Today, we planned on doing a loop to the Monarch Ramparts. By my planning, it was a 21 km circuit with a 700 m height gain. But I blew it; it was actually a 25.6 km circuit with a 1,130 m gain (I misread Patton & Robinson's book, and lost a 4 km section from Simpson Pass to Healy Pass). We caught the 9 AM bus, and started hiking at 9:30, and just barely made the 5:30 PM bus down.
We ran into a very nice lady on the bus who was solo hiking our route but doing the loop part backwards, and not coming back to Sunshine but hiking down Healy Creek to the Sunshine parking lot. More on this later.
The hike starts with a climb out of the ski area up and over Wawa Ridge, offering views on the way up of Mt. Assiniboine over the ski runs...
|Part the way up Meadowlark run|
|The ridge on the left with the slight snow band is the goal|
The trail trucks on through the valley finally intercepting the Continental Divide boundary marker at Simpson Pass.
|BC on the left, Alberta on the right|
|Lakes in the high country|
|The Monarch on the left, the Ramparts in the middle|
|Flowers everywhere you look|
|Flowers, plus The Ramparts on the right, the Monarch centre|
|Lakes in the valley and easy walking on the Ramparts|
|Goat's Eye on the left, Divide on the right|
|The rock glacier on the mountain|
|A close up|
|On the descent. The Monarch, up close and personal|
|Eohippus Lake under the Monarch|
|This dude let me come within 3'|
|Normally they sit still. He didn't.|
|The card on the top is 9" long|
- I would NOT "reverse" the direction. I would stick with Mike Potter's route, going Sunshine to Simpson Pass to Healy Pass to the Ramparts. Do NOT go Sunshine to Simpson Pass to Eohippits to the Ramparts to Healy Pass.
- I would NOT go down the Ramparts all the way to Eohippus Lake. I WOULD wander the Ramparts down the ridge towards the Monarch, but I would turn before as the trail descended into the trees (and the views went to crap). That's the best part of the trail, and the descent to Eohippus adds nothing but time, distance and problematic trail finding;
- I would debate the choice between descending at the end of the day to the parking lot via Healy Creek, versus climbing back up and over Wawa ridge to get back to Sunshine. That last 200 m grunt up was painful at the end of a 26 km day. The downside to heading back to the parking lot is that it's an additional 2.5 km of hiking. But it's all downhill. You gotta make the call based on how you're feeling, and where the cold beer is.