Maybe, I should have labelled this post Mount Disappointment. Chatting with some fine folks down by Patricia Lake, yesterday, we had been made aware of a trail named Sulphur Skyline. It was an 8 km round trip hike up to a mountain summit with some incredible views. Hell, we were in. We had been hiking at elevation for the past 3 days and were as ready as we would ever be.
The trailhead was adjacent to Miette Hot Springs, which we knew were closed, but we had hoped the Miette Road would still be open. As we turned off Highway 16 by Pocahontas Cabins, all looked good, but about 3 km. in, we found gate barriers across the road. Hmmmm. What to do? I suggested we head back toward Jasper and hike the North end of the Overlander Trail to see what we had missed the day before.
I have already talked about this trail in a previous post. Certainly, the 65 meter elevation gain was much less than the 666 meters promised on the Sulphur Skyline, but, the views would not be nearly as magnificent.
The trail started as more of a road, just like the South end, except the upward climb was pretty steady here.
At the top of the first uphill stretch, we walked out to a great view of the Athabasca River valley below. Ahhhh, at long last, here were the promised views. We lingered to take them in.
Rested and satisfied, we headed back out on the trail, hiking across the open meadow and into the forest, past high rock faces and out to another viewpoint. We could get used to this.
On the other side of the viewpoint, we found ourselves on a bit of a mountain goat path. With the shifting gravel under foot and the views beside us, care was needed not to step off the path and on down the slope.
We soon found ourselves in a section of forest where a wildfire had passed through a few years before. New growth was happening amongst the old snag trees and there was a bright green carpet of moss in places.
Soon, another viewpoint opened up right where the Athabasca and Snaring Rivers meet. Looking across, we spied the “Sandhill” where we always used to stop to let our boys play, when they were much younger. Funny seeing it from this point of view.
A bit more hiking and we soon found ourselves at our turn around point….
….the “Viewpoint” about 5 km in from the trailhead. We stopped here for our picnic lunch and met up with the only other people we saw on the trail, a couple of mountain bikers. They were headed in the direction from which we had just come, so at least they knew we were on the trail and they said they would try not to run us over on their way back. Good to hear.
Lunch eaten, views soaked in, it was now time to head back the 5 km we had just walked, as we had a 4 hour drive home ahead of us. It is amazing how you can see different things when you simply walk in the opposite direction.
We did not pause long on the downward trail, as it would seem the mosquitoes had finally found us. Just long enough to apply some Deep Woods Off and then we set off at a quick pace. Total distance hiked was about 10 km (6.25 miles) and only 65 meters (213 feet) of elevation gained. A good second choice hike.