Distance: 12.5 km
Elevation gain: 790 m View map Download GPS track
We woke up today to somewhat less smoky skies than yesterday, but it was still too smoky for a big hike where I’d have more asthma trouble than views. Instead we decided to head to Lake Louise and hike up Devil’s Thumb, a relatively short and easy scramble above Lake Agnes.
We were a bit slow getting going and when we arrived at Lake Louise at 8:00 am the parking lot was nearly full! I certainly wasn’t expecting solitude, but I hadn’t expected it to be a zoo so early, and as we started out we had to dodge, often literally, through a herd of at least 100 tourists along the lakeshore. The crowd thinned a bit as we turned onto the Lake Agnes trail and Sandra set a blistering pace as we passed several dozen more on our way to the teahouse.
Thankfully nearly everyone stopped at the teahouse, and consequently the hiking became substantially more pleasant as we continued around the lake and up the switchbacks to the Big Beehive – Devil’s Thumb saddle. We turned right onto an obvious trail blocked by a giant fallen tree at this point and quickly arrived at a short cliff band. Thankfully there was no exposure and we had no real difficulty with it. We also teamed up with a hiker at this point who was slightly out of her comfort zone, but was determined to reach the top. As she’d ascending Mount Temple last week I was fully confident she’d do just fine, but was happy stick together as a group for the added confidence and safety.
Above the cliff band we contoured around the southern cliffs of Devil’s Thumb on excellent trail. While the drop to the left was never vertical, the steepness of the slope gave it a real sense of exposure. Shortly we reached a wide, steep gully and powered our way up using several criss-crossing bits of trail. The poor footing in the gully makes it the crux of the trip. At the top of the gully we turned to the right and easily picked our way up blocky rock to the broad summit of Devil’s Thumb. The view was smoky, as expected, but the most spectacular views – the peaks at the head of Lake Louise and Lakes Agnes and Louise – were close enough that the smoke did little to detract from them.
We took some photos, then sat down for a break and started chatting with another couple on the summit. They thought they recognized us, and it didn’t take long to figure out that they were regular readers of this website and that we’d probably crossed paths before! Despite the absurd crowds at Lake Louise, it’s a small world on any summit.
Eventually we all made our way back down to the teahouse and onwards to the parking lot, passing hundreds of others en route. Despite the crowds lower down this was a great little scramble for a smoky day!