Practically Two Days of Rest
Passing Up a Free Ride, Twice!

July 19, 2015

What happened…

Andrew writes: It all started innocently enough. Krissi, a friend we met through Warmshowers, shared with us a picture she had taken while cycling through the Rockies last summer. The picture showed a gorgeously crafted glacier just dipping its’ toes into the vibrant water below. All taken from within her tent. We were spellbound; we were inspired! So, today we set off to get our own pictures of the Berg Lake glacier.

We had packed all of our stuff last night, except we had forgotten to pack an extra battery for the camera, and it was almost dead. We also didn’t have a few kitchen utensils that I knew would come in handy. So we waited until 8am for a) the cafe to open for breakfast and b) the Info Centre to open so that I could get what I needed from our bags.

Starting from the Mount Robson Visitor Info Centre, we cycled 2km down Kinney Lake Road to the parking lot. This marks KM#0. Then we were able to continue hike-n-biking our way to the first campsite, Kinney Lake (KM#7). The cycling portion was quite fun. There were some challenging uphill sections, that would have been doable if I wasn’t carting around 20kg on my back…or if I had a mountain bike. From here we locked up our bikes amongst a dozen other bicycles and started hiking. We also met Jimmy and Sonya, who have been travelling all over North America for the last 2 months. They have one more month left, as they drive back across Canada to their home province of Quebec.

Kinney Lake is surrounded by lush green mountains, and of course, behind us rose Mount Robson. It is not a lake as such, but actually an alluvial plain, which means that all of the river water from above gets caught up in the silt, and a backlog forms, before it can join the Robson River, which empties into the Fraser. After Whitehorn campsite (KM#11) there was a stretch of 4km that was pretty much straight uphill, and also there was no access to water. Yet after the steep section subsides it is as if I was walking on another planet. Gone was the lush valley below, now replaced by a sub-alpine valley, with dozens of waterfalls cascading down all around me. These were fed by mammoth glaciers and pockets of snow on the mountains all around.

Our campsite, Emperor Falls (KM#16), had a fantastic viewpoint just before it. The falls come roaring down, and then make their way at an angle back down to near Whitehorn, and the White Falls. We stopped to make lunch, and after 5 hours of hiking, I was ready for a nap. The food helped put a little bit of punch back into my step, and I was also able to unload my backpack, which had been carrying most of the camping supplies. So after an hour of food and rest, we continued our journey towards Berg Lake.

Again, another steep climbing section put us up into the alpine. The landscape was full of rock; like walking on the moon. To our right, there were a few rivers and streams which must create Emperor Falls. Like thin ribbons they wove their way across the valley floor. In many places, we could hop across them. In some however, their power was quite fierce; especially when they were from snowpack up above. After an hour of hiking, we made it to Marmot campsite (KM#19).

Marmot is on the western shores of Berg Lake, facing Mist Glacier. It’s a nice little spot, and I think that if it had been available, it would be where I would have liked to camp the most. It was quite busy too! People were in the water, dipping their toes, or pumping water through filters, or just lying around resting.

Mmmm…rest….My mind was starting to go wonky at this point. I was tired. I’d seen glaciers, I’d seen lakes. I was ready to just call it a day. Still, determined to make it the whole way, we pressed on to Berg Lake campsite (KM#21). Again, it was a hive of activity. Jimmy and Sonya were there, just sitting on a log, looking out over the water. Every now and then, the great Berg glacier would rumble and deposit some fresh ice cubes into the lake. We pulled up some chairs beside them for a chat. Then as it was getting late in the day (1800hrs), we headed back down to Emperor Falls, while the frenchies enjoyed dinner by the glacier. It was another 90 minutes of hiking that I could have done without, especially since I had already seen everything there was to see. My inner 6-year old became my outer self, and I was cranky and irritable, and starving!

Back at camp, Amanda and I teamworked dinner. When it was well under way, I excused myself to go bathe in the river below our tent site. After weeks of bathing in rivers and lake across BC, I wasn’t really prepared for the “fresh from the glacier” feeling that crept across my body, causing it to tingle all over. At this point I was only submerged up to my ankles. I ended up hurriedly hand washing myself, and then lay naked on a rock, staring up at Robson peak, high above.

