After a few years enjoying the Canadian Rocky Mountains almost exclusively via car camping, this year I decided to try backpacking for the first time. I’m lucky that I know quite a few people that have had experience with this style of camping, so I had plenty of support and guidance. My friend and fellow photographer Diego Lapetina ended up being the one to accompany me in this first journey, and after all the supplies and accessories had been purchased (which are very different from the ones used when you are sleeping beside your car, as you can imagine), we set out to a great weekend filled with fun and great pictures.
We set our sights on Jacques Lake, which is near Medicine Lake in Jasper National Park. In my opinion, this was a good choice. This hike is an easy one, for the first 8 Km in a total of 12. After you reach the Summit Lakes, the trail penetrates the forest, and becomes very technical. Lots of mud, roots and rocks make you keep your eyes on the ground. Keep going with it, for the views are magnificent once you reach Jacques Lake.
The night before we started our backpacking, we went to catch the sunset at Mt. Edith Cavell and I snapped these three shots:
We spent the night at Whistlers, and the next day we were ready to go, bright and early. The plan was to get to our destination with enough time to explore around it a bit, maybe catch some wildlife on the shores, etc. Our plan sounded great but there was a slight problem: I forgot to lock the car when we left the trailhead. After walking about 4 Km, I had a flashback and suddenly realized that had I never locked it after taking all we needed to spend the two days at Jacques. After some thought we decided that we should return and lock it. Once that initial 8 Km warm up was done, we were finally ready to start the trail around noon. But, c’est la vie, at least I took this picture on the warm up:
Not too long on the trail, and you will find Beaver Lake. Apparently this is a good fishing destination, with boats available for rent and all. We decided to stop and rest there a bit. Via an unfortunate series of events, the boat ramp then became the resting place of Diego’s 77 mm polarizer filter. Sad, I know, but the heroic filter gave its life to protect a much more expensive Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM. All things considered, with our camera gear mostly intact but not so much Diego’s pride, we moved on.
At the 8 Km mark, we reached the first of the Summit Lakes. A great opportunity for another break, since after this point and until our final destination, the trail got much more difficult (also by then we had walked 16 Km in total).
When finally we reached Jacques Lake, the water was very calm and the light was perfect. It was exactly what I was hoping for:
Diego went into the lake to get a better perspective.
Next morning, as we were getting water to prepare our breakfast, I spotted a moose. Ever since I have been to Canada I’ve always wanted to see a moose, but these guys are apparently very shy. A friend has seen (and photographed!) one in Elk Island Park, close to Edmonton, but I haven’t had such luck. We ran across the campsite to get our cameras, and had to circle around the bush to get a good angle. The moose noticed us and got on the move before we could get a good photo, but the experience is forever engrained in my memory. Such a beautiful animal!
After that amazing encounter, all that was left was to pack up and head back to the city. In the upcoming weeks, I plan to write about another backcountry trip, this time to Baker Lake in the Skoki Valley. Stay tuned!