Through the woods to a grand pass.
Day 3 Brazeau River CG to Jonas Cutoff CG
Distance 18.5km, elevation gain 734m, 314 elevation loss, 7hrs 20min
A steady rain fell all night, but the day dawned bright and sunny. The first order of business was to try and dry the tent and tarp as much as possible, before packing them up for the day, which we did by tying them to the bridge over the North Brazeau River, which had the sun shining on it and was accompanied by a nice breeze. We ate breakfast and packed up, saving packing the tent as long as possible. The other members of the campsite had not made an appearance before we left just before 10am.
We quickly arrived at the junction to Brazeau Campground. We turned left onto the bridge, heading towards John John Campground and our destination, Jonas Cut-Off Campground.
This is caribou country, and Parks Canada has deemed this section of the trail off limits to dogs, Frosty and Ken were not amused.
The trail was forested as we headed up and around the east end of Brazeau Lake. We were not afforded many views of the lake, but there was one very good viewpoint that enabled us to see the entire length of the lake to Mt Brazeau and the Coronet Glacier.
A steady climbed ensued. As we gained elevation, rocks started to appear in the trail, making foot placement more important than in the area close to the lake. Through the break in the trees, I admired the rock formation on the flank of Mt Aztec.
We crossed John John Creek, and turned left to head up the valley it was draining. We climbed, mostly on a well graded trail in the trees above the creek. We soon arrived for lunch at John John Campground. While Ken and I ate our lunch, Frosty stood guard with a can of bear spray.
A father and son duo during arrived, coming from Pobokton Pass, during lunch. The boy was 12 years old, and they were doing the loop the other way. John John looked like a nice campground, but was not far enough for us, at only 8km from the junction to Brazeau Lake. We then bid good bye to our lunch mates, and headed back to the trail.
The trail quickly started to climb in earnest, gaining elevation quickly: a couple of hundred metres in just over a kilometre. This would be the hardest part of the trip, but it was over quickly. After gaining the elevation, we moved in and out of treeline, the flowers in bloom all around us.
We followed an unnamed creek up to its source as we hiked up towards Pobokton Pass. Approaching the pass, grass dominated the landscape. The wind picked up, necessitating bundling up.
We reached Pobokton Pass about 2 hours after leaving John John. The pass did not disappoint. The view down the valley exceeded 20km. It was utterly magnificent. Many pictures where taken. Ken and I were as silly as school kids let out for summer holidays.
For the next little while, hiking was interspaced with photo taking. This led to a little bit of drama on the trail. As I rushed off across the hills to get a particular shot, I left Ken taking pictures. While composing a photo, I looked over and saw was Ken lying on the ground. I assumed he was taking a picture at an interesting angle. After snapping a picture of Ken on the ground, I went back to focusing on the valley in front of me. When I next turned to look at Ken, I noticed he had not appeared to have moved. I started to walk back to Ken, then trotted a little quicker. It turned out that I had been incorrect in my assessment of the situation; Ken had not been taking pictures, but had tripped over a rock and fell down a hill, landing face first. Other than some scratches, Ken’s face was OK, what was more worrisome was Ken’s ankle.
Ken gamely soldiered on with his wonky ankle–what choice did he have at this point? We left the pass, and descended quickly back into the trees. It took about 50 minutes to get to our destination, Jonas Cutoff Campground.
We set up the tent, then put it upside down to try and dry off the floor, still wet from yesterday’s rain. We relaxed for a bit and Ken put his feet up, while I took pictures of a nearby stream.
We had a hearty dinner, complete with chocolate. There were numerous birds flying overhead, keeping Ken busy identifying them. We hung all our food up at the bear hang. It was a little hike up to the biffy. The campground was full, but comfortable. It was still light out when we headed off to sleep.