Perhaps the jolt of crisp, clean water was just what I needed to help put everything into perspective. I felt invigorated. I felt fresh, and clean, and alive. I recalled all that I had said and done over the previous twelve hours, and everything sat in my head with amazing clarity. More than anything, I was left feeling that I really enjoy the pace of life that I have shifted to. Taking it one day at a time, not needing to rush things, really savouring the moments, like now. A cool evening breeze rushed down the river, whisking over me, causing me to shiver, and wakening me from my reverie. I rejoined Amanda and we had dinner quickly to escape the mosquitoes.

Later that night, just before bed, I crept out of the tent and stared up at the might Robson Peak, highest of heights in these Rocky Mountains, and watched the first stars come out. Orion’s Belt was in almost perfect alignment with the peak. It was such a fantastic sight. I fell into a deep sleep, yet in my head, my thoughts were still as clear as the icy water rushing past below me, and I dreamed well.


Amanda writes:
I woke up excited. Krissi’s photo was something that I’ll never forget and as Andrew said we wanted to see it first hand. Andrew and I don’t hike often. As a matter of fact in the year we’ve been on the road, this will be our second hike. And this is our first ever overnight hike. I was thrilled!

Right from the very beginning the views were spectacular. Lakes, waterfalls, rivers, mountain peaks and just endless beauty. Sometimes I’m surprised we made it as fast as we did because I just kept stopping to take photos. The packs on our backs were something we are not accustomed to either. Andrew’s was far heavier than mine and I could see him slowing and noticed his usual happy demeanour was buried beneath the weight of the bag. After reaching our campground and setting up camp we had some food. That helped a little bit but still the hike took a lot out of him. It’s so rare to see him so physically exhausted that it affects his mood.

The hike and views were absolutely incredible. All of our pictures sell it short. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything so stunning and grand and magnificent. Huge flowing waterfalls everywhere, glaciers on every side and water so green and clear you couldn’t be sure which was the real mountain and which was the reflection. Reaching Berg Lake was such an adrenaline rush and one that will not soon be forgotten. To any traveller, bicycle tourist or otherwise; don’t drive past! When you see the Mount Robson Visitor Centre, stop; go inside. Get information and even if you can’t spare two days to do the Berg Lake hike, take a few hours and hike to Kinney Lake. You won’t regret it. I know we have a lot of this great world left to see, but for now this one tops my list. Krissi thank you for inspiring us to make the journey.


Amanda writes:

Our ride was nice today, not too hard and we knew it wouldn’t be too far. Arriving at the visitor information centre was great. Mount Robson is spectacular! We had a quick conversation and decided to do the hike and made the reservation for the trail pass. Next up figure out how to handle all of our belongings as we hiked. After arranging with the visitor centre we then had to decide where to sleep. It’s seems like only two weeks ago that I would have felt uneasy if I didn’t know where I was sleeping at 7pm on a particular day. Now I just knew we’d figure it out; maybe I really am becoming a hippie. It’s probably all the positive energy that Kacey gave us today. Kacey is a nice man who introduced himself today outside the visitor centre. He himself a bit of a nomad and a great fellow to swap travel stories with, ended our conversation with sending us “love and sharing his positive energy with us”. Five years ago I probably would have thought, damn hippie; but today I just responded with a continuous head nod and said “thanks man, right back at ya!”.

Finding the stealth spot was great. Just needed a little patience. Sometimes I feel badly about not paying for the big sites, especially when there are signs that say “please camp only in designated areas”. Then my feelings turn to content as I’m reminded that the designated camping facilities are designed for those that like a shower and flushing toilet every day and we are okay without it from time to time. I mean we need to practice for other countries that have neither. In any event I am at peace as we leave zero footprint. We pack out what we pack in and we are out of sight so we don’t encourage others. Peace and love man.


Today’s Photographs

No photos
Practically Two Days of Rest
Passing Up a Free Ride, Twice!