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lake O'Hara route - 10:30 bus

Huntersville, North...
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lake O'Hara route - 10:30 bus

We got seats on a 10:30 bus in July! Our situation - 50yo Mom, 13 & 11 yo kids. We were big day hikers (App. Trail) but sidelined for the past year due to Lyme so not as in shape as I was. I was thinking of this route: Lake Oesa trail, Yukness Ledges to Opabin Lake, over to All Soul's to get to McArthur. Plan to take the absolute last bus out. My concerns: Is that too ambitious - will we be rushing to get it all in? We don't stop to spend hours at a spot contemplating the meaning of life - but don't want to rush at breadkneck speed either. For McArthur, is high or low better for the hike in, same for the hike out? The Ledges - my son has a fear of heights and I'm not crazy about having my kids on ledges that a slip can be fatal - how bad are they (is it just the name??). What if it's raining - is there a hike that is better than others in bad weather? That last bus - do they ever run out of room and you have to hike out??!!

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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1. Re: lake O'Hara route - 10:30 bus

I have not yet hiked at O'Hara, so can't speak from personal experience, but I am going to be trying for my own reservations on the bus soon, so I am glad to do a bit of research on the hiking there. :-)

Note that on the YNP webpage for Lake O'Hara, the Yukness Ledges and the All Souls' Prospect routes are included in the "alpine routes" section, which are described this way: "There are five alpine routes above the O'Hara basin for experienced hikers who are comfortable with route finding, heights and traversing exposed terrain." Patton and Robinson's "Canadian Rockies Trail Guide" describes the Alpine Circuit (of which you are planning to do a portion) this way: "Yet, when the weather is fine, and the route is bare and dry, the scramble around this inspired route is surprisingly straightforward. But even under the best conditions, it should only be undertaken by fit hikers who are not bothered by exposed heights." Patton and Robinson also describe the descent from All Souls' Prospect as an "extremely steep descent (loose rock and ledges)." (Personally, I always find steep descents trickier than ascents.)

But a picture is worth a thousand words (so they say) - do a google search for "Yukness Ledges" and click on "images" and up pop all sorts of photos. From these, and from friends who have hiked there, I understand that there is a bit that some would consider slightly hairy, and I think if you have a hiker who is scared of heights, this might not be a good choice. From what I have heard, there are spots where the ledges are a couple of feet wide, with a long drop at the edge, but that the footing is good. So with the criteria you have given in your post, I am thinking that both the Yukness Ledges and the All Souls' Prospect routes are not within your comfort zone for hiking with your kids.

I just remembered also that there is a series of videos on youtube about hiking Lake O'hara, that I watched recently - here is the one for Yukness Ledges: http://youtu.be/ykB57lYsva0 The same youtube contributor has other videos that include other portions of the Alpine Circuit.

Using Patton and Robinson's guidebook, I have calculated your route at about 10.9 kilometres. I am not sure exactly how long the bus ride in takes, but assuming it's about a 1/2 hour, that gives you from approximately 11 am to 6:30 pm ... 7.5 hours. Of course, you will also want to have a little bit of a cushion, to be sure you don't miss the bus out, but still, that should be lots of time. (Patton and Robinson suggest 4 to 5 hours for the entire Alpine Circuit, and you are not doing the Wiwaxy Gap portion.)

I can't answer your question about whether the last bus out fills up. But I would imagine there are a number of people who, like you, are doing a day trip and will be planning to take that latest bus out. I would imagine that if there is any question about "bumping" someone, it would not be kids, but I think the safest thing to do would be to call the reservation line again and ask about this. (Call out of peak hours and hopefully it will be easier to get through.)

In checking the YNP webpages for Lake O'Hara, I see they have been recently updated and I can't seem to find the map that used to be linked there. I use this site for viewing online topo maps: …nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/toporama/index.html Pop "Lake O'Hara" in the search box, and it'll take you to the right map.

Interestingly, I notice they have added availability information now to the YNP website, and for the dates that are currently available to be booked (from when the bus starts on June 20, until July 18), only three days, June 20, 21 and 25, are not sold out.

Some more resources:

This page has pictures of both the Yukness Ledges and the descent from All Souls':


The other place I would recommend looking for further information is the Club Tread forum www.clubtread.com - do a search through "all trip reports" (one of the options when you click on the search button) for Lake O'Hara. Some of the reports get filed under Alberta, even though it's in BC, mainly because it's in the Rockies. There are some very good photographers who post trip reports there... hiking porn, LOL!

Hope this helps and happy hiking!

2. Re: lake O'Hara route - 10:30 bus

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