Waking up in my tent at Lake Louise I felt very tired. Continuous full-day trips over last several days, lack of good night sleep (darn that train!) and proper food took their toll. I felt I needed to sit in my car & drive straight to the Coast. Had that happened, I would have missed this:
Iceline is the classic Rockies Trail. Most people who come to this board would have heard of it, or even hiked at some point. For everyone else -- if you are going to pick 1 Trail in Yoho National Park, pick this one. High alpine traverse with glaciers, lakes and waterfalls on park maintained trail with different loop options available.
After packing up my camp and refueling at Lagans (way too overpriced, but busier than Whyte Avenue after Oilers game) I felt a bit better. It was bluebird day; I should at least get to some lake and snap few photos before heading back. Emerald Lake just past Field came to mind; I remembered nice views of Wapta Mountain from the shoreline. Driving down I glanced towards Yoho Valley -- it's been such a long time since I've been here. Last time it was rather roundabout approach to Isolated peak I led for Calgary based COC. The car kinda steered itself on its own. Let's just take a few photos of the falls first, then drive back
Snapping a few pictures of the falls from tourist spot I felt a bit better. I walked down to Whiskey Jack hostel and glanced upwards
From here it didn't take long to convince myself. Quick check at depleted food bin: Still some Gatorade Powder - good. Energy bar and an apple. Good. Some cheese. Hm. Can of Brunswick sardines. Yuck. Some baby carrots. Ok. Looks like I am going to survive.
Hiking up the switchbacks above Whiskey Jack took forever -- I felt every step. However once I was above treeline, views opened up and I stared taking photos, the tiredness went away -- I was like new. From that point on I enjoyed hiking this delightful trail over series of talus covered benches under the Presidents, past small glacial lakes with ever improving views west towards Glacier Des Poilus and peaks above Little Yoho Valley. Some photos:
I reached the highpoint from where trail dips down towards Little Yoho. I turned up the small talus slope, had lunch break (even these sardines were not bad after all), then retraced my steps. Arriving at Celeste junction I realized I never hiked that trail. It would be a bit longer but I love loops and at that point I felt perfectly ok. Afternoon sun created perfect light conditions for optimal photography:
1. Length of Whaleback Ridge. Not to be confused with Park "Whaleback Trail" which is just highline connector between Twin Falls and Little Yoho Valley. We hiked this on our approach to Isolated Peak, and to this day it remains one of best ridgewalks I've ever done
2. Views back down the Iceline at Celeste Junction
3. Great view of Wapta Peak -- difficult Kane scramble. Think I can see Steven Song somewhere up there
Celeste Trail is rather roundabout -- had it gone directly it would be 1/2 hour hike. Instead it meanders around without hurrying, but I didn't care. Initial descent to rather expansive meadows (even a few mosquitoes here!), then bellow treeline to dried out Celeste Lake and finally unnamed, but very beautiful emerald green tarn near the connector to Little Yoho Valley trail:
Quick plunge down to main Yoho Valley followed with last photo break at Laughing falls. I inspected backcountry campground for possible future trips, but although it is quite nice it is much better in my opinion to continue and overnight at Little Yoho:
Flat 3.5 km walk back to Takakkaw parking lot ended the day. I enjoyed one last view of the Falls and great Burning Sky towards O'Hara group -- indicator of changing weather pattern and breaking down of high pressure ridge I was happy to enjoy for most of the week:
At the end, this particular loop I did on this day can be completed in ~6 hours, but 7-8 is more realistic -- you will need lots of photo breaks. Entire length is at park maintained trails - hands in your pocket stuff. I didn't have gps so I can't give accurate stats, but estimate is around 20 km with 600-700 vertical only.
More photos here:
This concludes my ramblings on Alberta section of CT board - at least temporarily. Hope I wasn't too hard on you guys. I'll go back spreading my spam on BC side now