The Skyline… Long before we ever started backpacking, we had heard great things about this hike and considered doing it as a guided trip. It seemed so risky to venture out into bear (especially grizzly) country with nothing but a nylon wall between you and the outside world – I distinctly remember being nervous at the prospect. In the end, it was the cost more than anything that put us off and that year we opted for a car-camping trip on Vancouver Island. It was only a year later that we ventured into the world of backpacking and really we haven’t looked back since then. These days, I actually prefer doing overnight or longer trips to day hikes – anything to increase the amount of time spent out of the city and soaking in what it means to be outdoors.
After a couple of overnight trips down in the Banff/Yoho area, we wanted to spend more time in Jasper, and Skyline was the obvious choice. Consider this quote from Kathy and Craig Copeland: “The human flair for getting up on our hind legs and not face-planting while we walk distinguishes us from other animals. Revel in that ability on the Skyline.” (Taken from their guide book, “Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies”.) How could we resist such a description? I like the books written by this husband-and-wife team – their opinionated style always raises a smile, whether or not I agree with them. Their focus is getting impressive views, and sometimes I venture out into the backcountry with a different set of priorities. But I digress.
Back to the Skyline. While our original plan was to spend our vacation week in Jasper alone, we wondered if some of our hiking friends might like to see some of the Rockies that keep drawing as back year after year. Within a very short time we were a group of six as Susanne, Brenda, Gabriela and Jeremy all came back with an emphatic yes. We made our plans to take three days, hiking from south to north, staying at Snowbowl and Tekarra campgrounds and paying for a shuttle to take us from our cars to the beginning of the hike. We headed to Jasper and spent a couple of days beforehand exploring and fitting in a couple of pleasant day-hikes (to Wilcox Pass and Indian Ridge).
Our itinerary was as follows:
Day 1: South trailhead to Snowbowl campground, 12 km, +550 m/-150 m.
Day 2: Snowbowl campground to Tekarra campground, 18 km, +550 m/-550 m.
Day 3: Tekarra campground to north trailhead, 15 km, +130 m/-990 m.
Total Distance: 45 km
Total elevation gain/loss: 1250/1690 m
Not exactly evenly split, and with all the best views on one day I was a little concerned that it might be less exciting than I expected, and pass in a bit of a blur. But in reality, it’s so beautiful that every moment was enjoyable. While the second day was long and tiring, I still felt able to take in where I was, and Be in the outdoors.
As ever, my usual “would I do it again?” criterion was met with a resounding Yes.