Sparrowhawk Tarns

Elevation: 2400 m
Elevation Gain: 680 m
The Sparrowhawk Tarns can be found in an alpine cirque immediately west of Mount Bogart and south of Mount Sparrowhawk; They take their name from the latter. Mount Sparrowhawk was named after the HMS Sparrowhawk, an Acasta Class destroyer sunk during the Battle of Jutland in 1916.
My Ascents:
July 12 2015.
GPS Track: Sparrowhawk Tarns

With an overcast (and possibly rainy) day forecast, Crux and I were pleased to discover that my parents were still interested in joining us for a day out in the mountains. Crux loves hiking with my parents because he knows that they prefer soft alpine meadows to harsh scree slopes. More importantly, they usually bring extra snacks for lunch! As we set out from Calgary, gray skies persuaded us to abandon any peak bagging ambitions and, instead, to enjoy a scenic hike below the cloud-covered peaks. My parents had recently been hinting that they’d like to visit the Sparrowhawk Tarns, so we charted a course along the Spray Lake highway towards the “Sparrowhawk” trailhead and were underway shortly thereafter.

From the “Sparrowhawk” parking area, the obvious trail climbs the bank across the road.

The hounds make their way up the gentle but steady grade as the trail ascends through the lodgepole pine-dominated forest.

10 – 15 minutes from the trailhead, a well-marked fork in the trail is reached. Go to the climber’s right for the Sparrowhawk Tarns and the climber’s left for Read’s Ridge/Tower and Mount Sparrowhawk.

A pretty mountain stream cuts through the valley bottom near the path.

Improving views of Mount Bogart (enshrouded in cloud) as we near tree line.

Whistling guardian of the alpine!

Uh oh – looks like your whistles have attracted the wrong kind of attention Mr. Marmot…

Ascending grassy slopes to the climber’s right of a boulder field overrun by marmots.

Impressive fossil find – my mom claims that she loves looking for fossils but I have my suspicions that she only searches them out when she feels like taking a break on a steep hill!

Our fossil-finder plugs away up the steep hillside.

As the grade begins to level, multiple trails chart multiple paths through the last of the boulder field.

With the boulders behind, views back towards Spray Lake improve as we enter the massive alpine cirque which houses the Sparrowhawk Tarns.

Vast alpine meadows at the foot of Mount Bogart (center). From here, 1 tarn can be found on the left side of the basin while several others lie to the far right. Following the streams which flow down from them will allow you to find them without too much detective work! ;-)

We ended up foregoing the tarn on the left and, instead, followed a beautiful little stream up towards the tarns on the right.

Crux takes this “following the stream” thing a little too seriously…

Indian Paintbrushes provide a vibrant display in the lush meadows surrounding the alpine streams.

Colorful moss campion amidst the alpine wildflowers.

Mom tackles the final steep waterfall below the tarns.

Looking back over the massive alpine meadow as we gain height alongside the little waterfall.

The hounds wait for the straggling photographers at the top of the hill.

Sentinel marmots pay close attention to Crux.

And Crux, in turn, could care less about the marmots. Why chase marmots when you can lie down in the cool mud? Seriously – there are nice tarns up here and this is what he decides to lay down in!

Red Peak provides a striking contrast to the blue waters of the first (real) tarn.

Gord wanders around the tarn. As you can see, the rock strata here make for several different tiers which trap melt water into several different tarns.

A colorful panorama on a gray day: blue tarns nestled amongst green meadows at the foot of red rock. Click to see larger.

Mom explores the highest (and largest) of the tarns.

A panorama from the day’s high point: the scree ramp which grants access to Mount Bogart’s west ridge ascent route is visible on the left while Red Peak rises up above a tarn on the right. Click to see larger.

A convenient spot for lunch!

Gord uses his sandwich in an attempt to get Crux to look into the camera for a photo…mouse over to see how Gord’s lunch turned into Crux’s lunch!

Clouds engulf Mount Sparrowhawk as the hounds start to make their way back down to the meadows from the tarns.

Hiking buddies make their way back down through the flowery meadows.

Following the scenic stream on descent.

Views of Spray Lake encourage us as we retrace our steps along a good path through the steep boulder field.

Listening to the “EEEEP! EEEEP!” of pikas as we wind our way back down to the trailhead below.