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Brazeau Loop (continued)

From Jonas Cutoff camp, the Brazeau Loop route turns east and crosses Poboktan Pass, then descends John-John Creek to the mouth of Brazeau Lake (see map). It is a 180 m (590') ascent from the camp to Poboktan Pass (2,300 m (7,544')) over approximately 3 km. There is plenty of attractive alpine scenery in the pass, but of a somewhat less grand quality compared to Nigel and Jonas passes. If you are bypassing the camp at Jonas Cutoff by perhaps hiking cross-country directly from Jonas Shoulder to Poboktan Pass, the next available stop is John-John Creek camp, just over 4 km below the pass. Most Loopers will instead descend the creek to camp at Brazeau Lake; it is 16 km (10 mi.) from Jonas Cutoff and 390 m (1,280') below Poboktan Pass.

On the descent of John-John Creek, at a point that is about 4 km from the Brazeau Lake camp, the trail crosses the creek and soon follows an old moraine that offers the first views of Brazeau Lake's vivid blue waters. The lake is partly visible for most of the way even after the trail re-enters the forest.

The fourth day of the Loop usually involves a routine ascent of the Brazeau River to the final campsite of the trip at Four Point or Boulder Creek. From Brazeau Lake camp, the trail descends the left (north) side of the lake's outlet stream, and in about 2 km arrives at the main Brazeau valley trail and another bridge over the outlet. The campsite that is just across the bridge here is buried in the forest and would only appeal to those who cannot book a night at the Brazeau Lake site. The ascent of the Brazeau is fairly routine and the grade is easy. The trail eventually skirts a canyon on the river and crosses to the right (east) side. Wolverine South camp is about 11 km from Brazeau Lake and 7 km from Four Point. While it will likely be bypassed by those hikers doing the normal Loop, it is a convenient stopover if you plan to do the SuperLoop and cross Cline Pass the next day. Plus, it is a moderate day's hike from John-John Creek camp, and is a more attractive and quieter camping spot compared to Four Point.

After about 30 min. hiking past Wolverine camp, you will arrive at yet another bridge over the Brazeau to it's left (west) side. The normal Loop route follows the trail up the river for about another hour to reach Four Point, the standard campsite for the final night. However, this bridge marks the beginning of the "Twist" (SuperLoop = Brazeau Loop with a "twist") section that will appeal to experienced and intrepid hikers. The SuperLoop is indicated on this map, while the details of the section through Cline and Cataract Passes are shown on this map that is composed from the four topographic maps that cover the area, 83 C/2, C/3, C/6 and C/7.

The first objective of the "Twist" is Cline Creek, which runs down to the Brazeau River from Cline Pass, roughly opposite to Four Point Creek. Instead of crossing the bridge, stay on the right (east) side of the river and walk along the open flats until the underbrush becomes dense. At that point, head into the trees and continue up-valley; the forest is fairly open and there is little deadfall. After about an hour's hike from the bridge, you will approach the steep-walled edge of Cline Creek, approximately 1 km above the Brazeau River. Fortunately, there is a quite well-beaten path along the creek, and depending on where you intersect this trail, you may pass the trail sign and message box located right on the Jasper-White Goat boundary.

Like many routes in the Rockies, the trail is fairly easy to follow through the forest, becomes fainter and more intermittent as it passes through the subalpine zone, and then reappears as a well-defined path near treeline. After about 90 min. of hiking from the message box, the route enters the alpine zone and the first of many excellent, potential camping spots. Another hour brings one to the summit of Cline Pass (~2,317 m (7,600')) with its two, pristine tarns (pictures). Since this pass was used by the fur traders to travel from the Brazeau valley to Cline River, it is easy to imagine the packhorses drinking from the tarns while their masters took shelter from the wind behind the huge, square boulders that are strewn about the summit. Arthur P. Coleman, who may have been the first white man of the "modern" era to cross here in 1893 on the way to Athabasca Pass, wrote:

"Fine peaks of dark red quartzite rise on each side, with glaciers about their shoulders and feeding an indigo-coloured pond amid the snows of the summit."

Today, there is still a small glacier on the northwest side of the pass that descends to an unusually low elevation.

Cline Pass
Cline Pass, view towards Jonas Pass (80 KB)

Cline Pass would be an easy and very worthwhile side trip for hikers on the Caribou section of the Great Divide Trail; campsites in upper Cataract Creek are about an hour or less of hiking from the pass. Most hikers on the SuperLoop will probably camp somewhere near the approach to Cataract Pass, in preparation for the final day's hike over to Nigel Pass and back to the trailhead. Click here for the rest of the route.

Near Cataract Pass approach
Cataract Creek meadows (119 KB)
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This page was modified on July 15, 2012