Category Archives: backcountry

Waterfalls — Poboktan

Waterfalls — Poboktan: Off-trail fashion.

There I was, at the horse gate just before Water­falls camp­ground. My plan was to ascend a steep slope along the creek (left side climber view). The pine for­est was quite open with few dead­falls on the ground, I quick­ly got to the top.


Once there, trav­el­ling was easy. Keep­ing with­in earshot of the creek I nav­i­gat­ed effort­less­ly in the mixed for­est. The moss cush­ion was a lit­tle thick­er yet progress was fast as there were open lines all along. In time I came to a bot­tle­neck and got back to the creek, soon I was cross­ing in search of new­ly col­o­nized ground where the veg­e­ta­tion made walk­ing thru the low­er mead­ows much eas­i­er. The mis­sion: escape the wil­lows if I could.


My goal was to get to the top of the val­ley. From there on I could ascend a shoul­der towards a sis­ter of Mt-Pobok­tan, and while I nev­er rushed any­thing I got there ear­ly, set­ting camp with plen­ty of time to spare. There was a great gold­en hour in the mak­ing and the light was per­fect.


The next day I went up a ramp, it took me about two and a half hours to get to the top. There where great views on the Water­fall Peaks and even bet­ter ones down towards the Swan Lakes (unof­fi­cial name). It would take me anoth­er day and a half to get to the lakes.


An easy tra­verse below the peak got me smack in front of Poboktan’s North face; and while I made my way down on a mod­er­ate­ly steep rib it seemed to grow taller and taller. I took a break by a tarn; and those who know the moun­tains won’t be sur­prised to learn that every­thing was still­ness.


Down the steep mead­ows and fol­low­ing the creek, I wait­ed until the bank got steep­er. I then cut into anoth­er easy pine for­est. No point to stay high up as I knew I would soon face a nasty rock slide sev­er­al km long. So, once again I fol­lowed the col­o­niza­tion line and made my way near the Brazeau. Not being fond of silty water I pre­ferred stay­ing on the rock side where I found a creek emerg­ing from the under­ground. It’s water was per­fect. Camp­ing in the shad­ow of an errat­ic, I could hear the song of a riv­er less than a hun­dred meters away.


The next day came a long chal­leng­ing angling up val­ley. Fol­low­ing the rock slide and hug­ging the for­est I crossed numer­ous errat­ic fields, most of them filled with debris. Wise peo­ple would have fol­lowed the riv­er instead, but since I am not one of them I went up the hard way. I gained ele­va­tion labo­ri­ous­ly and the views got spec­tac­u­lar. Grey lime­stone walls across the val­ley, silty blue waters, the deep green of the pines in between; and a cou­ple of tiny azure lakes dot­ting the land­scape. Once the rock slide sub­sided, the for­est took over once again. Not want­i­ng to get cliffed out I stayed on a bench, then there was this amaz­ing water­fall. I was mak­ing progress, slow­ly.


I knew exact­ly the way to the lakes, the famil­iar sight of a gigan­tic errat­ic marked the way, but before I went up the drainage (left side climber view) I caught glimpses of the majes­tic NW Brazeau gorge. That’s a trip I did ear­li­er in the sum­mer, com­ing in the oth­er way.

A glacial flat, and not so far in the dis­tance the low­er of the lakes. Near­ing the end of August the mead­ows where ripe, you could almost smell the fast approach­ing fall. A mag­ic gold­en hour lat­er I was more than like­ly snor­ing in my tent.
Up just before the sun­rise, guess what I did for the first hour? I had lots of time to spare so I packed up and went to one of the mid­dle lakes from where I tack­led a drainage up to about 2800 m. I want­ed to be on the oth­er side before the end of the day and at about four pm I strapped my pack on and crossed over the col. Anoth­er camp­site, with such a late start I near­ly missed per­fect light time.


Every­thing from there on is casu­al. It took me about two hours to pick my way down in a some­what nasty Engel­mann spruce for­est (down the creek right side climber view), and then the riv­er flat to the faint Swan pass trail, and fresh griz­zly drop­pings. Once back on the Pobok­tan trail there was only eight km to go. I got back to the car on the ear­ly side of a beau­ti­ful August day. I had been away for six days.

My boots nev­er got wet.

Gaston Synnott
Gas­ton Syn­nott — Author

This sto­ry is brought you by Gas­ton Syn­nott, thank you for shar­ing your expe­ri­ence with us and hope it will moti­vate some oth­ers to get out and enjoy the back coun­try of #myjasper #jaspernp #explore­jasper.  We wel­come more of these sto­ries, so feel free to con­tact us and sub­mit your adven­tures!


Geraldine Lakes

The water falls are what most peo­ple go to see. but if you ven­ture on to the upper lakes, you will be blessed with more spec­tac­u­lar views. Beau­ti­ful green lakes and rugged ter­rain makes this a clas­sic half day hike or overnight camp­ing.

Mina pos­es for the cam­era
These water­falls are run­ning at full capac­i­ty

The lakes over­flow into the trails that is caus­ing the mud­dy trails you will encounter and the last part of the trail to the camp­site is most­ly under water. Even the entrance to the camp­site was under­wa­ter.

water­falls are amaz­ing

If you don’t like to camp where camp­fires are not allowed, this is one of those places to stay away from. The ter­rain is mud­dy, rooty, packed and rock falls. The trail dis­ap­pears in the rock falls but there are lots of cairns to show you the way

Just won­der­ful views

To note that there are only 4 tent pads and only one camp site for Geral­dine Lakes. So book ear­ly at the Parks infor­ma­tion build­ing in Jasper. The site is equipped with two pic­nic tables and a bear pole to string up your food.

Lakes are cold and refresh­ing

There was Hoary Mar­mots and Por­cu­pines spot­ted on this par­tic­u­lar hike. If you are an expe­ri­enced camper in the rock­ies, you know what Por­cu­pines like, so don’t leave your items lay­ing around.

When the lakes are full the trail is mud­dy

Access: Geraldine/Fryatt Road (31km from Jasper)

From Jasper: Approx­i­mate­ly 25 min­utes dri­ve

Park­ing: Yes

Trail­head: 6km up a fire road to park­ing lot

Dis­tance: 6 Kilo­me­ters, approx. 3 — 4 hours

Ele­va­tion Gain: approx. 600m

Activ­i­ties: Hik­ing / Camp­ing


Vine Creek

The Celes­tine Road recent­ly opened to traf­fic for the sea­son, I was asked what is there to do up that road? Vine Creek popped into mind. This hike is rarely used to my knowl­edge, and the last time I went, it was over­grown with bush­es.

Crossing the stream, low water that year
Sur­vey­ing the dry creek cross­ing
Deliv­ered John to the trail­head


John Boehm
John Boehm has been a great con­trib­u­tor to Explore Jasper sup­ply­ing adven­ture sto­ries. Use search for his sto­ries on this site.
Evi­dence of pre­scribe burn
Vine Creek
Vine Creek

I’m not even sure if there is a warden’s cab­in at the head­wa­ters of Vine Creek left. If you would not mind send­ing me (Explore Jasper) a pho­to if you get to the end of the trail, I real­ly appre­ci­at­ed.

August 2011