Day 6 – 8/23/2016
After carefully planning out today’s route, we checked out hotel in Jasper. It was still cloudy and drizzled here and there. Since we got rained out the day before, today will be a busy day for us. No time to waste, we headed down Icefields Parkway.
Mount Edith Cavell – Milepost 224-km, turn onto 93A, then Cavell Road
Mount Edith Cavell was named after Edith Louisa Cavell, a woman heroin who helped to keep the soldiers safe during WWI and was later executed by the Huns. The Canadian government named a 3,363-meter peak in her honor exactly 100 years ago.
Path of the Glacier Loop – 1.6-km round trip with slight elevation, easy and exquisite view, 9:15am
The trail is no longer a loop, the lower part of the trail was destroyed by ghost glacier falling off the cliffs. The Path of the Glacier trail travels through paved path, then a glacial basin, with lateral moraine on one side. Then we arrived at a tiny but exquisite Cavell Pond. Though we could no longer get close and personal to the pond, the view of the floating glacier was still very impressive, and the layering of the Cavell Glacier was clearly visible.
Here is the hanging Angel Glacier sits on top
Athabasca Falls – Milepost 200-km, 10:45am
The fall was an easy walk on paved path from the parking lot. The viewing area was crowded. We then walked along a few concrete bridges overlooking canyon.
We then climbed down a set of stairs and reached the bottom of the fall and an open view of the Athabasca River. It was contrasting images between the roaring fall and calm river.
The area around the river bank was so much quieter than the waterfall viewing platforms as vast majority of people rushed to the fall and then left.
Sunwapta Falls – Milepost 176-km, 12pm
With a small island in the middle of the Sunwapta River just up stream of the brink, Sunwapta Falls has an idyllic setting. There is really no trail here, it’s a short walk to the viewing area. 10 minutes, we were out of the parking lot.
Peyto Lake – Milepost 40km, 2pm
Peyto Lake, in my opinion, is not any less beautiful than Lake Louise. It’s one of those lakes you can’t help but gawk at it. You can easily see the lake from a viewing platform, but it’s so crowded.
I also went on to that rock and the view slightly improved.
Bow Summit Trail – a MUST!!! 3.1-km one way with 230 meter elevation gain, moderate
It sounded like a lot of elevation gain, but trust me, it’s not bad at all(!!), as it spreads longer distance.
While most people get back on the road after taking dozens of pictures from the lake’s viewpoint, we set out on our last hike of this trip (which turned out to be one of the best hikes we had ever done in all the national parks). It was quite dreadful to realize this amazing vacation was coming to an end, why couldn’t it last forever? With that in the back of our minds, we really took our time on this hike, marveling at every snow covered mountain peak, every sight of lakes in the distance, every rock, and every bush. I am at a loss for words to describe the feeling on the trail surrounded (yes, surrounded) by mountains after mountains, bare or snowy, hardly with any vegetation.
At about 2.6km, there was a stream almost coming out of nowhere, and you could hear the water gushing down cliffs beyond where we could see.
After a steep climb, we reached Bow Summit Lookout, a flat meadow, with ground hugging plants. It was cold and windy up there. We were told the summit was snow-covered at least 9 months in a year. From here we had an open view of the Icefields Parkway and entire Mistaya Valley, dotted with blue-green lakes.
Curious as we were, we continued on a narrow, unofficial footpath. In just about 200 meters, we had the most incredible view of Bow Lake, the one we hiked around on Day 4.
For the first time, we had some company, thus we had this picture with all four of us posing with the lake :).
Reluctantly, we turned around and headed back toward the trail head. Keep an eye out for a gravel footpath on your left, looking like this.
Trying to extend the hike as long as possible, Alex and I started hiking up without any idea what’s ahead of us. We followed this dirt path for about half of a kilometer until it ended in an open rocky area which offered the most fantastic view of the Peyto Lake, with Peyto Glacier, water fall, silty beach leading into the lake. There was no one else in that open space. Claire and Jie climbed up after hearing our oohs and ahhs. We spent our final moments at Canadian Rockies with this beautiful lake in front of us. The tranquility was simply beyond words.
Before we got to the parking lot, we met this chicken like bird, casually walking around, not bothered by us staring at it at all :D.
After spending solid 3 hours at Peyto Lake and Bow Summit, it was finally time to drive back to Banff townsite and Calgary. We were leaving with great joy and memories, already thinking about where to visit, what to do for our next trip to the Canadian Rockies.