I came home last week from two amazing, life changing weeks. I spent them deep in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Hiking to Berg Lake was one of two treks we did.
Berg Lake is situated at the base of Mt. Robson – the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies. Its beautiful blue colour is thanks to the Berg Glacier that feeds the lake.
Hiking to Berg Lake was a bit different than I was used to. When I backcountry camp at home, very seldom do you need to reserve a tent pad; they would run on a first come first serve basis. Researching this hike, I knew you had to book your tent pads in advance. Little did I know it would fill up in a matter of days! We booked the sites 3 months until departure…and we still couldn’t snag a spot at Berg Lake; only at Robson Pass (which was just as beautiful thank goodness!). I was in shock for days knowing how fast you have to book — stressful times I tell you. Take my advise and plan ahead so when the reservations open, you’ll be ready to go and book away!
The Trip Details |
Dates: July 10th-13th. 2016
Campsites: Whitehorn (July 10), Robson Pass (July 11), Kinney Lake (July 12)
Kilometers per day: Day 1 (11 km), Day 2 (12 km), Day 3 (16 km), Day 4 (7 km)
Weather: Cloudy and raining with bursts of random sunshine (Mountain weather is its own kind!)
Before I left for the Rockies, I made a promise to myself that I would journal every day. Two days prior to departure, I made a stop at Chapters and bought myself a nice moleskin. I’m proud to say I managed to successfully complete this goal. Call me John Muir :)
Day 1 | July 10th. 2016
This morning, we left Robson Meadows Campground and said goodbye to somewhat normal civilization. This campground is ideal for pre-Berg Lake trekkers as it’s a nice 3 minute drive away from the trail head. We began the hike at 0930 with 11 kilometers to hike.
The initial part of the trail is wonderful. It’s wide, and super worn; you couldn’t get lost. It resembled the beginning part to the Elfin Lakes Trail. The grade wasn’t too intense, but it was my pack that threw me off the most. Before trip I bought this beautiful pack from Osprey. So far one of the best investments of my life. It was incredibly comfortable. What was throwing me off was how much weight I was carrying…I wasn’t used to a pack this large. It’s a 65 litre which allows space for a lot of things. I was figuratively carrying a small child. Like any hike I do – pack or no pack – the first 45 minutes in usually feel rough; until the endorphin’s start to kick in.
Right away you hear the raging Robson River. Before you know it you’re hiking right along it. This part of the river leaves from Kinney Lake. At the 7 km mark you will actually arrive to Kinney itself. We stopped and ate lunch here. It’s the first campsite you have the option to stay at. We camped here on our last day.
It was nice to arrive to Whitehorn a little after 12
. We hiked for a total of 3.5 hours. The campground is situated right in the centre of the Valley of a Thousand Falls. It’s beautiful. It gave us a lot of time to set up, bathe, and chill. The Robson River is freezing by the way – but I highly suggest it. I swam everyday on this trip and never regretted it. At the camp, there is a nice shelter with 4 picnic tables to eat/cook at. Knowing we had a big day tomorrow, we carb’ed up with Macaroni and Cheese for dinner. I hung my hammock once the skies cleared. I enjoyed a nice 10 minutes swinging away…until the ran came; which only lasted about 20 minutes. I had to mentally prepare myself for the crazy mountain weather. It has a mind of its own.
Day 2 | July 11th. 2016
This morning we started hiking at 0830. We had a big day ahead of us. There was a lot of “up” that was about to happen. Tonight we were to stay at Robson Pass Campground – 2 km past Berg Lake.
We didn’t eat our sit down breakfast this morning, instead we were determined to get hiking. After a few handfuls of nuts and some water filtration; we were on the trail. About 2 km after Whitehorn, that’s when you begin the glorious climb for the next 4 km. You gain 600 meters to be exact. It feels like a grind; you want it to be over after the first 20 paces. Thank goodness there were a few view points along the way to stop, catch your breath, eat some macadamia nuts and hydrate. One view in particular, that is a small distance from the main trail, is of Emperor Falls (right up close!). It’s only 200 m away. It reminded me of Upper Yosemite Falls; massive and intimidating. Do yourself a favour and make sure to stop and check it out…but be careful not to be swept in!
