Our fourth, and last, expedition took us to the North side of Saxifrage, much closer to the peak, but not quite at the peak. Seeing as this was our last day hike on the mountain, we really wanted to have a chance to take a look at the other side of Saxifrage, the side where we can see the White Lakes. That view gave us another idea of the mountain ranges behind there and gave us a new viewpoint of the uncovered areas in the mountain range. We took a long route (sorry no map), contouring the peak on the west side, through the forest, and then going up a huge bowl behind the peak. In the picture below, you can see the bowl where we walked up, towards the col on the left. The right side is the ridge we walked on our way out towards lake Valentine and camp.
On our way to the bowl, we had the chance to see a few very cool mountain ranges on the horizon, through the trees. Walking through the woods is not always fun, but the views that you get every now and then are magnificent (see below). I loved walking around there , except for the abundance of mosquitoes!
The first thing we all noticed when coming in the bowl behind saxifrage was the amount of bird activity above the forest and near the Saxifrage peak. The birds were all turning around a snow cornice (see pictures below). We noted the approximate coordinates for some of the search teams to go check it out on the next day. They ended up checking on the bird activity and didn’t find anything of interest up there (sigh). In any case, we kept walking up towards the col, and this time around we split up so that we could cover a little bit more terrain, seeing as this space was never fully searched in the past searches. My dad walked up closer at the bottom of the cliffs, I went more in the forest, and our guide stayed between us (keeping an eye on us at all time!).
Once we reached the top of the col, we could see very well behind the Saxifrage peak and beyond. It was super cool to see the White lakes, and once again, we took a moment to appreciate the type of hiking Jon and Rachael enjoyed. The scenery was beautiful, calm, and peaceful. I found those moments to be very helpful and wish I could go there more often, to sit and think a little bit. We had the chance of having a satellite phone with us, so we made a call to my wife, pregnant at the time, to tell her where we were and that we were safe. making a call from the top (almost) of the mountain was pretty surreal. Here are a few shots of the things we got to enjoy while up there.
This fourth and last hike was our longest walk, but also the most rewarding in my opinion. It gave us an opportunity to walk on the mountain, alone, see a new side of Saxifrage, and also spend a lot of energy. Having said that, we were sure glad that our guide found a shortcut for us to get back to camp as fast as possible (thanks Eric!). We got in time to camp to enjoy one last evening of dining, mosquito-free, around the fire, and enjoy the stars above our heads. Again, at night I got to shoot a few more pictures of the camp, Cassioppe Peak (during the blue hour — see gallery below), the stars, the fire, the sunset, etc. Basically, i tried to capture the best the campsite could offer, before we left. I would love to go back and take more shots, as it is a truly unbelievable place to be. I hope the pictures I took helped motivate people to hike up to the Peaks next summer as it is truly worth it. I know I want to be back next summer!
* click an image for larger size, if you are reading from Facebook, you should visit my site directly to get higher quality pictures. (cliqué sur une image pour la voir en grand format – si vous lisez directement de Facebook, vous devriez visiter mon site directement pour voir les photos en meilleur qualité).