Monday, August 5, 2013

Don't give up. It's worth it.

Helen Lake and Cirque Peak

This is quite possibly one of the most beautiful hikes I have EVER been on.  Aside from the first 45 minutes or so, the views from this hike are constant. You start in the trees, but it quickly opens up into a massive alpine meadow full of flowers and surrounded by mountains and glaciers.  

View from about kilometer 2 of the trail.
Everything opens up at about kilometer three.

Creek Crossing!

View of the Bow Valley towards Lake Louise from the alpine meadows before you reach Helen Lake.

You can reach Helen Lake with minimal effort, but the views get better as you head up to the ridge above the lake. You start to catch glimpses what lies behind and beyond the mountains that surround the valley.   
Helen Lake with Cirque Peak behind it.

On the ridge above Helen Lake.
As you scramble up Cirque Peak, the views get more and more spectacular. Lakes and glaciers that weren't visible before are suddenly within your view. At the summit, you have a 360 degree view of everything, we could see numerous turquoise blue lakes, glaciers and more mountains! 

Part way up Cirque Peak. The ridge and Helen Lake are in the left part of the picture. Massive Bow Lake is in the top right.

Definitely a scramble up Cirque Peak.
Although my guidebook says the hike is moderate, hiking to the summit of Cirque Peak makes for a long day. It's probably on the more difficult end of the 'moderate' scale at 16 kilometers round trip and 1043 meters of elevation gain... 500 of which are in the last kilometer of the hike. There was one point (ok, maybe several points) on the steep, scree covered slope that I wanted to just give up and make my way back down. The rain clouds seemed to have caught up with us by then and I was worried about what the hike down would be like if everything suddenly got wet.  Luckily, someone mentioned the word 'loser', and I continued on.  

Panoramic shot from the summit.

Enjoying the views from the summit.
Group shot!

Going down a hike never seems to be as bad as I think it is, in spite of the steepness, with the exception of Skoki Mountain. Unfortunately, by the end of it, my left knee decided it did not like what I was doing and was throbbing for about the last 6 kilometers of the hike.  This, for the record, is why I hike with poles. My knee would have been worse if I had not brought them along.  
Lesson from this hike: Don't give up! Just keep hiking. It's worth it.

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