Aug 26, 2016 I truly struggled with what to rate this hike as. On one hand, for the beauty and scenery awesomeness, I would definitely give it a 5, but there were so many factors that lowered the rating, in particular the crowds, the filthy washrooms, the camper’s behaviours, and the rodents (rodents only because of my irrational fear).
First off, I was a bit surprised that this trail was rated as an intermediate. It is a well groomed trail with very little technical difficulty until you reach the campground. It has a high cardio component, simply because of the incline on the way in. I'd say it's an easier intermediate level. The intermediate part being at the very end.
There were throngs of people, even during the week. On our way out, there was probably not one minute that went by that we were not passing someone. We even saw one person in a suit! I actually believe that there was a tour bus that dropped off a bus load of people as at one point, about 30 people came swarming in. This alone was the biggest factor in my low rating. How can one be at peace with all this when you have masses of people walking by you at all times, many of whom were ignorant and seemed to not to respect nature or other hiker’s spaces.
After the day use of the upper Joffre lake, the crowds lightened up somewhat. We totally lucked out for campsites and ended up getting the one on the peninsula. From that vantage point, we could see the entire campground and area.
At times, I felt like I was in a zoo enclosure as there were probably a hundred people sitting across the lake at the day use area looking our way, but come sundown, they left.
The washrooms at all points were horrendous. I don’t think that they have been tended to in months. Unfortunately, because of the lay of the land, there is no alternative but to use them. They are rancid and filthy, easily being the most repulsive I have ever seen in my life. Disrespectful campers have left behind an array of garbage and in the outhouse were empty pop bottles, Cheetos, and other unmentionable things, etc. Piled outside the outhouse was a Canadian tire portable barbeque, empty wine bottles, etc. The stench, especially in this heatwave, is overwhelming and travels quite a distance.
Although there are signs everywhere to not wash your dishes in the lake, I saw several campers washing their items directly in the lake, and even a kid throwing his uneaten food into the lake. I was prepared to go speak with his parents, but then the mother proceeded to traipse down to the lake to wash the dishes in it. I was dumbfounded.
I personally am terrified of rodents and I knew going into the hike that there were reports of mice. Well, I was not mentally prepared for the amount that I saw lol. Yikes. They were not that active during the day (or at least I did not notice), but as nightfall approached, they came out in full force. We made sure to not have any food that wasn’t locked away in the bear cache and we were fine. I went to bed early just as I couldn’t cope with seeing them. Thankfully none made their way into the tent, but I did peek outside and saw them crawling over my backpack.
On a positive, there are a lot of things that you could venture off to do such as going to the top of the waterfall, going to the glacier, etc.
In short, I think if you had a few hours to spare and it was crappy weather during the week (maybe less people), and you wanted to do some kick ass cardio, this would be a good running trail to do. It’s short and can easily done in a partial day. Otherwise, if you were set on camping, I would do it off season so that you could have some solitude.
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