We spent Saturday (our Sabbath) in Canmore, enjoying a nice walk through downtown in the afternoon. When we had checked into our room on Monday afternoon, I noticed a black and white rabbit hopping around outside, and correctly inferred that it was a domestic rabbit, as wild rabbits are brown (other than the winter morph of the snowshoe hare). On Saturday afternoon, I noticed additional rabbits hopping around town, and saw some establishments that had placed pans of water out for them. I later learned that the rabbits date from the 1980s, when someone released them. They are considered undesirable, out of fear that predators will enter Canmore to eat the rabbits, and possibly then endanger dogs or even people.
Canmore is allegedly trying to eradicate the rabbits, but their efforts haven’t accomplished much other than waste money, and there are many rabbit lovers who oppose the efforts.
On Sunday, we returned to Banff, driving again to Sunshine Village. This time, we weren’t contemplating taking the shuttle bus to the easy Garden Path Trail, but instead had set our sights on the moderate/difficult Healy Pass and Simpson Pass hike.
We began hiking southwest on the Healy Pass Trail:
The trail began passing through a wooded area:
We soon crossed over Sunshine Creek:
There were a few colorful wildflowers, as can be seen in this (mostly-unfocused) photograph:
The trail continued, running parallel with Healy Creek, though the water wasn’t always visible. After 5.9 km (3.7 miles), we came to the junction with the Lower Simpson Pass Trail, but we continued on the Healy Pass Trail. Over the next 1.8 km (1.1 mile), when we reached another junction, with the Simpson Pass Trail, the trees began to thin out, offering more expansive views.
We continued on the Healy Pass Trail, now hiking northwest. Here is a stitched panorama from the Healy Pass Trail:
Another stitched panorama
The Healy Lakes were visible, but the smoke from the British Columbia fires continued to plague us:
Batya on the Healy Pass Trail:
We were not the faster hikers, and were always courteous to allow others to pass, whether they were going in the same direction as us, or in the opposite direction. As we reached the Healy Pass, we allowed one group of German men to pass us.
After about another mile, we finally reached a large boulder which presumably marked Healy Pass, but the German men who had passed us had planted themselves on the boulder. In fact, as we approached, they grabbed their backpacks and put them on the boulder next to themselves, blocking any possibility for us to sit down. We instead had to sit on the ground nearby, and to each lunch there.
I said that I imagined that the boulder marked the location of the Healy Pass. I was surprised that there was no explicit signage to confirm this. There also seemed to be two trails continuing on from this point, whereas the National Geographic map that I had brought only showed one: the Healy Pass Trail continuing to Egypt Lake. Those continuing on were most likely going to be spending at least one night camping. We were only interested in a day hike, so we continued no further.
We retraced our steps southeast on the Healy Pass Trail, and when we reached the junction, we turned south onto the Simpson Trail. At Healy Creek, I spotted a few small fish in the water, which I think are cuthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii):
The Simpson Pass Trail offered a number of nice meadows, many with streams or ponds, and with mountains in the background:
More scenery on the Simpson Pass Trail. This appeared to be a small lake, though it is not named on my map:
This clearing looked like an inviting place to take a nap, but we had miles to go:
The Simpson Pass Trail finally left the meadows and clearings behind, and for a while entered a more forested area:
After 2.3 km (1.4 miles), we reached the Simpson Pass. Unlike the Healy Pass, the Simpson Pass did not offer a spectacular view, but it marked the boundary between Banff and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, as well as the boundary between Alberta and British Columbia:
Batya at the border between the provinces:
A chubby Columbian ground squirrel (Urocitellus columbianus) was welcoming visitors at the border:
We then turned north onto the Lower Simpson Pass Trail:
View from Lower Simpson Pass Trail:
After 1.3 km (0.8 miles), the Lower Simpson Pass Trail ended at the intersection with the Healy Pass Trail. Here Batya crosses a narrow footbridge at the junction:
We then retraced our steps northeast for 5.9 km (3.7 miles) on the Healy Pass Trail, until we arrived back at Sunshine Village. The hike was 19 km (11.8 miles), said to have an elevation gain of about 959 m (3,100′). I’m not sure the elevation gain is accurate, as while it was a challenging hike, the distance was more challenging than the elevation change.