Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Yoho National Park

Last weekend we booked rooms at the Fireweed Hostel in Field, which has to be the most high end accommodations I've stayed at for a hostel and one night an an alpine hostel (the Whiskey Jack up near Tekawa Falls) for another weekend of adventure in the Rockies. This time venturing over the border into BC to visit Yoho National Park. Now in regards to accommodations I would suggest staying at the Fireweed Hostel for the entire stay vs. spending a night at the Whiskey Jack if you where to repeat the trip. There was nothing wrong with the Whiskey Jack but the Fireweed was simply awesome, clean, great mountain feel, great host, earning their self proclaimed boutique feel and I really enjoyed being right in field. The only downfall is the train tracks out back but I don't think you can get away from the sounds of the trains anywhere in field being the small community it is, that gives it, it's mountain charm. If you are looking for a quiet mountain getaway consider Field and Yoho national park as the tiny town with a population of 300 or so, set in a gorgeous mountain park without the tourist you get in the main parks such as Banff and Jasper, has amazing food at the Truffle Pigs, and great coffee at the cafe and quiet, quaint atmosphere that was great to relax in.

Day 1 we wanted to take our time getting started so up 7:30 breakfast at the cafe/grocery store and some Oso Negro coffee and we where off to do the Emerald Lake, to Yoho Pass, to Burgess Pass loop with hopes of attempting a scramble to the summit of Mt. Burgess. The hike on it's own is approx. 18 to 20km and I'd rank it as a slightly above average hike. In comparison to some of the other hikes we've done this summer I wouldn't say it was spectacular with a lot of climbing for what seemed like little time above the treeline with views. However the views you do get are great. Another downfall to hike is that 90% of the views are of the same valley, however if I was to choose between this or one of the hikes bordering the city limits of Jasper or Banff that are a little more "tourist oriented" I'd do this hike again in a heartbeat. Now on the other hand the scramble to Mt. Burgess looks like it would be GREAT! and yield some impressive 360 degree views but unfortunately we started too late. And in all honesty the scramble looked like it would be difficult to find a decent route since we didn't do any research on common routes, and to top it off we where quite tired from the hike, after Friday mornings hill sprints and the 5 hour drive.

Day 2 our plan was to do the Iceline trail and then head through the Yoho Valley back up onto the Whaleback before dropping back down into the valley and climbing over the Twin Falls and then hiking out the shorter route to twin falls. The Iceline deserves it's status as the premier hike in Yoho with stunning views, but even more impressive is the imposing nature of the mountains still filled with ice throughout it. I highly suggest the hike across the Iceline. If you are going to complete the extensions we did I suggest only doing so if you
a) want to add KM's
b) can hike a 30 to 35KM day and explore the glaciers feeding the Twin Falls (which we didn't have time with the shorter days and tired legs - Who's idea was it to do Hill Sprints Friday morning before we left?)
c) you do an overnight trip staying at the Twin Falls Campground so you can explore the area more. Most of the hikers we met where doing overnight trips into the valley.

The extension was definitely worth it but it would be better if we could have explored a little more. I'd like to plan to attempt this early season (the trail opens in July) as a backpack trip as the ice and snow would most likely be amazing, the challenge of most likely finding your way over a snow cover trail in part would be an added challenge, and finally I would like some extra time to scramble to the peak of the Whaleback, Possibly scramble a couple of the peaks on the edge of the Yoho Valley and definitely explore the glaciers that feeds the twin falls. With the great vibe in the area and a little more of a secluded feel I'm sure I'll be back in the near future (a winter Nordic or AT trip may be in order).

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