15 minutes on a big wide bridge and twenty minutes later came out of the forest to some amazing views and some Red Chairs which we had some pictures with. The viewpoint looks out the the historic Howse Pass route which was an early route for fur traders led by David Thompson.
The braided Howse river was alongside the trail and we started a long easy graded climb over the ridge to where the lake sat.We then kept on and the trail got a bit more wet and muddy, but still nothing too bad considering some of my NZ hikes! I was amazed my feet got to stay dry, what a treat. We crossed over a few streams and felt like we were getting closer. Arriving at the lake, it was definitely chilly and we realised we might be in for a cold night.
Glacier Lake is over 3km in length making it one of the largest backcountry lakes in Banff.
We popped our tents up, we had our new one which we were trying for the first time. It’s a great tent and super easy to put up. After a cup of tea and some chilling out, we all decided to do another afternoon explore out to a viewpoint onto the Howse river to the South of where we were camped. Although the track was only a couple of kilometres, it was an unmaintained track and there were many trees down.
It was fun! There were some killer views of the river which was fed from the lake. Finally we came to a large cliff viewpoint which offered supreme views down to the Howse river and across to several glaciers. It was a wide view looking east and north and we were definitely the only people around.
We cooked a great feed by the lake and drank a few well deserved wines. A couple of other people were at the camp but we had a lot of space and felt a welcome break in nature from the bustle of new jobs and a new town.
The next day we cruised back to the car, the track went quick and we were back to the car in no time.
An epic first trip!