Sunday, 4 April 2010
Hiking Trails - Plain of Six Glaciers
[1 - Lake Louise in morning light - click to enlarge]
The Plain of Six Glaciers is located near Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta.
This hike is 14 km in distance, taking about 7 hours to complete depending on the hiker's level of fitness.
The trail begins outside the Chateau Lake Louise parking lot and goes along the north shore of the lake. From here it is about 5.5 km (one way) to the Plain of Six Glaciers tea house.
Elevation gain 340m (1,115 ft)
Max elevation: 2070m (6,800 ft)
Maps: Lake Louise and Yoho (Gem Trek)
[2 - Lake Louise and Mt. Victoria - click to enlarge]
The first 2.5 km of the trail are flat.
The trail goes through a subalpine forest, past the turn-off to the trail to Lake Agnes, then up a steep ridge crossing several avalanche paths.
[4- Ground Squirrel aka Chipmunk- click to enlarge]
These can be found almost everywhere in the Rockies, especially where there are tourists. (An eastern Canadian variety have spots between the stripes.)
[6 - Western end of Lake Louise where the trail meets the delta formed by silt from the glacial meltwater - click to enlarge]
[7 - Glacial silt entering the still water of the lake]
[8 - Looking back to Lake Victoria]
Here the trail continues in a moderate climb toward Mt. Victoria along a glacial moraine.
[9 - click to enlarge]
The trail hugs the ridge beside the moraine from Mt. Lefroy (left) and Mt. Victoria.
[10 - click to enlarge]
[11 - Lake Louise as seen from the glacial moraine of Mt. Victoria]
[13 - Western-most end of trail - click to enlarge]
Looking at Victoria Glacier on Mt. Victoria.
[14 - Death Trap to Abbot Pass - click to enlarge]
[15 - Avalanches are preceded by a big boom - click to enlarge]
[16 - Glacier calving from Mt. Victoria - click to enlarge]
This photo reveals the potential dangers of accessing the Death Trap to reach the alpine hut at the top of Abbot Pass.
The trail climbs toward the Plain of Six Glaciers and the tea house.
[18 - Pika]
These are usually very timid, and give shrill squeaks when spotting intruders to their territory.
[19 - click to enlarge]
[20 - Stream crossing on way to Tea House - click to enlarge]
At the bottom of the Shortcut Switchbacks there is a junction (elevation 1800m) leading to the Highline trail to the Big Beehive and Lake Agnes. Keep left. Here the trail stays level for some distance and passes along a narrow ledge before it begins a steady climb in the trough behind the north lateral moraine of the Lower Victoria Glacier.
[21 - click to enlarge]
[22 - click to enlarge]
[23 - click to enlarge]
[24 - part of the Plain of Six Glaciers - click to enlarge]
There used to be six glaciers, but now there are only three.
[25 - Avalanche chute on flank of Mt. Whyte near the Plain of Six Glaciers - click to enlarge]
[26 - View near Tea House of Six Glaciers - click to enlarge]
[27 - click to enlarge]
[28 - Hoary marmot]
These rodents live near the meadows along the avalanche chutes where it is common to hear them 'whistle' at intruders who come too close to their burrows.
There are several switchbacks on the trail with the fourth being about 300 m from the tea house.
[29 - Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House - click to enlarge]
The Tea House is at an elevation of 2100m.
Supplies to the tea house are packed in by horses during the summer months. The tea house was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1920s to accommodate mountaineers.
[30 - View from balcony on second floor]
[31 - Tea and chocolate cake - click to enlarge]
[32 - view from the Tea House - click to enlarge]
Close to the Tea House mountain goats can be seen among the rocky crags.
Beyond the Tea House the trail splits: a faint trail to the right climbs for 305m in 1.6km to a breathtaking view Mt. Victoria and the six glaciers. Here the wind can be quite strong and the trail slippery when wet. The main trail continues for another 0.4km up to the edge of the Victoria Glacier.
The trail continues upward along the valley cresting a lateral moraine which provides a viewpoint of the Victoria glacier below and Abbott Pass where on a clear sunny day the alpine hut built by the CPR for mountaineers to stay overnight, can be seen. It is Canada’s highest location for a national historic site. This is a rather precarious spot though it is the best place for a view to Abbott Pass between Mts. Victoria and Lefroy.
[33 - Map of trails to Plain of Six Glaciers (left) and Lake Agnes (right)]
Photo Credits: -meironke CC=nc-flickr, -Fred Hsu CC=flickr, -saeahkim CC=nc-nd-flickr, -http://www.flickr.com/photos/xaray/tags/canada/page3/CC=nc-nd-flickr, -Cleavers CC=nd-flickr, -isurusen CC=nc-nd-flickr, -Maggie T CC=nc-flickr, -totten photos CC=nc-nd-flickr, -Soul of Beer CC=nc-nd-flickr, -jackrutherford CC=sa-flickr, listentoreason CC=nc-sa-flickr, -subindle CC=nc-nd-flickr.