Sunday, August 16, 2009

SKYLINE HIKERS WHITEMAN PASS CAMP AUG 3 - 7, 2009 DAY 4 - How a planned trip to Azure Lake became a great ridge walk instead

Today my plan is to lead a group hikers to beautiful Azure lake - about 7 KM round trip but with a significant climb to a shoulder and then a descent to the Lake - this is also the route taken by those going onto Jamie's ridge and Marmot Pass.

I lead a group of seven hikers out of camp and up to Whiteman Pass and the shoulder which is visible from camp.

On the trail just outside the main gate. Who's that handsome guy with all the ladies. And they wonder why I suffer from stress.

We have now reached Whiteman Pass and are starting up the shoulder which straddles the Continental Divide between BC and Alberta.

The views start to unfold - looking here towards Red Man Saddle across from camp and above Cross Lake.

More views
Dennis with the camp some 1000' below.

It wasn't long after this that our first minor route finding challenge presented itself - there was some confusion in the trip reports as to whether you follow the more obvious track up and across the shoulder or turn off and stop dropping down towards the lake - after finding a great spot for our first lunch break with lots of flowers and views a couple of the ladies volunteered to checkout the main trail - it would be the route that we would follow towards the Lake but another challenge was brewing - I knew that one of the gals was having blister problems and was having trouble going over the rougher terrain and despite adding some more first aid it would continue to challenge us the rest of the day.

We finally reach the high point of the shoulder seen in the image below - the top of which is Jamie's ridge - we will later see some of our other groups up there looking down on us.

From here we start the tedious descent down to the lake but about half way a number of the group are having second thoughts due to the rocky terrain and blister problems so a decision is made to abort our attempt at the Lake and return to the high point and lunch and laze there. I too was becoming disenchanted with the trail so I welcomed the suggestion to alter our plans. Our first goal as a club on group hikes is safety and if some of the group are having problems them they must be met first.

We then spent an hour or so at the top - exploring some of the nooks and crannies at the top of the shoulder - the flowers were also in abundance - this little fellow - a rather large ground squirrel and a couple of friends entertained us on our return trip to camp.

It felt good to be back on the trail - we arrived back in camp in plenty of time for hot water and coffee, wash up and happy hour which was finally starting to take shape in earnest as you will see in the blog entry about that and the donut.

Next up - the alpine flowers of the region in bloom.

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