Well we are due for some Banff Obscurities…..
Crystal Cave at Lake O’Hara
N 51 21.097 W 116 19.659
OK here’s a little background as told by Brendan Clark who recently visited the cave:
“I love Lake O’Hara and I’ve visited it 2x a year for probably the past 5 or more years. I’ve hiked all the trails and scrambled most of the scramblable mountains. Never in my travels have I heard of the Crystal Cave. One day I was interested in learning more about the area I went to the library (Central library downtown – you go through a locked door on the 5th or 6th floor and access some super old books) to find some history on Lake O’Hara. I found this really old history book that had some neat historical info on Lake O’Hara. On one page they made this very brief reference to something called the “Crystal Cave” which was once raided of beautiful quartzite crystals. It was very brief and all I had to go on was that it was somewhere along the cliffs of the Opabin Prospect. I was VERY interested in finding this cave, especially since I know the Lake O’Hara region like the back of my hand and I’d never heard of it before!
So this last summer I took a pair of binoculars and got to a point where I could inspect the cliffs of Opabin Prospect. I spotted something that resembled a cave and using landmarks I tried to hike there. I might even have a photo somewhere that I took from afar if you’d like. I scrambled through a boulderfield and eventually reached the cave. It fit the description of the Crystal Cave so I assume that’s it. On the way back I found a really old trail that was probably once used to access the cave long ago.
So yes, it has been visited by people in the past. I tried to research it but it seems to have fallen off the map. Any info I can find is very brief and not at all descriptive. The information here on rockiesobscure, will be the most descriptive account, at least as far as I can find.”
From the Lake O’Hara day shelter (called the “Le Relais” day shelter): Hike 250 meters down the Lake O’Hara Fire Road past the Lake O’Hara Lodge to the Lake O’Hara Circuit Trail. Follow the trail counter-clockwise around the lake for 600 meters until you see a very faint path appear on the right. Follow it for approximately 250 meters through the forest to the base of the cliffs of the Opabin Prospect. Investigate the base of the cliffs until you find the cave. It’s approximately 10 meters deep with small quartzite crystals inside. At the end is a small 2 meter upshaft that is tall enough and wide enough for you to stand up in.
Billy Carver’s Cabin (near Banff)
N 51° 11.706 W 115° 28.874
Submitted by Brendan Clark, here are his great directions to some historical fun in Banff!
Leave Hwy 1 heading towards Lake Minnewanka. Take a right, following the signs for Johnson Lake. Follow the curvy road for approx. 3.5 km and turn right onto Johnson Lake Road. Follow Johnson Lake Road all the way to the Johnson Lake Parking Area (open year round). Head to the very west end of Johnson Lake and cross over a small bridge at the outlet of the lake. You will see a powerline heading southeast. Follow the powerline for approximately 500 meters, then look for a trail heading off into the woods on your left. Continue along the trail and on your right hidden in the trees you will see the old cabin. Please respect the history and the artifacts – leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photographs!
Castle junction Osprey Nest
Osprey nest, and what a huge one it is, looks like a condor or pterodactyl could live comfortably in it. Folks at Parks Canada have said it for sure has been there since the 1970s. Going west from Banff, turn off at Hwy#93 south for Radium. Go north a minute and you will see it perched atop the steel bridge over the Bow River.