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By the end of the week, the casualty rate was running around 10-15% - a few people had blisters, and I'd had to send one woman home for being disruptive. Everybody was tired, and when one old guy announced on Friday evening that he would be leaving after Saturday's hike, another couple of people decided to leave with him. Only one person managed to do the whole tour with me from start to finish.
Despite that, the hike we had booked for Saturday morning to Cavell Meadows went ahead as planned. The last lookout tops out at 540 m elevation gain, so we got some exercise anyway.
Even with a 10:00AM start, we were done by around 2:00PM and everybody except two of us headed back for Edmonton.
Ever have one of those trips you just don't want to end? We decided just to do an easy walk at the Valley of the Five Lakes to wrap up the day. The whole loop is maybe 8 or 9 km, and total elevation gain is only around 60 m, but it was still better than souvenir hunting in Jasper!
One interesting note:
As we hiked the link from trail 9 to 9A, we heard voices in the bush, and three young kids (12 years old?) appeared exclaiming 'We found the trail!". They said they'd taken a 'shortcut' and wound up doing some serious bushwhacking to get out. Since they seemed to be alright (and somewhat chastened by their adventure) we left them to make their own way back.
A minute or two later, we heard people yelling ahead of us, calling out names. When we met them on the trail we found a group of adults and kids, looking for their missing sons. I hollered, and the boys came up the trail to reconnect with their parents. We walked on, laughing at the sounds of the kids being disciplined behind us. Hopefully the parents learned something, too, about not letting children wander off alone.