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Jonas Pass: Another Visit to that Other Continental Divide
Timestamp Free: 2019.11.19 - 16:37:01
Ranges: North America Ranges / Rocky Mountains / Canadian Rockies / Continental Ranges / Front Ranges
  (3 days)     Elevation Gain: 750m
Participants: David Wasserman, Leila Ranta, Glenn Ford
Difficulty: 1: On-trail hiking
A quick trip to another crossing of the Arctic-Hudson's Bay watershed divide
The Jonas Pass-Brazeau Lake Loop is rated as the third most popular backpack in Jasper National Park, after the Jasper Skyline Trail and the Tonquin Valley. Having done the Skyline and the Tonquin as day hikes, I naturally turned my attention to Jonas Pass-Brazeau Lake. But with a total length of 81.4 km, it was beyond dayhiking range.

Even with a one-day approach to the actual loop, the loop section starting from and returning to Four Point backcountry campground left a 52-km day hike, seven km further than I had ever done in a day, and unlikely to get me any companions. So I scaled it back to three days, with one day backpack to Four Point, one day to day hike as far as Jonas Shoulder (31 km return), and one day backpack return to the trailhead. Offering this concept as a club hike for the Grant MacEwan Mountain Club netted me two companions (after some last minute withdrawals and additions).

I didn't realize until we were actually on the trail that Jonas Pass was another point on the secondary continental divide that splits the Western Arctic watershed from the Hudson's Bay watershed. This divide had been part of the interest for my earlier trips to Redcap Mountain and (three weeks before this trip) to Rocky and Southesk Passes, all of which are on the same divide. Jonas Pass drains into Jonas Creek to the north, into the Athabasca River system, and into Four Point Creek to the south, which flows into the Brazeau River, a tributary of the North Saskatchewan.

The entire trip was on-trail, but fording the headwaters of the Brazeau just past Nigel Pass was a little more challenging than the rock-hop promised by the guidebook. The fording sandals were put to use. The rain that had fallen in the preceding days had raised the river level just...

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