Since it's been mentioned, I thought I might as well copy my N/S comments in here:
quote:Originally posted by rachelo
As this is a one-way horseshoe of a trail, I also had to decide which direction of travel would be better.
I went with North to South, and I think this was definitely the better choice, for a few reasons:
-The highlights of the trip are Helmet Falls, Tumbling Glacier, and Numa Pass/Floe Lake. Probably in the reverse order. North to South saves the best (Floe Lake) for last
-The North trailhead is at a slightly higher elevation, so you have a touch less elevation to gain over the whole trip (People with joint issues or who otherwise prefer to go up than down may consider this a downside instead.)
-The longest and least scenic day (15km of flat and some boredom) is done first, and not left for a drudging end
-Southbound hiking means that you ascend the shady side of all the passes. I didn't think of this ahead of time, but noticed it on the trail, and I think this is actually one of the strongest arguments. When it's hot, as it was for us, that shade for most of the ascent really made a difference.
-Avoid the insane highway-to-Floe and Numa-to-Tumbling ascents which are steep, shadeless, and brutal. I don't know if I'd have made it up these with the sun beating on my back. They're bloody steep..
I'd say the best arguments for south to north are the following:
-Photography - you can capture the south views in the morning before the sun is a problem, and take pictures ahead of you the rest of the day with the sun at your back.
-Ascend, rather than descend the two long steep slopes mentioned in #5 above. Though this trail's not actually really horrible on knees anywhere, due to excellent switchbacks on the steep bits.
-Get some of the steeper climbs out of the way earlier on, when fresher.
I stayed at the Marble Creek campground, and we were really slow to get out the next morning. Nice to not have to pack, though if you only have the short day to the junction, that's not so bad.
Where are you staying before Numa Creek? If it was to get in Numa Mountain, I would definitely stay at Floe Lake the extra day. It's a long trip from Numa Creek to Numa Mountain, while only a nice short one from Floe Lake. Consider 900m to Numa Pass from Numa Creek. 300m Floe Lake to Numa Creek...
Staying the extra day at Floe instead would also let you get the best photospot of the trip despite going N-S. You'd see Floe Lake from the pass first, then the next day, you'd hike back up to Numa Pass in the morning and get the excellent sun-not-in-the-south view and photos then on your way up the mountain. It's also a great hike. I'd happily hike back up the FloeLake-NumaPass trail extra while the NumaCreek-NumaPass is long and not very interesting.
Also, Floe Lake is a spectacular campground.
You can definitely still get good photos. It's not like there isn't anything good that way. Especially if you get up at a reasonable time in the morning and get hiking early, which lets you see many views without the sun straight in the south.