Exploring from Banff to Lake Louise, enduring the rain to get to the pass.
Moose Meadows Parking Lot to Fish Creek Parking Lot, July 19th – 22nd 2019.
The Sawback is a range of mountains in Banff NP, which runs almost north-south, paralleling the Trans Canada Highway from the Banff townsite to east of Lake Louise ski area. Hiking from Mt Norquay Parking lot to Baker Lake will take you through the heart of the Sawback (Mt Norquay is part of the Vermillion Range and Baker Lake is situated in the Slate Range)
I had planned out a route through the Sawback last year, that would involve a loop back to Mt Norquay, but an opportunity came up that would allow me to explore the Sawback all the way to Lake Louise. Ken, a fellow teacher (see Brazeau Loop for another trip I did with Ken) was planning on doing the trip with his brother. They had all the campsite permits booked, when the brother got injured and was not able to do the hike. Ken asked if I would like to join him on the hike. As luck would have it, the hike started on the last day I was teaching summer school, so other than a late start, I was available for the hike.
The plan was to hike from Moose Meadows parking lot near Johnston Canyon to the Fish Creek parking near the Lake Louise ski hill, camping at Luellen Lake, Badger Pass Junction and Baker Lake. With a short day from Luellen Lake to Badger Pass campgrounds, we were hoping to do a side trip up Badger Pass.
Similar to my Mystic Lake Hike, to make the point to point trip easier and to save time on day 1, we took my car to our terminus at Fish Creek Parking Lot the night before we left on the hike. This was important due to our relatively late start time on day 1. Ken’s daughter drove us to Moose Meadows, saving us from having to stop and pick up the car on the way home, and allowing her to drive the car while dad was away.
The hike is summarized nicely in Graeme Pole’s book “Classic Hikes in the Canadian Rockies”, in the description for the Sawback hike. The portion that is not summarized is from Larry’s Camp to the Ink Pots and then to the Moose Meadows trailhead, which we have both hiked frequently.
What we Learned
- trails marked on phone/tablet tracking apps are only approximate, intersections and campgrounds locations can be off by up to a km
- there is such as thing as too much rain
- an hour in the sun on an alpine pass makes you forget all the rain
- a tarp is great way to keep the camp dry
- communication is key when the going gets tough
- umbrellas work great in rain when there is little wind