First of all, a big shout-out to Molly KJ Stern and her new class of 4th graders for a fun and studious new school year that begins tomorrow!
In our last post we mentioned that we were planning the hike to Eiffel Lake for Sunday (it is another of our favorites), but had some apprehension as we needed to be in a group of 4 to deter the female grizzly bears and their cubs which live in the area (or face a $5000 fine per person!). It is difficult to find just the right group of people who don’t go too fast and also want to take frequent breaks or stop for photos as we do. Yesterday, we were fortunate to accompany a delightful mix of hikers and also experienced weather we have never had before on this trail.
The 5.8 mile hike with 1210 feet of elevation gain begins at beautiful Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. These photos were taken a few days earlier on a partly cloudy day.
The weather forecast for Sunday was partly cloudy clearing to sunny. Saturday evening we had more rain. As we drove to the trailhead Sunday morning, we discovered what had been rain in the campground was snow in the higher elevations. All of the mountains around us were snow covered – beautiful!
Waiting at the trailhead were a threesome – a father and daughter from the Italian Alps and her husband originally from the UK. They agreed they were not in a rush and would hike at our pace. We had a delightful time with them. The 66 year old father lives, hikes, and skis in the Alps. He told us it is much easier to get above the treeline in the Alps because the treeline is much lower. His daughter and her husband come to the Rockies about every 5 years because the Rockies are so much more wild than the Alps. They have traveled extensively in the US and Canada, lived in New York for four years, and now live in Belgium.
These wonderful hikers got us up through the switchbacks of the steep elevation climb to where the trail splits. They headed on to Sentinel Pass (the highest pass in the Canadian Rockies) which we have done in previous years, and so we waited for a group to come by heading to Eiffel Lake. After a short wait, a group of 11 Koreans from Vancouver, BC let us accompany them. Only a couple of them spoke English, and thus we didn’t find out as much about their group.
Note that there is a bit more snow on the peaks in the photo above than in the earlier photo of Fay Glacier taken just a couple of days ago.
This was our destination, a small alpine lake – Eiffel Lake.
Wenkchemna Pass is the valley in the background of the photo below and is beyond Eiffel Lake. We hiked to there in our youth (1981), but the extra 4 3/4 miles and 1266 feet of elevation gain are a bit more than we wanted on this trip. On the other side of the pass is British Columbia and the Lake O’Hara region.
These 4 French speaking young (fast!) hikers from British Columbia were kind enough to accompany us back to the trail divide. The man in yellow is actually a mountain climber. They were kind and waited for us.
We made it back safely and without seeing any bears. The weather and the setting made for an awesome day! We are so thankful to the hikers who paired up with us, and although we have been looking forward to this trail that we love, we are relieved to have it over, due to the pressure of having to be in a group. The rest of the hikes we have planned do not have bear restrictions.