Hiking The Alberta Rockies - Helen Lake, Dolomite Pass and Cirque Mountain
This is a hike that can be anything from moderate (to Helen Lake) to difficult (peak of Cirque Mountain) depending on an individuals choice. To get to the Helen Lake Trail head you travel north on Highway 93 towards Jasper (not the south 93 to Radium like our leader did :). Follow the highway until you come to a lookout for Crowfoot Glacier and then take the parking lot on
the east side. The trail winds around a high rocky ridge heading south until you round the bluffs on the south end and begin to head north again. The trail climbs steadily along this Crowfoot Glacier are quite impressive
As we treked along the tral there were rough rock mountains on both sides of the valley with broken ramparts of stone on top. There was a grizzly on the trail but we merged with several other groups which had stopped because of him, started singing and yelling, and by the time we got around the corner of the trail where he had been he was long gone. On the way down hike and approx 600 meters elevation gain in total. We stopped there for lunch and a rest. Dolomite Pass is only about one more km away and a hundred meters more elevation gain. From Dolomite Pass you can look to the north and east over a wide valley of lakes and high alpine meadows.
After climbing to Dolomite Pass a few of us decided to start to hike up Cirque Mountain. I wanted to go part way up in order to get a picture of Bow Lake and had to be higher than the mountain ridge to the west. As we climbed some turned back because of the steepness of the trail. In the end it was my daughter, dog, Greg and Myself that actually made it to the peak. Kovu (dog) was not too impressed with scrambling up scree and over small cliffs but he made it with us. Three quarters of the way up I got an impressive picture of Bow Lake and Bow Glacier and then took the last three pictures in my roll from the peak. The views were incredible and the awesome majesty of our mountains and the incredible beauty of God's creation is shown. The climb to the peak of cirque mountain will take an additional hour or two over the rest of the hike. Our total time on this trail was seven hours but it could be done in about five or 6.
When I got to the peak all I could say was "Oh My GOD!!!" The view is overwhelming. This was my first "scramble" and I will be doing more - to be able to turn around and see over top everything in sight is and experience like none other.