Just another Rockies walk (Bald Hills)

4:57 p.m. on August 28, 2012 (EDT)
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Me and three friends met in Jasper for a weekend of hiking - nothing too dramatic, but some great views, a bit of exercise, and a wonderful trail or two. Two mountain tops in two days, but nothing much higher than 750 metres of elevation gain.

First up, the Bald Hills, one of my all time favourites. The trail starts at Maligne Lake, home to sightseeing boats that cruise its length filled with tourists (at $55.00 each), but quickly starts to climb following the path of an old fire road. That leaves the jeans-and-sneakers crowd behind and we were soon alone. Except for a deer or two...
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The trail passes an old corral and hostler's cabin
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then a long steady grind through the forest begins. A few views on the way up (see Opal Hills TR from couple of weeks ago - now snow-capped)...
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but mostly a steady slog. The gradient is steep, but not enough that you couldn't drive a quad up there if you had to.
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We met a second mule deer on the way up, like the first one quite unafraid and it actually followed us for a few hundred metres!
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Obviously, someone's been feeding them.
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The views started improving, and while the weather seemed a bit 'iffy' patches of cloud gave way to bluer skies.
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image.jpg After about 450 metres of elevation gain, we finally reached an old fire lookout. Here's where most tourists turn back, once they get a view of the Maligne valley below.
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image.jpg The REAL trail continues, though, crossing below a higher plateau, then heading for the summit...
image.jpg  It fades out on the tundra and eventually turns into a bit of a scramble. 

image.jpg Too late for the summer flowers, but nice views on every side.

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Finally, the summit...

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image.jpg and we stopped for a snack.
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image.jpg and a photo op or two. We were harassed continually by golden-mantled ground squirrels, who were so salt deprived, they actually tried to drag away a sweater and steal the packs.
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image.jpg Maligne Lake below, where the trail starts. About 700 metres of elevation gain over about 15 km.

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The section from the lookout to the peak adds only about 150 extra metres, but the nice thing about the Bald Hills is that you're not done yet! There is a nice little ridge to the east and north that lets you bag a couple more minor peaks before you go back down.

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Down one ridge, then up the next...
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More animals, this hoary marmot sunning on a rock
image.jpg had all the best views...
image.jpg Looking back the way we'd come

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then another little peak.
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image.jpg Views of the unspoiled valley on the other side of the ridge...
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image.jpg and still another peak.
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image.jpg A few last photos, then back down again...
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The total hikes takes about 4 hours but we spent some extra time on the top. Made it back to town in time for a swim at the local pool, and supper in town before returning to our campsites for the night.

Just another glorious summer day in the Canadian Rockies.

9:40 a.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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I'll take exposed ridgelines over forests any day!

10:34 a.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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stunning pictures Peter! very cool

10:52 a.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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rob5073 said:

I'll take exposed ridgelines over forests any day!

That's why I like it. The fire road walk is boring, but the rewards once you get there are great!

11:42 a.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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So the squirrels were plotting on stealing a pack? Hmmm...

I guess going heavy does have it's advantages. I could see them trying to run off with mine. 

Then running off to a chiropractor. 

5:33 p.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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They tried, Rick. Just watching one little guy tugging at a pack strap to see if he could drag it off into his hole was kind of funny, but the one who started nibbling on the sweater almost succeeded!

September 3, 2014
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