Upper Devon Lakes just east of Clearwater Pass are the ultimate destination for one of the finest alpine backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies. But the trip should only be undertaken by experienced wilderness hikers. Photo by Bruce Nielsen

Upper Devon Lakes is the ultimate destination for one of the finest alpine backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies. But the trip should only be undertaken by experienced wilderness hikers. Photo by Bruce Nielsen

Time was that planning a hike in the mountain parks was limited to a few lines in a park brochure, maybe a map, or at best a trail guide description illustrated with one or two photographs.

Not so today. Google the name of any trail in the Canadian Rockies and you’ll discover scores of websites overflowing with photos and even videos. It’s no longer a mystery what you’re going to see along the way.

While most of the photography on these sites is mundane, every once in awhile you happen on something special. That happened the other day when I googled what I consider one of the finest alpine backpacks in the mountain parks—the 29-km trail to Clearwater Pass and Devon Lakes in Banff Park. That’s when I stumbled across Bruce Nielsen’s photographic record of the trip on his “thisisbigblog” site.

Bruce’s photography is quite exceptional when you consider the hazards of weather and light you encounter on any backcountry trip. On this page, he documents some of the best scenes from the Mosquito Creek valley to Clearwater Pass and Devon Lakes, including the vast, flower-filled Mosquito Lake meadows, the rocky crest of North Molar Pass, Fish Lakes and the high traverse through Pipestone Pass.

Bruce presents his best 25 photos from the trip on an attractive WordPress template that allows you to experience this virtual journey in slideshow fashion. This is no commercial site. No ads, no mess.

As Bruce says in his introduction, “My friends told me that I should start putting my photos online…. I’m not a professional photographer, but I love to go hiking and backpacking and I enjoy the challenge of trying to photograph and capture the incredible beauty of the places I walk to.”

If you’re a fairly strong backpacker and have never hiked to Clearwater Pass and Devon Lakes via North Molar Pass, I’m sure that Bruce’s portfolio will get you thinking about next summer.

You can read a description of the trip, and view a couple “mundane” black & white photos, by checking out trails 51, 53 and 84 in the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide. (These descriptions include other variations and extensions, but most folks simply go to Clearwater Pass and Devon Lakes via North Molar Pass and return by the same route.)

To view Bruce’s photographic journey, click this direct link N. Molar Pass to Devon Lakes, or go to his website thisisbigblog.wordpress.com to view some of his other portfolios, which include Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine, Lake O’Hara, the Iceline Trail and Wilcox Pass.

As Bruce so modestly concludes: “If you enjoy nature and scenic photography, you might just enjoy what follows on this blog—even if it is only pictures online.”