Mr. GeoK and I ventured into the Highwood Pass again on Saturday. We first hiked Arethusa Cirque about 10 years ago, and have done the straightforward 5 km loop at least once each year since. It’s one of our “go to” hikes when we’re introducing other families to one of our favourite outdoor activities.
This year, for the first time since we started hiking with our kids, they opted to stay home – another sign they’re growing up all too quickly!
Just a few days before Halloween is the latest in the year that we’ve ever done this hike, so we were prepared for relatively deep snow and icy trail conditions. About 50 meters into the woods, we stopped long enough to strap on MICROspikes/crampons, which we didn’t remove until we were leaving the cirque to traverse the rock field between Mount Arethusa and Little Arethusa. And I donned my gaiters along that stretch, after sinking up to my knees for the third time! Overall, the trail conditions were pretty much what we expected – modest snow cover and some icy sections – and easily managed with the right gear.
We saw plenty of evidence that the hard-packed snow fell well before the larch trees dropped their golden needles.
Mr. GeoK’s hands got pretty cold when he took the time to attached a neutral density filter, set up his tripod and take some longer exposure photographs along the creek.
While Mr. GeoK came away with some great landscapes and panorama photographs, I was happier with my photographs of some smaller details.
We saw evidence of heavy machinery repairs to the unofficial parking area when we arrived. The other spot we noticed obvious flood damage was when we spotted a missing section of the trail as we descended from Little Arethusa towards the meadow.
Back at the meadow, Mr. GeoK seized the opportunity to capture a photo that would be very challenging (due to direct sunlight) in the summer season.
Highway 40 will close at the winter gates on December 15 (normal re-opening is June 15 each year). If you think you might like to do this half-day hike before then, please read this blog post for a more detailed trail description. And for the sake of comparison, on this outing to Arethusa Cirque we spotted one coyote, 4 bighorn sheep, 2 gray jays and a couple of guys eager to hit the slopes. At the parking area we watched as they strapped some sort of skis/boards to their packs and headed up to the bowl of the cirque to try to get in their first runs of the season. I wonder if they found enough snow?