One of the best backpack trips we’ve done – anywhere. And the weather wasn’t exactly great, providing a good test for some of our gear, and confirming the retirement of some well used items.
Prepare for lots of mud on this four day backpacking hike. The trails are also used by horses and are in terrible shape in many sections.
Day one of the hike starts at Mosquito Creek campground on the Icefields Parkway. The trail is not advertised from the highway, which seems to limit the number of hikers. Mosquito Creek is quickly a really pleasant trail with good views. The main problem (which got worse as the weekend rains came) is that the trail is a bridleway and there has been VERY little trail building or maintenance by Parks Canada.
The highlight of day one is climbing over North Molar Pass. The valley that you descend into from the pass towards Fish Lakes. The campsite is a bit disappointing in the trees, but the cooking ares by the lake is a great spot. Good views of Cataract Peak.
Day two was the long steady climb from Fish Lakes up the Pipestone River valley to Pipestone Pass. It’s a fabulous day and the views down the valley are excellent. Lots of muddy sections. The weather closed in as approached the pass, but then appeared to clear up as we dropped down from Pipestone Pass and then up over the Clearwater Pass to Devon Lakes. It was a little hard to find the trail over Clearwater Pass, and we missed a shortcut that would have helped us beat the storm that we could see was coming. As we went off trail to head to Lower Devon Lakes, it started raining. We decided to strike camp on the short of the lake, sheltered from the wind and driving rain. We hid out for a while with Kendal mint cake and whisky, and were pleasantly surprised when the weather cleared. We cooked a great meal in the evening sunshine and dried our gear, explored the area around the lakes, before getting an early night.
Day three and day four was the mirror image, heading back to Fish Lakes and then to the trailhead. We awoke at Devon Lakes to thick fog, and tested our navigation skills to retrace our steps back to the trail. The weather was better, but mixed on the way back, which is really the story of most of our backpack trips in 2016.
Check out our Google Photos album.