Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cirque Peak, July 28 2015

The plan to attack today was to reach the summit of Cirque Peak.  I woke excited for the day.  First things first though and that was to get my coffee brewing and take a cup of it down by the Lake to see the activity.  I owned this peaceful beautiful spot.  What a way to start my birthday!
Our drive to the trail head was short, we arrived early to see only a couple of other vehicles in the lot.  They looked like they could have been there overnight.  (As it turned out, they probably were, two fellows were tenting just above Helen Lake and were breaking down camp as we arrived).  The trail through the trees was uneventful and not the prettiest so it is just a matter of getting that over with and getting around that corner to where the views begin.
We remained vigilant to our surroundings as this is prime bear territory and the trail usually closes each year for a period of time when the bears decide they have had enough of the folks invading their territory.  We stayed loud and obvious.  The wildflowers were prime as we made our way through the meadow.  We could see our objective straight ahead, which is that light beige peak.

I love this area!  I know my most favourite places are those with wide open gigantic meadows all surrounded by peaks, ridges, mountains and passes.  This place has all that.  Cirque Peak looks so close at the end of the trail but there is lots to accomplish before getting anywhere near to the top. 
We arrived at Helen Lake and took a little time to refuel.  The clouds were rolling in and there was the odd sprinkle yet it did not look threatening.  We still needed to watch the weather for safety reasons.  A few folks passed us further back and they were already working their way up the right side instead of the light scrambling route at the front.
We followed the cairns that lead us to the route up the front side.  That trail consisted of light, easy scrambling with a few sections where hand placement was needed.  We took it easy and enjoyed the scenery the whole way up.  Here we could see how the melting snow created a waterfall which created this beautiful lake hidden high up.
As we climbed higher, we could see how that little hidden lake flowed down into Bow Lake.  The colors were spectacular.  The wind was wicked and it was pelting sleet slightly.  Yet it still remained nonthreatening so we carried on to the top.  When we arrived at the summit, the wind died completely and remained that way for our entire visit.  We chatted about how lucky we were that happened.
My birthday summit shot on Cirque Peak with Bow Lake kilometers below me.
This is my lunch time view.  You can see Helen Lake below on the right.
This is the view behind me as I sit perched on the Peak.
our group shot
After thoroughly admiring the views and dining, we began the descent.  We worked our way along the edge off the summit to the section where it would be straight down through the scree.  It was easy going through the scree with short steps and gently easy short slides.  We veered off the edge through a break in the snow instead of returning to descend through the scramble section.  This part was fun and quick.  At the bottom, we took a break to snack and check out where we just were which was at the high point on the left.
mother and child near Helen Lake
Once back at Helen Lake it was only a smooth long sail back to the trail head.  This was our view before heading back into the trees.  Nearing the end, we chatted about how lucky we were to have had no wind for our summit visit and that the trail was not busy.  We chatted about how fortunate we were to be able to complete this hike today without any bear issues seeing how it is prime bear territory.  Yes, our stars were still aligning for us.

As we were nearing the end, I could see through the trees that there was tape across the trail.  I have seen this tape before but I was never on the inside of it.  I then saw a sign planted firmly on the ground right at the trail entrance.  This was the sign!  The warden was standing right there.  I said "this sign was not here when we started this morning!"  He said he just put it there.  There were three grizzly sightings and a black bear sighting.  One grizzly was aggressive and charged a lady coming within ten feet of her.  
How lucky were we!  We chatted about our luck yet once again!  Remaining vigilant, staying loud and obvious paid off. Our day was quite amazing.  It was difficult work and well worth it.  The views at the summit were a grand reward and a great birthday present too!  We returned to "The Palace" for our last night there.  We devoured treats and beverages and then dinner.  We discussed details for transitioning from Banff National Park to Yoho National Park then called it a night.  Sweet dreams to be had tonight!


  1. Day 3 - unbelievably magnificent. Absolutely no better way to celebrate a birthday. My namesake lake may be small and not as pretty as some, but I am glad she was a part of your special day. Many, many happies to you!

  2. The view from up top is one of the best I've seen! Helen Lake is also one of the areas we saw a grizzly. We were having a morning snack by the lake and he snuck up and started munching on what we presumed was a marmot, silhouetted against the sky. It was quite the sight, but unnerving nonetheless!

  3. What an incredible place! Perfect for a birthday hike. I'm glad you didn't encounter any bears - or wind.


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