A historic connection to the Miette River trail

Old tote road west of Jasper

Update June 2017: I was finally able to find the missing section of tote road just west of the Dorothy-Christine trail. I have improved the description below. Enjoy!

In Jasper National Park, there is a missing section in the Great Divide Trail: hikers have to walk for 21 km along Highway 16 west from the town of Jasper to the start of the Miette trail at Decoigne near the BC border. In his book, Hiking Canada‘s Great Divide Trail, Dustin Lynx suggests an alternative route via Minnow Lake and a cross-country section to the Virl/Dorothy Lake trail. From there, hikers still have to walk 11.5 km along Highway 16.  However, dedicated through hikers with good route-finding skills can avoid Highway 16 altogether by hiking for about 4km along a historic wagon road between the Dorothy and Golden Lakes trails. Alternatively, one can get a ride to the trailhead for the Dorothy-Christine trail, west of Jasper, and start from there.  The tote road was built during the construction of the railroad in the early 1900s to move supplies among workers’ camps. It has not been maintained since then, but it is still in surprisingly good shape for most of the way. From the Golden Lake trailhead, you follow the old rail bed all the way to the start of the Miette Valley trail.

When coming from Virl/Dorothy Lake, descend the well-maintained trail (Trail 60 on hiking maps) towards Highway 16 until the last switchback, where the trail turns to the southeast. The old wagon road starts about 10m past the turn at 414929E, 5858969N, at a sharp right angle. If you come from the trailhead, look for a very faint trail to your left at the UTM location above. There is a faint blaze on a tree beside the trail. Look for rows of rock, which were used to delineate the downhill side of the tote road. The old trail is faint here, and there is quite a bit of blowdown, but it pretty easy to follow until 414783E, 5859021 N.

At this point, the road angles up the hill at a 45 degree angle on your right into a small draw. If you end up  in a small clearing with steep slopes on all sides, you have gone too far. Either backtrack, or bushwhack up the slope on your right to 414731E, 5859050N. You should now be on the trail again.  At the top of the draw, at 414618E 5859183N, the trail turns sharply left. It now follows the contours of the slope. If coming from the west, do not miss the turnoff downhill into the draw here. The trail is virtually impossible to see here, so you’ll be bushwhacking here through relatively open terrain.

From here, the trail contours along the mountainside at approximately 1200m. It is very faint to non-existing in places, so you may have to look around for it, or just head in a general westerly direction to 414287E, 5859301N. Keep an eye on the canopy – in most places there is a distinct opening where the trail is/was. And search for the rows of rocks. There’s also a game trail in places. At 414287E, 5859301N the trail becomes very good again, with clear signs of the old road. Hike west from here along the trail to a creek bed and fire guard. If you lose the trail before you get to the creek, on the west side the trail starts at 413488E, 5859726N. From here the trail is easy to follow until another open area where you may lose it. Going westwards, it reappears at 413142E, 5859586N. It should now be easy to follow until you join the old, but excellent trail to Golden Lakes at 411955E, 5859779N.

Continue westwards, and follow the trail down the hill to an old, grown-in parking lot at 5859586E, 5859472N. You emerge onto a wide, old road bed. About a km west this becomes the old railroad bed. Follow this beautiful rail bed west, past the Decoigne station, all the way to the Miette Trailhead at 401958E, 5861318N, just before the rail bed dead-ends at the Miette River.

Aside from a bit of bushwhacking and route finding, this is a very pleasant route, and a great, historic alternative to walking along the highway!

GPX file of the route.

Start of old wagon road

Start of old wagon road, left of centre


Old wagon raod

Old wagon road

Golden Lake trail

Golden Lake trail

Grown-in parking lot for Golden Lake trail

Grown-in Golden Lake parking lot

Old rail bed

Old rail bed



Canada doesn’t make the top 20 in Lonely Planet’s traveller’s choice destinations

Lonely Planet just released its traveller’s choice destinations, based on a survey of 3,000 of their Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Thorntree fans. The results were revealing:

  • Canada didn’t even crack the overall top 20 destinations. Half of the destinations were Asian, and both Australia and New Zealand made the top five.
  • The big winners? Bhutan, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Thailand, and India.
  • Canada made it into only two categories – it came in ninth in the Nature category. The winners here? Costa Rica, Iceland, New Zealand, Bhutan, and Australia. So even though we feel we “own” nature, and certainly have lots of it, travellers don’t see us as the top destination to go for nature.
  • Canada also came in fourth for safety.
  • We didn’t make it to the top 10 in the adventure category.
  • Bhutan won the prize as best overall destination, and made it into the top 10 in 8 out of 16 criteria. Interesting, as it is not cheap to travel there.

