Valley of all lakes
I only had 3 nights to complete what I had in mind this time out, so when finishing work in Jasper it was off to the Poboktan Creek trailhead immediately. I hope no one thinks I’m divulging information on secret places here as the effort required to reach the place is quite simply beyond that which the average hiker is willing to expend.I don’t expect crowds here anytime soon, or anyone for that matter.
The stream feeding Poboktan Creek at the campground was the jumping off place for the trackless adventure to begin, and the forest was open and easy until a huge area of enormous boulders embedded in moss had to be traversed. The creek now lay in open flatland, meandering its way to split at the base of a towering headwall. The NE fork was my route of choice, and hopefully I’d be returning by way of the NW fork. Heh-heh.
A wrestling match with scraggly dense clusters of conifers took up most of the morning, but alas these gave way to talus fields, and the final agonizingly steep assault to gain Swan Pass. More a col than a pass, the wind tore through with such ferocity that I was on my way down the other side in a matter of minutes, just enough time to snap off a few photos. The elevation was 2650m. Several of the lakes came into view right away, but many more lay further down, hidden by the lay of the land.
A perfect spot to camp was found a short time later, and before long I was engrossed in watching a weasel in its attempts to catch some ptarmigan chicks in a boulder field, the chicks’ mother trying to distract and divert the attention of the weasel. I must have watched for over an hour, and I think the weasel gave up. The weather was picture perfect once again the next morning as I made my way through the rest of the Valley and its hidden wonders. Meadows gave way to odd rock formations and karst features such as sinking streams and sinkholes.
The hardest part of the trip lay ahead mainly due to its unknown nature, and that was to get to the headwaters of the NW fork of the stream I had begun the hike at. Mountainsides of moraine below the Brazeau Icefield were ascended alongside a creek which led to turquoise gems nestled here and there. Huge ridges of moraine led all the way to the bleak neverland expanse of East Coronet Pass(can you tell I made it up?).
This was about the same elevation as Swan Col, but there was much more room up here. Now it was time for the return journey, down there…below the pass. Extremely steep scree slopes led all the way down to an odd sort of ridge, and below that….cliffs. Yikes! The scree continued downstream towards my destination, but there was very little give in it as it sat atop a harder substance. Stepping and sliding downslope a metre or so was commonplace. I didn’t want to slide much more because cliff bands now peeled away directly below me. Hanging scree is what you’d call it I guess. Taking my time was an understatement to getting out of this place safely, a metre of travel had to be carefully considered before taking a step. Some hours later the way levelled out, the NW fork of the creek was crossed, and the endless descent through shrubs and various entanglements brought the loop to a close.
Story and Photos submitted by: John Boehm
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