Mount St Piran: Yellow larches and snow

In larch season in the Rockies it’s pretty much obligatory to get out hiking. In general, September is hiking and trail running season. Tanya had invited us out to head out to hike the Devil’s Thumb, but once we all got to the Lake, the decision was made to go and do a proper summit – Mount St Piran it was. It was even in Kane’s Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies book!

First up is easy highway-style trails, the only challenge is traffic management as you hike in among so many other people.

But after we hiked past Mirror Lake at the foot of the Little Beehive, and past the turnoff to Lake Agnes, the crowds started to thin out.

As we started switch-backing up to the small saddle below the summit of Mount St Piran, it started to get snowy.  Well packed at first, but then increasingly slippery.

At the saddle, we finally met up with a group (from Rocky Mountain Adaptive?) who were helping get someone with a disability get to nearly the summit of Mount St Piran in one of their ‘TrailRider’ adapted one-wheel rugged weelchairs.

At the mini summit we paused for some photos and jumping, with the view down to Lake Louise below, looking resplendently turquoise.

Then it was onwards and upwards. Not far to the summit now!

The combination of cumulus clouds in the blue sky, snow-capped mountains, yellow larches, snowy terrain and Lake Louise were wonderfully beautiful. Also, hurrah for brightly coloured outdoor clothes – it makes for great photos.

The trail was much less well-packed to the summit, but it wasn’t far at all. It was a bit disconcerting though, as it was so poorly packed that you could still punch through the snow to a big talus hole.

Summit! And the wind had mostly died down enough that it was actually pretty pleasant. Amazing views, I can’t believe we’ve hiked so little here before (put off by the big crowds at the lakes below).

Then, to get down again, we’d decided to do a loop – back off the back of the mountain and down past Lake Agnes.

And because it was so beautiful, here are far too many photos from the descent.

As the terrain got steeper, it became more and more challenging.  Slippery. A lot of us slipped over at one time or another.  The boy decided he was better off with glissading the whole way, and thought the whole thing was amazingly fun, and way better than normal trails.

Glissading!  Thank goodness for waterproof pants!

We were hopeful that once we hit the saddle and left the snow, that it would be easier. But it was still tricky ground. Steep and loose, we switchbacked to and fro and I tried hard to convince the boy that he wasn’t allowed to just keep sliding down, as much as it might be really fun.

A few mountain goats hovered around on the slopes (not literally, although that would be awesome) – and watched us as we hiked by them.

Then finally, the terrain flattened out, and then we were at Lake Agnes, and back into the hiking crowds and larches.

The descent from there was fairly fast. And now the boy has two (the very easiest two I think) of the Kane scrambles under his belt.

And the added benefit of Lake Louise? There are plenty of pokestops and pokemon hanging out there if you’re hanging out waiting for people to arrive.

Distance: About 14.5km
Elevation gain: Around 900m
Time: About 6.5 hours
Figures in the map linked below are a little off, as we forgot to turn on the GPS straight away.

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