While this survey only sampled a certain type of traveller, it does show that despite our great national tourism brand, we have some work to do when it comes to marketing our country.

Countries that entered the to 10 of most categories in Lonely Planet’s 2013 Traveller’s Choice awards.

What’s wrong with voluntourism in developing countries

If you are considering going on a voluntourism trip to a developing country, think again and watch this video first.

It is very difficult to make a difference in a few days. As Daniela so correctly points out, one has to be in a country a lot longer,  to first of all, learn, and then maybe make a difference.

Amazing Rockies aurora timelapse

The Mountains in Motions team recently captured some amazing aurora timelapse footage at Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park. Stay tuned for the release of the full movie in fall 2012.

Teachings From Long Ago Person Found

Teachings From Long Ago Person Found: Highlights from the Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi Project. In 1999, a most amazing discovery was made in the northwest corner of BC. The remains and belongings of a man buried in ice for hundreds of years were discovered melting out of a remote glacier and became the focus of study in a collaborative project by the community and scientists, including several museum staff, over the next decade. Read an excellent and fascinating summary of the project to find out who he was. The story is close to my heart as I lived for two years on Chilkat Pass, only a few km from where he was found.


This is a dilemma for many a photographer: shoot JPG, which don’t need any processing, or RAW, which provides you more opportunity to enhance the image in the computer? Darwin Wiggett and Sam Chrysanthou wrote an excellent intro on RAW vs JPG on their blog.

Yosemite Timelapse Project

Yet another great timelapse project, this time in Yosemite NP.

Yosemite HD from Project Yosemite on Vimeo.

Mountains in Motion timelapse project

This trailer for a new documentary on the Rocky Mountains has some amazing footage. I can’t wait to see the full movie! Make sure to watch it in HD.

Mountains in Motion: The Canadian Rockies | Official Trailer from The Upthink Lab on Vimeo.

Jasper National Park: 12 months of adventure

Jasper National Park offers a great variety of adventures, anytime of the year. These photos reflect on some of them.


Maligne Canyon, Jasper National Park, in winter


Tangle Falls along the Icefields Parkway, Jasper National Park, in winter


Snowshoers on Jacques Lake, Jasper National Park

Jacques Lake, Jasper National Park in light of full "super" moon


Snowshoeing on Whistlers Summit, Jasper National Park

White-tailed ptarmigan in winter plumage on Whistlers summit, Jasper National Park.


Male mountain goat, Oreamnos americanus, along the Athabasca River, Jasper National Park.


Grizzly bear, Ursus arctos, digging along the Icefields Parkway


Family overlooking Snake Indian Falls in Jasper National Park

Aspen stand along the North Boundary Trail, Jasper National Park


360 degree panorama of Indian Ridge, Jasper National Park

Alpine lake below Pyramid Mountain, Jasper National Park.

Spindley Creek at Spindley Creek picnic area, Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park. (Parks Canada/Rogier Gruys)


The Ramparts and Amethyst Lake from Tonquin Valley Adventures dock in Jasper National Park at sunrise

Young girl walking on log at first Geraldine Lake in Jasper National Park


Lorraine Lake in the Maligne Valley, Jasper National Park

Pyramid mountain and the cross at the summit of Morro Peak, Jasper National Park

The full moon lights up Mt. Edith Cavell from the shore of Cavell Lake, Jasper National Park.


The International Space Station is captured as a straight broken line among curved star trails over Patricia Lake in Jasper National Park in a one-hour exposure.


Visitor snowshoeing on Overlook trail on Pyramid Bench, Jasper National Park.

Longer timelapse video of earth from the International Space Station

This video of earth from the International Space Station is even better than the short timelapse video of earth I found last week. The scene at 0:31 shows the Rockies and Jasper National Park just to the left of the middle of the frame. An island of darkness in a sea of light.

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael König on Vimeo.