The Tower of Babel is one of the most rewarding hikes I’ve ever done, despite being a short five kilometers round trip. I was looking for a shorter hike the day we did this, and didn’t anticipate the scramble it would end up being.
This hike is located off the Moraine Lake parking lot, and you simply follow the trail towards Consolation Lakes. Having never done it before, we accidentally misread the directions and went for a long walk all the way to the lakes until realizing we needed to go almost all the way back – whoops! I guess we can consider the detour a warm up. The lakes are nestled between glacier clad mountains, and the walk to reach them is family friendly. Few trails in the Banff area offer views like these for so little physical effort.
After making our way back to the base of Babel we ran into a couple of Park Rangers who informed us a Grizzly Bear (Sarah) had made an appearance in the parking lot. According to them she was on the shyer side, so we were safe to start our climb.
There is no real path to follow when you start this hike. There is a huge rock pile located to the right, so you just choose which way you want to head up. Simply head towards the mountain, and begin to follow it up the right-hand side. As you start climbing you will notice that all you see is rock around you. Be careful to space yourself out amongst other groups so you don’t run the risk of being hit by fallen rock.
This is unlike any other hike I had done because it was mostly a scramble, especially near the top. Avid scramblers will tell you it’s on the easier side, because it is, but if you’re not super experienced you’ll certainly find it challenging like I did. The plus side is that whenever you feel tired, you can simply lean against the side of the rock wall and take in the stunning view of Mount Temple.
After the scree portion at the beginning of the hike the ground turns into solid rock as you near the top, and the walls around you slowly start to funnel. Once we neared the top I found myself using my hands to navigate the last narrowing portion of the gully.
Reaching the top is always a favorite, but this moment was especially spectacular. The path around me had narrowed and I was using my whole body to pull myself up and through the tapered trail. Once I popped out of the gully, we followed the path around the left and took a short walk to the summit. To say the views were remarkable is merely an understatement.
Moraine Lake is one of the most photographed lakes in the Canadian Rockies, but what most photographers don’t catch is the view from the summit of a mountain. From this viewpoint the glacier fed lake is a surreal blue in color, and those enjoying a leisurely canoe ride are almost barely visible.
The cool thing about this summit experience is not only did we have an uninhibited view of Mount Temple, but the ground is completely flat. You can walk to the edge with Moraine Lake below you, and all the way to the other side to check out Consolation Lakes and the glacier covered mountains bordering their sides.
As I was sitting close to the edge, with my feet nearly hanging off, I looked down and thought to myself ‘my feet and my legs got me here’. This may sound silly, but when I reach a summit I sometimes forget to take time to relax. It’s important to remember and think about how amazing our bodies are – they carry us through some wonderful experiences. I should take my own advice, but next time you’ve reached a summit, finished a race, or passed that last test, make sure you take time to realize your own accomplishments. Thank yourself for being strong! I couldn’t have reached this peak without a little willpower, which only helps push me when I’m climbing that next mountain. Living in the beautiful, Canadian Rockies, I know there will always be another mountain to climb!
PS – going down was just as hard as the trek up. Have fun!