Distance: 27 km
Elevation gain: 800 m
After finally getting together in late 2006 Sandra ended up spending 4 months in France, so when she returned at the beginning of the summer we were quite eager to get out hiking again. Many trails in the national parks, however, were reported as being snowbound, so we chose a rather long one that is typically in shape a bit earlier - Alymer Pass via Lake Minnewanka. (We've since learned that the official trail reports, especially when it comes to snow depths, are always wrong and instead rely on the firsthand reports of other hikers).
The hike along the Lake Minnewanka shoreline is quite easy and very scenic, but does involve a surprising amount of elevation gain in the beginning. It's also prime grizzly bear country, and while there were no restrictions in place this year, hiking is currently restricted to groups of 4 with mandatory bear spray for much of the summer. There are multiple campgrounds along the shoreline too, starting at the turnoff to Alymer Pass and Lookout and continuing east along the lakeshore.
After 8 km on the lakeshore trail we reached the turnoff to Alymer Pass and started the 700 m ascent to the pass. While we found it quite steep and taxing, this was more due to being a bit out of shape than to the trail itself; overall it's an easy trail. The pass itself is quite large and the views to the north are quite spectacular. It's filled with marmots too, but they were quite timid, presumably as a result of the grizzlies in the area.
After a short stay the descent back to the lake went by easily, but the hike back to the parking lot was quite long. By the end of the day we'd accumulated over 800 m of elevation gain and about 27 km of travel, quite a lot for not having hiked in the mountains in over 8 months!
Category:Lifestyle and Recreation
Keywords:Alymer Pass, Banff National Park, Lake Minnewanka, hiking