Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hiking in Kananaskis: Galatea

It was a brilliant blue sky and temperatures were nearing 24 degrees celcius. A perfect hiking day. This hike covers Galatea Creek, Lillian Lake and the two Galatea Lakes.

The trail to Galatea starts by crossing a bridge over the Kananaskis River. It then romps up Galatea Creek canyon, where we enjoyed some of the most folkloric creekside hiking K-Country had to offer. Along the 12.6 km route, it crosses foot bridges over Galatea Creek nine times, with a rock cliff along the river. We heard the sound of rushing, running, and trickling water along almost the entire route.

About 3 hours and 500 metres elevation brought us to Lillian Lake, pretty, but unassuming. Thickly girdled by trees, she's merely the maid answering the door for the lovely ladies of the house -- the Galatea Lakes. And it's an opulent house: an alpine basin ringed by immense peaks. (1)

To reach the middle lake, we had to continue past Lillian Lake a further 1.2 km and 200 metre elevation. I found portions very steep and quite difficult, complicated by the large stones and scree. The reward is the brilliant glacial turquoise color of the lake as we crested the hill.

We parked on boulders. I chose a large one just at the edge and promptly soaked my feet in the icy water. A hallowed out spot on the top was my own personal reclining chair – a perfect fit. I was grateful that I’d packed a large, healthy lunch and it disappeared quickly.

After lunch we took another 20 minutes to pick our way across the scree which surrounded the lake and braved another 75 metres elevation up to the upper Galatea Lake.

The trip back to the trailhead was steady and less strenuous, but I had become dehydrated and experienced significant leg cramping. Hydrating, stretching and a couple of Advil helped make it manageable.

We started the trail at 8:45 am, taking lots of photos along the way and stopping whenever we felt necessary. We were back at the trailhead at 4:30 pm. See more pictures here.

A long hike, fabulous views and good company.

(1) Some descriptors provided by Craig Copeland, Calgary Herald, Sept. 7, 2007.

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