Following up on our season ending bike-trip recently, Lynn and I decided on a short three day backpacking trip to Molar Pass to officially put an end the summer adventure season.
With files at the Alpine Law office under control for the time being, I set my out of office notification early Friday morning and we depart Canmore en route for the Icefields Parkway. 1 hour 30 mins later we pull into the parking lot at Mosquito Creek Hostel. On tap for the day is a short and relatively flat 5 km trail, hiking eastward along the north bank of Mosquito Creek. The trail does gain some elevation and works its way in and out of forests and over gravel flats. The weather was good for mid-September, with overcast skies and temperatures in the mid teens. We arrive at the quiet Mosquito Creek backcountry campground after no more than 1 hour 45 mins of hiking. After setting up our tent and sleeping quarters, we scrounge some mostly damp kindling and get a nice fire going. While the weather here in the Rockies this summer has been mostly damp, the upside is none of the usual forest fire smoke and no ban on backcountry fires. We soon have the embers warm and are joined by a nice couple from Baltimore, MD.
After a colder than expected passing of the night, it dawns a beautifully clear morning with sunlight reaching the tent walls by 9 AM. After a delicious breakfast of home-baked treats and hot coffee courtesy of the Jetboil, we set out across the bridge and up Mosquito Creek. The trail itself bogs down in mud, roots and horsetracks for a short period of time before eventually rising above the tree line. A total of 5.5 km and 1 hour 45 mins of hiking bring us to the crest of Molar Pass , a broad expanse of alpine meadow with boulders strewn here and there. Under clear skies, a warm sun and no wind, we enjoy a very pleasant lunch and cup of tea. While this is a popular hike in the high season, today we have the luxury of having the area all to ourselves. Eventually we decide to pack things up and move down off the highest point (2270m) of the weekend. Luckily the warm sun has dried out the previously boggy trail, and we are able to make the return trip in relative comfort. Totals for the day are 11 km of hiking in 3 hours 20 min.
After a warmer night – due in part to better weather but also to adjustments in our sleeping apparatus – we awake to clouds and cooler weather moving in. All gear is repacked into the backpacks and we are off back down the approach trail, saying goodbye to the backcountry for the year. The rain holds off and the 5 km distance passes quickly as we move downhill. We arrive back at the car in one piece, and make for our celebratory lunch at the Deer Lodge in Lake Louise. All-in-all a very fine weekend with far better weather than expected and quiet solitude away from the crowds in a beautiful location.