This is the longest (and best) of the hikes that we went on over our weekend. Thanks to Rachelo (et al) who recommended this hike. Here are the stats:
Cumulative elev. 1300m+
Time 8 Hrs.
Mosquitos Not one I'm serious
Snow Small patches, safe
In a way, this is like doing 4 little half-dayhikes in one.
Leg one: Trailhead to the Iceline summit
You hike back down the road for about 500m to the Whiskyjack trailhead. The trail climbs and switchbacks so gradually that you barely notice it is climbing. As expected, the trails in Yoho national park are remarkably well maintained. I remember thinking what a priviledge it was to hike directly into impending bush bowls and know that the trail would not be grown in. I popped the collar on my shirt so I would look super cool and so that the sun would not beat down on my neck quite so bad on the ascent.
Before you know it, you pop out of the trees and gain a sloping shelf in the mountain with a fabulous view back down to Takakkaw falls. You pass directly under a number of small glaciers, and the runoff was some of the best drinking water I've ever tasted. We stopped at a small lake (there were a series of them) for some food. From there the trail weaved up and down little obstacles before finaly reaching its summit (2200 meters if I remember correctly).
Leg two: Trail down through the Little Yoho Valley
From the summit, the trail descends to the hut in the Little Yoho Valley. The scenery beomes softer, and the hiking gradually descends past a beautiful boulder field. I'm into bouldering, and one little rock was amazingly picturesque. The stone here is grippy and weathered (rounded). At the creek, we stop for another drink, and are amazed at the color of the stream.
Got to go to work...Will edit to post the whaleback and the hike out of the valley this evening
edit Leg three: The whaleback
After descending slightly down the Little Yoho Valley for a couple of KM, we reach the junction for the whaleback. We were not sure if we were going to do this at the beginning, but were feeling good, and ended up going for it.
Another series of switchbacks leads up, alternating between a moist forest and a dry open hillside under a cliff. Again, the grade is painless (nothing seems steep after the central cheam approach trail), and we gain the whaleback after 30 minutes of climbing. Shots 3-5 show a couple of the views from the whaleback.
From there we descend back into the a valley and follow a creek to the top of twin falls. No picture or description can do this place justice. You wont believe the power and intensity unless you go there yourself. The water falls down into a box of rock in the cliff and is held in by a wall of rock that is maybe 3 feet thick. From there it falls through a slit in the rock down hundreds of feet. Again, the photos 7&8 make it look tame. #9 is the falls from the bottom for perspective.
We end up at the tea hut after climbing up a hill (not planning on that), to get around the waterfall cliff. There are some beautiful cliffs on the way down, and I half expected to see bolted sport routes on them...
Leg 4: Yoho valley trudge home
This was painful. I was feeling it in my feet, and I hit the wall with about 4k to go. Mrs. Pianoexcellence is the perfect example of the "out of the gym" hiker. This is her second hike of the year, and she was bounding and jogging down the last 8k. I know the treadmill is no substitute for the mountains...but she O.W.N.E.D. me. lol. I guess there is no substitute for fitness
There are lots of side trips and diversions on the way down, but we were in "get back to the car" mode. Here are a few pictures of me putting on my game face. I later realized that part of my problem was not bringing enough food...I weigh 230 lb and only brought about 1200 calories to eat that day...live and learn.