Within mere minutes of me voicing the words "Citadel Pass next Saturday" my friends were on board and the plan was in place! Today was an opportunity of new discovery for all of us as we headed in a direction we had never been before. Every time I hiked up to Sunshine Meadows and passed by this sign, I wondered what was beyond and hoped one day to find out! Today I found out!
If you are a loyal follower of "Making Waves on top of the world" then I will warn you that while reading this post you may need to settle down with a bigger meal & bigger drink because it's a bigger post due to being a bigger day. It was not bigger distance or elevation gain wise but everything else wise! Shortly after one kilometre and we make that left turn onto the trail to fabulousness, we have a view of the never ending meadows this area is known for and The Monarch.
The trail goes on forever.
Through meadow after meadow after meadow.
Gradually gaining & loosing elevation all the while.
We make the steep descent to Howard Douglas Lake. The smell of smoke we had at the beginning of the hike was disappearing but the hazy sky was sticking with us. Not enough though to not afford a reflection shot. We stopped for a very very short break here....
....before coming out on the other side to a wildflower explosion!
The views were expansive all day, and we were glad when that haze finally did lift.
There were pretty little creeks to cross.
We concurred we had our timing right with the wildflowers possibly being at their prime. I remembered about the "low down" I learned on Healy and went for it here. With no effort to a "low down", this is the reward you reap.
We arrived at the base of Citadel Peak where Citadel Lake came into view.
We knew we were not far now from our destination.
the view to my right from our dining spot
the view in front of me
After refueling, we explored a bit and played around.
We began our day way back behind those ridges and mountains.
The temperature was ideal, the breeze kept the bugs at bay,
I could have stayed here all day!
Short Stop and Making Waves
With still much more to see, we packed up and hit the trail for the return trip. I checked out the kiosk and then crossed the border into Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park first then quickly back into Banff National Park.
I swear the wildflowers bloomed even more while we dined.
They appeared even more spectacular on the return trip if that is even possible.
My energy level was not at its finest today but I still felt like I could soar.
I played at Quartz Ridge while my friends checked out Quartz Hill.
My friends are up there on Quartz Hill somewhere at a place I will check out on another day.
Once we regrouped, we aimed for the long trails that wind through the massive meadows.
This meadow was the proving ground for "hippy-on-a-stick".
Before exiting towards the intersection that would just about end our day, I had one final look back at this grand vista. The clouds came and went all day while the temperture rose to 25C. There was no drop of rain nor clash of thunder both of which were in the forecast. I agree with a "premier" rating for this trek as it left me wondeirng "am I dreaming" was I really there, was all that beauty for real? Pinch me!
With a bit of time to spare, we visited Rock Isle Lake first before checking in to get our token for the bus ride down to our vehicle. We were amongst the last remaining few who tried to prolong leaving the area. Eventually though, you do have to head home!