I just returned from a trip to Jasper National Park’s Tonquin Valley. The weather was cool and damp, but it was good weekend overall.
Tonquin Valley 2004 Photoset on flickr.com | [piclens-lite-link]
July 1-4, 2004
Pre-trip camping: Whistlers campground, Jasper National Park
Thursday, July 1:
We started out on the Portal creek trail under cloudy skies. The lower valley featured a fair number of wildflowers. We lunched at the Portal creek campground under a light drizzle. As we left the campground and headed up to Maccarib Pass, the sun broke through the clouds for a while. Then as we approached the pass the clouds returned bringing rain with them. We didn’t linger in the pass because of the rain. The trail in the pass was quite muddy (gumbo) with some snow patches lingering. As we headed down the long alpine meadows to Maccarib campground, the sun broke through again and we had an enjoyable afternoon. Clouds rolled in again as we approached our campground, but the rain held off until everyone had their tents set up and tarps set up for our dining room. The mosquitos were very annoying although the rain and wind kept them away for the most part.
Stats: Distance: 20.1 km; Elevation Gain: 730 m; Elevation Loss: 213 m.
Friday, July 2:
Our objective for day two was to move camp 10 km down the Tonquin valley to our campsite for the next two nights. It was also the best day weather wise for the whole trip as you can see from the photo. We set off and after a brief walk through open forest, we reached the north end of the Amethyst Lakes. We then wandered along the east shore for a couple of kilometres. We stopped for lunch not long before we left the shores of the lake. The trail then headed uphill towards Switchback campground. Fortunately the switchbacks are after the campground when hiking in this direction. The mosquitos were bad again at the campground.
Stats: Distance: 10 km; Elevation Loss: 15 m; Elevation Gain: 118 m.
Saturday, July 3:
The day started off foggy and rainy following a night of rain. Many of the group were ready and willing to hike out to the cars but didn’t want to break camp in the rain. So we waited for a while. Finally we decided to do a day hike and almost as soon as that was decided, the day turned nice. We headed back down the trail a couple of kilometres and then headed off trail and uphill, ultimately reaching a rocky outcrop well above treeline where we had lunch. Then we scrambled upward a little more to another rocky outcrop. No mosquitos at these upper elevations. Half the group went higher still before descending to our campground. The other half descended from this point.
Stats: Distance: approx. 10 km; Elevation Gain/Loss: 500 m.
Sunday, July 4:
We packed up camp and headed down the switchbacks (they’re not too bad when you’re going down them) to the Astoria river valley. We then followed the Astoria river downhill until we crossed Verdant creek. Then we hiked gently uphill to our waiting vehicles. The weather started out cloudy but as the day went on, the weather improved. We all crammed into two vehicles and drove back to the starting point where the other vehicles were waiting near Mount Edith Cavell.
Stats: Distance: 14 km; Elevation Loss: 408 m; Elevation Gain: 46m
Total Stats: Distance: 43.7 km; Elevation Gain: 1394 m; Elevation Loss: 1136 m.
Edited: 2006-06-25 – Updated photo album links.
Edited: 2008-02-22 – Updated photo links to Flickr and the text of the story.