The Canadian Rocky Mountains are stunning to behold. I have driven past them numerous times but have never previously stopped and stepped into their surrounding wilderness. This week, that finally changed.
Recently, we visited family in both Kelowna (BC) and Sherwood Park (AB). As a bonus, we were able to catch up with a close friend, from Beijing, who now lives in Edmonton (AB). When planning these visits, we took the plunge and booked time in Field, BC so that we could hike in Yoho National Park.
The quaint town of Field has a population of 189. It doesn’t have a grocery store. It does, however, have a café, a bar/restaurant and many guesthouses. (In summer, book well in advance). Food and drink prices include a hefty tourist tax, but our accommodation price was fair, and the convenience high, so we were happy with this choice.
For our first day ‘warm-up hike’, we walked around the nearby Emerald Lake and hiked uphill to Emerald Basin (10 km return trip). This hike is often known for spotting bears in the wild. To Richard’s disappointment, the bears did not seem to like my singing so did not come out to greet us (insert an immense sigh of relief here)!
For our second day, we completed a six-hour hike around the other side of Emerald Lake and up to Yoho Lake. It was a relatively steep climb to Yoho Pass (20 km round trip to Yoho Lake including our extra stroll around Emerald Lake). This hike brought us to a height of 1,815 meters (530-meter elevation gain). Our map showed two red Adirondack chairs awaiting us at the top of the climb.
There is a much easier way to hike to Yoho Lake (4.6 km from the Takakkaw Falls Parking Lot). But why would I change my pattern and do anything the easy way? Our extended hike allowed us incredible views of several snow-capped mountains and spectacular waterfalls. It also allowed us to travel diverse terrain, including roaring waters, vivid wildflowers, lush silent forests….and narrow, rocky paths. We also crossed a flat delta formed by the glacier waters. Rocks and gravel have been deposited upstream to create an alluvial fan while the finer silt has been carried to the lake’s edge onto the delta. This formation of an alluvial fan on top of a delta is unusual in the Rocky Mountains, where both processes seldom occur together. Scientists predict that this fan will gradually continue to grow until the lake is completely filled. Our entire hike was a potent reminder of the immense power of ice and water.
Both routes that we hiked were part of a series of trails in Yoho that connect together…. many above the tree-line. Established in 1886, Yoho National Park covers 1,310 square km (507 square miles) on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia. It borders Banff National Park and Lake Louise to the east and Kootenay National Park to the south. “Yoho” is the Cree word for “awe/wonder” which is immensely fitting. Although we had only allowed for two days of hiking on this trip, we were delighted with the trails that we chose. We have already made a pact to return for an extended stay next summer.