ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
[personal profile] ilanarama
On the morning of August 3rd we packed up our camp and headed back down the Icefields Parkway to the intersection of Canada's Rt. 1, then headed west into Yoho National Park. Just before the town of Field, we made the sharp turn to the right and up the steep Yoho River Valley to the Takakkaw Falls trailhead. "Takakkaw" means "wonderful" in the Cree language, and this huge waterfall certainly is, tumbling 830 feet from a glacier down a nearly-sheer rock wall.

Takakkaw Falls

This is the start of a classic loop hike that our guidebook called "one of the most spectacular day hikes in the Canadian Rockies." Clearly everyone else was reading that guidebook, because it was A ZOO; we tried to take artful photos that don't show the crowds, but there was a constant stream of people ahead of and behind us on the trail. We climbed up the valley opposite the falls (which is how we got the nice view in the photo above) and then contoured up the valley just above treeline, under the hanging rim of the icefields of the Emerald Glacier.

Starting up the Iceline Trail Lunch along the Iceline Trail

Crossing the stream On top of the WORLD!

Yoho River Valley Celeste Lake on Iceline Trail

At the small, shallow Celeste Lake we turned back downhill, following the Little Yoho River to Laughing Falls and then back down to its confluence with the main Yoho River, and back to the trailhead.

Laughing Falls Finishing up the Iceline

Our stay at the Chateau at Lake Louise had given us a taste for luxury, so we had made reservations for a couple of nights at the Cathedral Mountain Lodge. We also had dinner reservations for that night, and the food was excellent - we were pretty hungry, too, as our hike had covered about 14 miles!

The next day we drove the short distance to the town of Field and did laundry in the machines in the basement of the Truffle Pigs restaurant, where we had a delicious lunch. In between loads we went to the visitor's center and looked at their displays on the Burgess shale fossils, a historic find of well-preserved Cambrian fossils in the mountains nearby. Since the actual site is protected and restricted, this sort of display is the only way most people can see the remains of these weird and wild prehistoric creatures.

The following day we continued down the highway that runs through Yoho NP. We stopped at the scary-impressive Natural Bridge on the Kicking Horse River. This has a lot more in common with the limestone gorges we'd seen recently than with the soaring sandstone arcs we are accustomed to seeing in Utah. The whole frothing river squeezes into a narrow slot that doesn't go all the way through the rock, thus the bridge - but I wouldn't want to walk over it!

Natural Bridge on Kicking Horse River Natural Bridge on Kicking Horse River

We then continued up the road to Emerald Lake. There's a fancy resort here that rents canoes, but we just walked around the lake, a little more than three miles. We started out in the less-obvious (and muddier!) direction, and didn't see anyone for some time, but by the time we got to the lake inlet on the far side there were quite a few walkers, and in the last mile it was genuinely crowded.

Emerald Lake

After a picnic lunch at a rest area along the Kicking Horse River, we drove to the Wapta Falls trailhead. We weren't actually sure what to expect - it was listed as an 'easy' hike to a view of a waterfall - but it turned out to be freakin' spectacular! The falls themselves aren't that high (well, 100 feet, high enough!) but they are wide - at this point the Kicking Horse has picked up quite a few side streams - and what is even niftier is that the cascade falls directly in front of a steep cliff, which the river goes around on the left:

Wapta Falls Wapta Falls

That double cliff is pretty big, maybe 50 feet high. The water behind it is a sort of pond formed from the collected spray; off to the right it drains in a shallow stream over the rocks to rejoin the main river. The stream is small enough that it's easy to cross in order to clamber up those cliffs, so...we did!

Wapta Falls Wapta Falls

It was, in fact, drizzling a little, which is why I was wearing my rain jacket. But most of the precipitation was coming from the waterfall spray!

That night we camped just outside the park, at a rafting put-in on the river that turned out to be the property of a commercial rafting company, who angrily chased us out the next morning - oops. In the morning we headed for the town of Golden to do some grocery shopping, and then continued south toward our final park destination of the trip.

More photos, fewer words (at Flickr)
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ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)

August 2017

131415 16171819
20212223 242526

My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31

You can reach me by email at heyheyilana @


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