Lake O'Hara Hiking Questions

Mar 23rd, 2007, 04:30 AM
  #1  
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Lake O'Hara Hiking Questions

I'm trying to decide if and when we should make reservations for the day-trip bus to Lake O'Hara. We will be staying in Lake Louise for 3 night in June (22-24), then going to Jasper for three nights, and finally Emerald Lake Lodge for 2 nights. I realize I will need to make the bus reservations tomorrow if we want to go to Lake O'Hara on June 23. Our other choice is to wait a week and do the trip while we're at ELL.

These are my questions:

If we wait another week until June 29, is it likely there will be less snow and better hiking conditions?

Is it worth giving up our only full day at Emerald Lake Lodge?

We'll have our just-about-10 year old son with us. He's a good hiker, but I'm wondering if the all-day excursion is totally inappropriate for a kid. Would we be better off skipping it altogether?

TIA for any help you can give me.
Devonmcj is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 04:33 AM
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Correction - We'll need to make the reservation tomorrow if we plan to do the trip on June 24 (not the 23rd).
Devonmcj is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 05:56 AM
  #3  
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I just went back and reread all the great responses I got from Judy_in_Calgary and Bob Brown to my questions way back when I started planning this trip. I see that Judy already recommended the Lake O'Hara hike. So please forget my current question about whether we should go - that's a given. Now it's just a matter of when.
Devonmcj is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 06:17 AM
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The Lake O'Hara Reservation Line Hours of Operation may already have made your decision for you.

At this time of year (March 16 - April 16) the line is in operation Mon - Thu, 8 am - 12 noon and 1 pm - 4 pm.

As I type this, it's Friday, March 23rd, so I think you've missed the boat on June 23rd or 24th.

I was going to say that I did not regard a week's difference as a make or break issue. Still, at that time of year, hiking conditions do tend to become more favourable with each passing week.

Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 06:22 AM
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Oops, meant to give you the link to Lake O'Hara bus reservations:

http://tinyurl.com/269lp5

The phone number is 250-343-6433

Note that they operate on Mountain Time.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 08:12 AM
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First, the hike around Emeral Lake is flat, and not all that great. If you want hikes from there so you don't have to give up your day, try Emerald Basin. It is a 6 mile round trip and the trail leaves from the Emerald Lake parking area.

If you call for bus reservations, have your credit card ready because the reservation and the bus cost money.

If the line is busy keep trying and keep trying. One person answers the phone and it rings constantly for reservations.

The later in June you go, the better the chances of thawed lakes and melted snow.

Lake McArthur can still be frozen in late June. Not to worry, Lake Oesa, Opabin Lake and even part of the way to McArthur are good trips.

Also, the Ordaray Prospect, if open at all, is a good hike. That is one trail that is problematic because it crosses a bear migration corridor. The procedures for using the trail vary from full closure to being open to groups of 6 or more.

I went once years ago when the idea was to have people organize themselves into a few large groups - like 20. A warden authorized the start times, assembled the group at La Relais, mumbled a few instructions, and went elsewhere.

Result? It was like trying to herd cats. We had hikers strung out over a long distance well within the first half hour on the trail. Two bulled ahead and were gone. They were well out of sight. That defeated the whole idea of safety in numbers. So much for self regulation without authority.

We did not see a bear, although one man had his can of bear spray. I tried to keep away from him because that spray rides the breezes and can get anyone in its path. Yeah, the stuff works, if it hits the bear. Nobody talks much about what happens if it hits people.

I have yet to see a bear around O'Hara or McArthur.
brookwood is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 08:55 AM
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Thanks for the link Judy. I'll try for the 29th. Procrastination always seems to make decisions a little easier, doesn't it?

Brookwood, trying to herd cats, that's a great visual. We're kind of slow and we like to stop often, so we may have to bypass any trails where you're required to hike in large groups. OTOH, we seem to run into bears a lot on our travels. We've seen them in Kings Canyon, Yosemite, the Adironacks, and Shenandoah. Those were all black bears, though. I'm not even remotely interested in encountering a grizzly in the Rockies.

We're also planning on doing the Icefields walk, rafting in Jasper, visiting the Miette hot springs, taking the gondola rides, and maybe doing a horseback ride. I'm starting to reconsider the trail ride, though, after reading a few trip reports here. My son might be a little too young and inexperienced to handle a frisky horse.

I've read so many description of wonderful-sounding hikes, I'm not sure how we'll handle them. At this point, we may just wait until we get there to make our decisions.

We truly appreciate all the recommendations and stories we read here.
Devonmcj is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 10:17 AM
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Well, in the Lake O'Hara region, even the walk around the lake itself is nice. It is fairly flat as walks in the mountains go.

Even if you don't make it all the way to Lake McArthur, which is a beautiful place, even a walk to Schaffer Lake is rewarding because of the views.

The summer after I had my hip replaced in April, I was only able to make it as far as Schaffer; McArthur was out of the question. (I made it out there the following year, however, after I had recovered more.)

No matter, views are incredible.

In Jasper the Anglel Glacier at Mount Edith Cavell is my favorite. It can be long or short. As early in the season as you will be, the upper part of the Cavell Meadows trail may be closed to minimize foot damage.

If you can get up high enough to see the main body of what is left of the glacier, treasure the moment. At the rate of warming, that glacier will not be there much longer.

It has shrunk measurably since I first saw it in 1987. The tongue of ice back them nearly reached the floor of the cirque. The last time I saw it the tongue of ice lapping over the side of the mountain only came about one third of the way down. So the ice has retreated a couple of hundered vertical feet in about 20 years time. It may be even shorter now than it was the last time I saw it.

Also you will enjoy Athabasca Falls as you leave Jasper and drive south.

If you want a diversion, stop at the big parking lot on Sunwapta Pass just before you take the long curving drive down the pass to the valley.

At the low end of the parking lot, which is on the east side of the rode, your left going south, there is a trail that leads to a view point [sic] of Panther Falls, or the Falls of Nigel Creek. It is the highest water fall in Banff National Park. (Takkakaw is in Yoho.) I put a [sic] after "view point" because in the late spring, early summer, the falls gush water in a powerful torrent.

These falls are NOT visible from the parking lot. There is another waterfall across the valley, but it is not the one I am describing.

The spray from the falls can be a prohibiting factor. The last time I went I had on my full rain suit, complete with the hood over my head.

I came back soaking wet, which I am sure looked odd on a bright day. Some old guy sitting on the hood of his car in the parking lot saw me go down clad like I was ready for a monsoon. Then, when I came back dripping wet, he really did do a double take.

My wife was along, too, and she was just as wet as I was. As we walked back to our car she offered the helpful information that we had gone for a swim.
brookwood is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 01:13 PM
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Let's make that road. I rode down there in my car, but I was driving on the road - at least most of the way.
My wife drove some too.

No, we did not take to the weeds!!
Just went for a swim, or at least it felt like it. I tried to take a picture of the falls, but my camera would have been drowned. For that I would have needed a super big golf umbrella.

I often wondered if that old guy sitting on the hood of his car walked down the trail to see why and where we got so wet.

I can fantasize about him finding out the hard way, like getting soaked by the spray from the falls.

On the other hand, I am also fantasizing about him developing the energy to get up off the hood of his car. Perhaps hunger motivated him, or chilly night time temperatures.


brookwood is offline  
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