Several weeks ago I joined 9 friends for our annual backpacking trip. This year’s excursion was a 5-day hike on the Tonquin Valley Trail in Jasper National Park. The trail is about 43 km long which we broke into 4 segments. As you come out at a different spot than you start, it does involve some transportation logistics, particularly with 10 people. Essentially you need to leave one car at the endpoint to shuttle drivers back to their cars at the starting point.
We were starting at the Portal trailhead which is on the road up to Marmot Basin Ski Resort. Our exit point was the Astoria trailhead which is on the road to Mt. Edith Cavel. Early in the morning I headed up the Cavel road and left my car at the endpoint. Garry followed me up and drove me back to meet the rest of the group at the Athabasca Hotel in Jasper for breakfast. About mid-morning we had a 3-car convoy head up to the Portal trailhead for the start of our adventure.
As I mentioned, we broke our hike into 4 segments. The first day we hiked to Portal Campground then carried on to Amethyst campground the next day where we stayed for 2 nights. On the way out we stayed overnight.at Switchback campground.
The first two days we enjoyed beautiful, clear weather.
When we arrived at Amethyst Lake, the water was warm enough go go in for a swim. It was beautifully refreshing on a hot day. Unfortunately, in the evening the wind came up and started blowing in smoke from the BC wildfires. It made for a hazy sunset.
By morning the atmosphere was quite smokey. 4 of us decided to do a day-hike to Moat Lake while the others opted to spend the day at Amethyst Lake fishing and relaxing.
By the time we got to Moat Lake the air seemed to be clearing a bit. The water was a bit chilly for swimming. We had a quick dip then dried off in the sun as we ate lunch.
Back at Amethyst Lake, later in the afternoon, the water had cooled somewhat from the day before. It was still warm enough, barely, to wade in but one really didn’t want to stay in very long.
That evening we experienced one of the highlights of the trip, a visit by 3 Mountain Caribou. These beautiful animals are endangered and the Parks Canada goes to great lengths to protect them. Luckily for us, the threesome didn’t seem overly concerned about our presence and spent quite a period of time munching delicacies in the meadow. That gave us lots of time for photos!
By now the smoke had really rolled back into the valley and once again sundown was a hazy orange.
The next day we hiked to Switchback campground and the following day finished up our adventure on this beautiful trail. In spite of the smokey conditions at times, the scenery was spectacular!