After this section, the hard part is pretty much done. It’s only distance you have to cover now. Once you escape the lush, it’s all alpine rubble from there – Berg is near! Just past Marmot Campground, we stopped for lunch right in front of Mt. Robson. I think we actually spent an hour here. We hunkered down and set up lunch. The oatmeal we ate put us all to sleep for a (on my end) deep 10 minute nap.
The end was near. From Marmot Campground you are already up close to Berg Lake. It’s blue, beautiful and grand. I’ve seen a handful of glacial lakes in my life so far, and this one hits it out of the ball park for me. The peak of Mt. Robson was still being a bit camera shy – I didn’t know if I’d ever get a chance to see it with these bipolar weather conditions. Once we made it to the shore of the lake near Berg Campground, the whiskey was pulled out and before I knew it I was swimming merrily in the frigid lake.
The walk to Robson Pass is only 2 km from Berg. It’s flat the entire way (which helped, knowing how much whiskey I had consumed prior – haha). When we arrived, the only spots left to pitch tent were in the marsh area. Fine by us! I spotted two moose poops near our tent!
Once we set up – in a record time of 10 minutes – dinner was on the agenda. This was the night we got to eat the oh-so-yummy freeze dried beef lasagna. Hurrah for working hard! After dinner activities consisted of card games and journaling; all while trying to keep dry under the tarp. It POURED for a good hour, but stopped just in time as we headed back to the tent for bed. Day 3 was going to be the longest day trekking so far (16 km)…but downhill for the most part.
Day 3 | July 12th. 2016
This morning was the nicest one so far. SUN! I woke up at 5:30 because of it. I couldn’t believe it. Mt. Robson was also making an appearance. I thought this weather was too good to be true having spent the past two days is dreary conditions.
After a nice relaxing breakfast beside the nearby creek, we packed up and headed for Kinney Lake. As we approached Berg Lake once last time, we all looked at each other and decided to stay here and eat some more breakfast, read and bathe in the lake. Today was all downhill, so we weren’t too worried about time as you can tell. We ended up leaving around 1230 after stopping to check out the Berg Hut. This was also the time the weather completely changed – not surprised. Goodbye blue skies and hello straight cloud and sideways rain! What the heck. About and hour later, the sun started to peek out again, so I took off my rain jacket. 5 minutes later it started to rain again, and then the sun would come out right after. This was driving me nuts. I think I took off and put on my jacket about 5 times in a span of 30 minutes.
By the time we reached Kinney, I was starving and flat out tired. We set up camp and went for another swim to wash off the day. Afterwards, I finally was able to hang up my hammock as the sun decided to stay out for the evening. Well, I passed the f*ck out. There I hung, sprawled and all. I don’t even remember drifting off. I took this photo below, and it was all a blur after that. I woke up to the smell of dinner (burrito bowls!). The rest of the evening was followed by more whiskey and chocolate – bliss at this point.
Day 4 | July 13th. 2016
It rained so much last night. The initial plan was to wake up for the sunrise around 4:30 – well that didn’t happen. I remember lying in the tent and not wanting to face the day; praying the rain would stop in time. Well, it did! When the alarm went off, there was no rain in sight. We were heading to Calgary this evening – hello Stampede! All we had been taking about for the past 24 hours was what we were going to order at A&W once we got to Jasper. Desperate times I tell you. All I wanted was some beef. Just a nice burger, onion rings and a root beer.
The hike took no time at all, and before we knew it, we were at the cars trying to put ourselves together and look somewhat civilized.
Things to Keep in Mind |
- Book super in advance here!
- Bring enough clothes for all sorts of weather! Especially RAIN GEAR.
- Water Purification droplets will do. No need for a pump. Just ensure you retrieve your water from a fast running source.
- Bring your camera!
- Bring a brave attitude and swim in one if not all of the lakes!
- Whiskey helps too
What a trip. Part A of the Great Rockies trip was done! Stay tuned for Part B.
Stay adventurous and keep exploring,
Have you hiked to Berg Lake? What did you think?!
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