Chasing the Setting Sun

Today we did another hike – this one however, was a doozie.

Our morning was mostly spent on the phone with family which turns out wasn’t the smartest plan given the rest of the day’s circumstances. It was partially necessary since we’ve been in iffy cell zones in the National Parks on and off for a few days.

Afterwards we drove from Golden, BC into Yoho National Park to Field, BC.

2011-07-24-Epic Beauty.jpg2011-07-24-The stuff paintings are made of.jpg2011-07-24-Field, BC.jpgWe had the road pretty much to ourselves because it was closed past Field for a rockslide.

It was a great quiet drive and we spotted a couple Longhorn sheep along the way. A mama and her two young ones,

and a proud male overlooking the road.

Before our hike we made a few stops – checking out Info Centre and then the Natural Bridge at the Kicking Horse River.

2011-07-24-River.jpg2011-07-24-Hanging out by the Natural Bridge.jpg2011-07-24-White water.jpg2011-07-24-Amazed.jpgWe also gave the van a bit of a spray-down – albeit not a very good one.

2011-07-24-Dirty van.jpgEventually, we made it to Emerald Lake, the trailhead for our hike. We had one more thing on our minds though. Steak. Completely necessary, of course.

2011-07-24-Cooking potatoes and steak.jpg2011-07-24-Mushrooms and onions.jpgSeriously though, the steak did need to be cooked due to our refrigeration situation and the hot temps today. We wanted to make it yesterday after our hike in the Glaciers but were far too wiped to even consider cooking when we returned.

2011-07-24-The final product.jpg
Since we skipped lunch today we were starving…

2011-07-24-Can we eat ?.jpgThen, finally. we hit the trail. Starting it off with a 20 minute walk around part of the stunning Emerald Lake eventually leading to the start of our “5.6 km” hike.

2011-07-24-Perfect for canoing.jpg2011-07-24-So cheery.jpg2011-07-24-The HIKE.jpg2011-07-24-Game face.jpg I will add that our official start time of the Burgess Pass trail, due to all the delays, was around 6pm local time. We passed several people on our way in. Yes we know what you’re thinking, we thought the same. Nevertheless we continued on, and climbed for ages. The actual distance up was about 8 kms and 900+ metres of pure switchbacking along the mountainside. We were panting for most of it but did find some flatter spots to catch our breath. 2011-07-24-A bit of panting later.jpgWe were in the forest for 95% of the time just trying to get above that timberline.

2011-07-24-Can't see it all just yet.jpg2011-07-24-Still hiding.jpgEach time we felt like we were close, we hit another switchback. Finally, after 2.5 hours, we made it to 2200 metres and the top of Burgess Pass.

2011-07-24-Exhilerated but exhausted.jpg2011-07-24-Ta-da!.jpgWith the light dancing over the mountains we took some pictures, grabbed our sandwiches, popped our celebratory wine (courtesy of our friend Mike) and, with a couple thousand mosquitoes, we soaked it in.

2011-07-24-A little wine to celebrate!.jpg2011-07-24-Taking it all in.jpgThe sun disappeared rapidly, leaving everything cold. We were right behind it. Our trek down started well – we were barreling down the hill going through switchback after switchback, chasing the light as far as it would take us. There was no moon, so we only had the last bits of sun and our night vision to rely on.

2011-07-24-Our view of Emerald lake.jpg2011-07-24-Ready to go down.jpgAlong the way we almost walked straight into the unfriendly porcupine who was sharing our trail. He was a bit unhappy we came up on him so fast – we were a bit unhappy he wouldn’t just get off the trail so we could continue at our pace. Going at our speed we could have likely made it down in 1.5 hours.

2011-07-24-Porcupine crossing.jpg2011-07-24-Not happy we're still here.jpgFurther down the mountain as the forest got more dense it became harder to see and I ended up slipping on a root and rolling my ankle. It didn’t really hurt so we pressed on in the dark until I did it again, to the same ankle. A little more severely this time. Enough pain this time to let out a squeak from me I didn’t know I had.

From there our pace slowed to a crawl. We still had a third of the way left and one dim headlamp and one hand flashlight to guide us. We took turns using the better light to see where we were headed. I limped along with two walking sticks and Andrew gave me some support where the trail became wide enough. All the while we blew whistles periodically to ensure bears and other critters didn’t get spooked by us. I think it probably took an hour or more after this to get us to the point where the trail split. We still had to walk around the lake. A journey which felt short when we started was endlessly long upon our return. We took a different route back marked “parking lot” and after 10 minutes we decided it was not where we wanted to be so we had to turn back. All in all we reached the van at about 12:30am with a sky full of blazing stars.

2011-07-25-Amazing night sky.jpg2011-07-25-Spot the dipper?.jpg In the end, we did make it, but, lesson learned – hiking with a sprained ankle is no fun. Doing it in the dark is less than ideal. I will say though that hiking 17 kms has a pretty good feeling of accomplishment along with it – at least for that tiny moment where you can’t fight the sleep any longer.