Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Saddle Mountain (2433m) - Banff National Park     September 28, 2014

This was the long planned hike with my coworker. Since we were going during larch season I wanted to take her somewhere with larches. Also somewhere easy, as in not a super long hike or a scramble, that she could get to. The final condition was that I would prefer the hike include an easy objective I have not completed yet so I can bag another unique 'peak' and continue to get closer to the 100 mark. Saddle Mountain would be 94 for me if you include every 'peak'. So although I had thought about going to Mount Lipsett, I saved that for next year and decided on Saddle Mountain. Lots of larches and if they only got to the saddle that would work as well. More people were invited but not many more ended up going along, and those that did had to go slower so it was essentially just Heath and I plus my coworker and her husband. 

The morning started out much like the day before on Mount Whymper, very cloudy. It actually looked even worse when we got to the lake louise parking lot, but the day promised in the forecast to be better so we still had hope. We were lucky, the same thing happened as they day before, we hiked above the clouds in the valley and then they proceeded to burn off. Except today the higher clouds were gone as well and the afternoon turned out to be very nice indeed. No jackets on the summit for us. The nicest part was hiking through the upper edge of the cloud in the mist with all the dew on the larch needles and the thin mist swirling around us.

The dew was present on spiderwebs as well. I would never have though to take this picture but my coworker did and then I realized it was a really great idea.

Ascending through the edge of the mist was the nicest section.

We went through that section right when we hit the edge of the larches.

Heath going up the trail.

Larches in the mist covered in dew.

Again my coworkers idea for a photo. Dew drops on larch needles.

Getting above the cloud level.

I love on the second week of larch season when some of the needles have fallen off the trees already and create a carpet on the trail of golden needles. To me it makes the second weekend better over the first.

Clouds  in the valley below.

Heath going up the trail with Keara. Mount Fairview in the background. I've already ascended that one quite a few years back.

 Saddle Mountain from near the top of the Saddleback trail.

Top of Saddleback trail looking at Mount Temple.

Top of Saddleback trail looking at Sheol Mountain on the left and Haddo Peak on the right.

Top of Saddleback trail looking towards Mount Victoria in the far distance just peaking out over the larches.

Keara got to come on this one.

After a lunch break we started heading up Saddle Mountain. Everyone came because they were not very tired yet and it is only about 100 meters more elevation gain. There was mostly a trail the whole way up, except where the boulders got to thick and the terrain couldn't take a trail. 

Out of the larches.

Looking back at the top of the Saddleback trail from near the top of the ascent slope.

Mount Temple above Paradise Valley.

Sheol Mountain and Haddo Peak again.

Looking over at the actual summit which is only marginally higher that the high point you get to initially.

Summit looking west at Mount Victoria through the Haddo - Fairview gap.

Summit looking northwest towards the Lake Louise Chateau. Mount Hector in the far distance behind it.

 Summit looking northeast at the lake louise ski area.

Summit looking southeast at Castle Mountain.

Summit looking down over the southeastern edge of the peak into the entrance to Paradise Valley.

Saddle Mountain again after we descended back down. The walk back along the trail went by quickly. 

This was a good second trip since we both were feeling the effects of our first one this weekend. It was good to get out twice on such a nice weekend. If we had not had to meet up with people I probably would have been lazy and slept in instead. It wasn't even that crowded on the trail. Which was nice, because I am sure the larch valley / sentinel pass trail was just crazy. My coworker and her husband had a great time as well.

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