Lake O'Hara Alpine Circuit
Day 1 of a three-day trip


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Distance - 11.2km Elevation gain - 840m
5:06 (moving) loop return

Our first day of a 3-day trip, due to the sketchy weather forecast for the following days, Laurier and I decided to do our big hike first.
We started with the ascent to Wiwaxy Gap.
The trail curves around Lake O'Hara then turns uphill and steadily switchbacks up 500m.
Due to the poor timing, we were stuck on these switchbacks in the heat of the day, and it was slow and excruciating.
The trail is nice though, and the view back to Lake O'Hara keeps getting better.
The trail report had said "snow patches", but we had to suggest they revise that, as there remained only a single snow patch, about three steps long, near the end.

Leaving the Elizabeth Parker hut.

The fire smoke blanks out the sky above the lake.

The start of Cataract Brook.

Cataract Brook.

The trail winds along Lake O'Hara.

Schaffer Ridge across the valley.

Looking straight down the hillside along an outcrop.

The trail switchbacks up the hillside.

The Wiwaxy Gap trail.

The trail loops through some exposed rocks.

The trail is marked with this blue-and-yellow symbol.

Lake O'Hara.

The view across the way to the Opabin Plateau.

Looking waaaay down to the Elizabeth Parker hut.

The view up to Mount Huber from near the Gap.

There are two people on the Huber Ledge trail here.

The broad view of the Oesa valley - Lake Oesa at top left, Lefroy and Victoria steps below, and Yukness Lake at the bottom right. Sadly all dulled by smoke.

Nearing treeline on the Gap trail.

Laurier hikes up the upper switchbacks.

Mount Huber rises above.

Looking back down the trail.

Laurier waits for me at Wiwaxy Gap.

The view over the other side of the gap.

We had a long, relaxed lunch at the gap, and I made thankful use of the pile of snow left over from a winter cornice.
In normal conditions, the view should have been spectacular, but unfortunately the smoke again killed all our distant vistas.
The valley on the north side of the gap is pretty uninspiring regardless, but usually the pano of the Oesa-Opabin areas and Schaffer Ridge is spectacular.
We then continued our trip, taking the Huber Ledges route to Lake Oesa. It's generally downhill, but does roll a fair bit.
The route is well-marked and pretty straightforward to follow with a little bit of attention. There are the same blue/yellow markings, plus some old ones.
We crossed several waterfalls, all of which were welcome breaks to soak my head, as it remained very hot.

The Wiwaxy Peaks west of the gap.

Looking along the Huber Ledges to Oesa.

Laurier lunches at the Gap.

Looking down the Oesa trail.

Pano from Wiwaxy Gap, centred on the towering Mount Huber. The more interesting part is the right, looking over the O'Hara region.

Laurier hikes the Huber Ledges trail.

Hiking the ledges.

Looking back up the trail to the Gap.

The first, largest waterfall from below.

Laurier cools off in the waterfall.

Laurier continues along the trail.

The waterfall flows down the chasm.

Looking back again up to the Gap.

The older Huber Ledges trail markings.

Lake Oesa beyond the trail.

Laurier hikes along the trail.

Laurier on a lower section overlooking Victoria Lake.

Laurier poses in front of Ringrose Peak.

Laurier looking up to Glacier Peak.

Laurier surveys the pano from Lake Oesa, past Lefroy Lake, Victoria, and the edge of Lake O'Hara.

The lovely, frozen Lake Oesa.

The sole snowpatch near the end of the ledges.

Near the end of the Huber Ledges trail, we get to nearly above Lake Oesa, and the beautiful still-icy lake fills up the view.
We hiked on to the lakeshore, and took another break at the lake.

Lake Oesa.

Lake Oesa and Lefroy Lake.

Pano of Lake Oesa from the lakeshore, with Mount Huber on the left, then Lefroy, Glacier, Ringrose Peak, and Yukness Mountain on the other side of the couloir.

The shore of Lake Oesa.

Glacier and Ringrose Peak.

Lake Oesa and the mountains above.

Ringrose Peak and Yukness Mountain.

The thin ice still remaining on the lake.

Laurier on the lake shore.

Laurier checks out the reflection.

More Lake Oesa reflections.

A look way back to Wiwaxy Gap.

Laurier walks the lakeshore.

Leaving Lake Oesa, we continued on the Alpine Circuit to the Yukness Ledges.
We followed the creek out to a small pond and then the south side of Lefroy Lake and up to the Yukness lookout. A trail joins in from below Lefroy Lake here.
Laurier stopped for a nice foot-soak along the way, while I trudged up the trail, and then we met again at the lookout over Yukness Lake.
The hike along the Yukness Ledges was uneventful, though one should note that while the net elevation gain is minimal, it rolls constantly, and the cumulative adds up.
We did pass a couple small snow patches here, but one was large enough and at a sufficiently steep angle as to be troublesome.
The trail eases towards the last section, and reaches some trees again as it turns to overlook the Opabin Plateau.

The Lake Oesa shore.

The small pond immediately below Oesa.

Crossing the outflow creek.

Laurier stops to soak his feet.

Looking down the creek to Victoria Lake.

Lefroy Lake and the edge of Oesa above.

The creek flows on to Victoria Lake.

Another look back to Lefroy Lake.

Lefroy Lake and the main Oesa trail.

The Yukness cutoff trai comes in across.

The trail continues up the ledge.

A nice section of paving stones.

Laurier leaves the lakes to hike up.

Looking up the Oesa valley.

Mount Huber rises above the colourful Lefroy Lake.

Lake O'Hara and Yukness Lake.

The main Oesa trail rises above Yukness Lake.

The sketchy section of slushy snow.

Laurier hikes on to the Opabin Plateau.

Laurier hiking along the end of the trail.

A mixture of Alpine Circuit markings.

We came in just above Hungabee Lake, and looped it to reach the West Opabin trail.
We then hiked down West Opabin and alongside Mary Lake to get back to the Elizabeth Parker hut in time for dinner and a crash.

Hungabee Lake in the evening.

Looking up (SE) from Hungabee Lake.

The West Opabin Trail.

Passing the always-lovely Cascade Lakes.

The creek above the lakes.

Cascade Lakes and Mount Huber above.

Pretty creek coming down West Opabin.

The end of the Opabin Plateau.

Laurier hikes the paved trail.

The creek flows down from the larches.

The trail starts down the slope.

A late view of Mary Lake and Lake O'Hara.

Photos taken by Rachel

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