Saturday, July 16, 2011

Riots and Ramparts

My intuition told me today was going to be one of those "on top of the world" days and I have learned to trust that sense and today proved why I should continue to trust it!    Some phrases I would use to describe this adventure would be "larger than life", "epic" (length wise and scenery wise), "a multitude of WOWs".  I didn't know which direction to look, at times I thought to myself where on earth am I and today was so fulfilling and rewarding it was one of the very, very few times I was content with leaving my playground in the mountains and going back home to the big city at the end of the hike.  

Signs and trails lead the way to our destinations of Simpson Pass, Eohippus Lake, The Monarch Ramparts, Healy Pass and Healy Creek Trail and when all is said and done, we should have covered approximately 26 km.  This 26 km does not include the 5.7 km bus ride from Sunshine Bourgeau Parking Lot up to Sunshine Village where our hike began.   
Thoughts were that today would be grand with wild flowers but the grand vistas far out weighted the wild flower show.  I was still able to capture some color though.  
Once out of the trees and into the wild and wide open spaces, we could see another of our destinations off in the distance.  The long ridge that spans from end to end is The Monarch Ramparts and measures roughly three kilometers long.  I was looking forward to being on The Ramparts but we needed a break and time to relax first so found the perfect spot.
That perfect spot was amongst a riot of glacier lilies that carpeted the meadow beside Eohippus Lake which is at the base of The Monarch.  You never know who you will run into in these spaces! I saw a group of trail runners heading our way.  With affirmative answers to just two questions for them "Are you from Banff?" and "Are you Banff Trail Trash?",  I got to meet Leslie whose blog I follow.  We chatted a bit then they were on their way.
We finally made our way up on top of The Monarch Ramparts and had this view behind us of where we just were for lunch.  It's hard to believe it is the middle of July and a portion of the lake is still frozen.  I was glad it was, because it made for dramatic photos.
Further along The Ramparts, I found a great spot for my summit shot.  We're not really on a mountain summit but by now I was feeling like I was "on top of the world" so that made a summit shot worthy!
Every where I looked there were lakes.  Thinking back, I wish I kept track of how many.  
I do know I would have needed all 10 fingers to keep track.
Once off The Ramparts, we landed on Healy Pass.  At this point we were almost 20 kms into our hike and it was close enough to dinner time, so we made it our dinner time.
Once again we found a meadow that was a riot of glacier lilies and settled down for awhile!
The last leg for today was about a 7 km hike down Healy Pass Trail which followed beside Healy Creek.  This portion went by quickly and quietly.  I kept checking my 60CSX the closer we got to the end.  The display was approaching 26 km but by the time I arrived back at the car, it didn't quite reach the 26 km so I did two laps of a few cars to bring it up to 26 km exactly!  

Today was one of those days that I know I will talk about for a long time to come and will always remember.  I believe this is the longest distance I have ever hiked.  My only issue after 26 kms was that nearing the end, the bottoms of my feet felt tender but that went away as soon as I got the boots off and the sandals on.

Being in the midst of Riots and Ramparts was a great way to spend a Saturday! 


  1. The Healy Pass area is spectacular at any time. Near the time you were doing this hike I was on the other side of Mount Bourgeau visiting Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Pass. The latent snow pack is creating unique conditions this late in the summer. Wildflowers are late and prolific in well irrigated ground. I am very familiar with Healy Pass and area. The acres of terrain surrounding little Pharaoh Lake would be ablaze with wildflowers and your excellent photos brought back excellent memories of past hikes. It is an incredibly beautiful place to hike with a variety of terrain and many options for visual extravaganzas.

  2. We just did Healy Pass/Ramparts/Simpson in reverse on Sunday July 24th...A tad less snow and the flowers were still incredible!!! Your blog gave us the idea. Our trip was 28.9kms but we jogged much of exploring the waterfalls (we've named Eden)...

  3. How long did it take from Healy Pass down to the Sunshine parking lot? We're considering hiking this in the summer but I want to stay up later than the buses run (i.e., sunset), and I'm curious how long that 7 km downhill would take in the twilight/dark.

    1. Hi Clark,

      I just checked my GPX file for when I did this in 2011 and the last seven kilometers took 1:45. I did it again this past September for which I don't have a track but I believe it took a little less time. Hope this helps!


    2. It does help. Thanks! And thanks for your blog, you're giving me all kinds of ideas... :)

  4. Thank you, especially the last picture, I have used it for a painting. Years ago I camped on this spot in the summer, I have stayed here in the winter in a snow cave, and skied the Monarch Ramparts. I have visited many of your other sites as well and it is a pleasure to revisit them through your photography.


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