Snowy encounters at Lake O’Hara

Sally, Marie & Don, Margo, George, Dave, Barb, Laurie, Judy.

Sally, Marie & Don, Margo, George, Dave, Barb, Laurie, Judy.

Lake O’Hara Trip – Feb 22-24, 2013 by Laurie

This was my first club trip this year, and my second winter backpacking experience. Margo felt that as I did a fair number of close encounters with the snow I should do a trip report so here goes.

Our group of nine assembled and stayed overnight at the Fireweed Hostel in Field, BC on Thursday evening Feb 21st.  The Fireweed is a private hostel, relatively new and is clean, comfortable and well run.  Definitely a good stopping off point for any skiing/hiking around the Lake Louise and points west. We were out the door Friday morning before 8:30am and in the Lake O’Hara parking lot close to 9am.  George, Margo and Barb opted for pulks, while the rest of us shouldered our packs and headed up the road.  The sky was overcast with temperature around -3.  A skiff of fresh snow made for a relatively easy ski as far as glide went – and the 12 km went whizzing by (at least the first 4km).  There is a wee tricky bit from the Day Lodge to the Hut which gave me my first close encounter with the snow.    Don, Dave and Marie were the first to arrive at the hut and had snow-melted water ready for our tea.  After a brief stop for refreshments – the group headed out for a quick 2 hr ski to Mary Lake and around Lake O’Hara involving a bit of bush-whacking and nimble turns (maybe there is a reason this trail is not mentioned in the ski-trail guide). The frozen waterfalls at the other end of Lake O’Hara looked like a good destination, but was mostly hidden by trees & shrubs when we were underneath it. I opted to stay behind and handle the snow melting duties until a better water source was found.   Dinner, as always, was delicious and filling – appetizers, soup, chicken and spaghetti with brownies and rice krispie squares for dessert

There was a bit of new snow overnight, temperatures remained around -6 and light overcast as we headed out Saturday morning to ski to Upper Morning Glory Lake.  The trail is, at first, fairly open and gentle but there is a very tricky bit where my next 6 or so close encounters happened.  I could blame the soft snow on the side of the trail that swallowed my ski poles, but then everyone else had the same problem and stayed upright so I just have to say I love playing in the snow.  After trying to ski up to Linda Lake, I applied skins with Margo’s help (no one else needed them, sigh) then continued plodding upwards to Linda Lake where after a lunch break, the group split with Margo, Don, Marie and Judy going on to Vera Lake and George, Sally, Barb and myself heading back down to the hut using the Lower Morning Glory trail which comes out at the campground, up the road a bit, over the tricky bit to the hut (kept my skins on).  Another gourmet meal accompanied by the fruit of the grape and some malt beverages.  Sunday morning involved cleanup, and repacking, and out the door by 10:15am and then the much easier downhill ski to the parking lot… kudos to Sally for her first go at pulling Barb’s pulk all the way down (even on the steeper uphill bits).

This was my first time into Lake O’Hara in the winter and this area is every bit as stunning as it is in the summer.   Thanks to all It was a most enjoyable weekend.