letsgohiking.ca: Berg Lake Trail
Wonderful. By Nature. Formidable. Naturellement.

July 20th, 2015

What happened…

Andrew writes: Waking up to pancakes and eggs is a great treat, especially when the backdrop for breakfast is the peak of Mount Robson. Dark clouds threatened to storm down on us, and in fact we did get caught in a bit of a downpour as we hiked the 9km down to where we had stashed our bikes at Kinney Lake. Of course, as soon as we got on our bikes the sun came out and peace and order were restored in the world.

The 9km descent back to the Visitor Information Centre was a real thrill. It didn’t matter that my bikes is made for “touring”; that I don’t have knobby tires; that there isn’t any suspension. When I pointed my beloved Diablo3 down the mountain, she came alive in my hands. The terrain wasn’t super-gnarly, or technical, it was mostly double-track, but downhill biking is a passion of mine, and I put all of my skills to the test to get the most out of the trip down the mountain. My backpack felt weightless, and the only sore muscle I had at the end of the ride was from my huge smile. Judging by the wild-eyed look, and great big smile Amanda had when she pulled into the finish, I could tell she felt the same way!

Sonya and Jimmy, the Quebecers from yesterday had beaten us down by a few minutes, and they were all-loaded up into their Mercedes Sprinter van. We stopped and talked a few minutes, and they offered us a ride to Jasper. Then they offered to take just our baggage. I still really have a difficult time accepting gratitude from people. My only reason for saying no both times, is because I didn’t want to inconvenience them with our bikes and all of our gear. Would it all fit? Would they mind waiting while we get it all together? Do we camp with them when we get to Jasper? These questions pop into my head at light speed and I just instantly throw them up as roadblocks. Of course, as we were riding down the road after, I’m second-guessing myself the whole time. Amanda was fine with my decision, but I kept looking back behind me, hoping to see their van, so that I could maybe ask if, maybe, we could have a ride after all.

Thanking the nice ladies at the Visitor Centre for storing our bags while we hiked, we set ourselves up under the deck in behind the building, and fortunately we were under cover. A huge thunderstorm rolled in, right over top of where we were, with nary a second between the flashes of lightning and the crash of thunder. When it rains here, it pours, and pours. Maybe that free ride to Jasper would’ve been a good idea. We finished up re-packing all of our bags, and then went to the Robson Cafe for lunch. I look forward to “fast food” now because, well, it isn’t kraft dinner; which we eat a lot of! We saw Jimmy and Sonya’s Sprinter Van in the parking lot, and they were just getting ready to pull out. I had a chance then to go and ask, but in my stubborn way, I didn’t. I guess if it was meant to be, it would be.

After lunch, we hopped back into the Visitor Centre to use WiFi, and as we did so, the power went out. More thunder storming. Fortunately the generator kicked in, and we had WiFi while it was raining goats and chickens outside. We decided to ride the 50km to the Lucerne campground, which Google Maps said was only about 3hr away. Yeah, right. Not at our turtle-speed.

At 1600hrs, we set off. Waiting for Amanda at the top of the first hill I noticed snow lining the north-facing slopes at the top. Wow. It must be summer in Canada, eh?? This first climb of 6% was followed by two more big climbs, and after 2 hours we had only cycled about 15km. Finally after Red Pass (named for a Townsite, not a killer hill), the terrain levelled out a bit, into just rolling ups and downs. I noticed a couple of cars stopped on the side of the road up ahead, and my worst fears were realized; feeding bears. In situations like this I worry about a) being eaten by a hungry bear and b) getting run over by an inattentive driver who is watching the bears, not our bikes. We rolled past, and Amanda didn’t see the bear, so she said afterward that it didn’t count. It’s as if it never happened.

Rather than paying $30 for a campsite, in a campground full of RVs and German tourists, we elected to pull in to small parking area about 40km from Jasper. This is the start of the Moose River Trail, which people can hike back to Mount Robson. It looks like several groups have already been on the trail this summer. My favourite comment was from an American group that completed the trail last week, it said, “Bring a boat!”. The views from the parking area are pretty stellar too. The highway on one side and the train tracks on the other are just far enough away that it won’t be an issue for noise while we are sleeping either.

The plan is to casually cycle into Jasper tomorrow and check-in with Bruce, our Warmshowers host. Maybe we’ll run into Sonya and Jimmy, and we can have a drink together. I hope that they’re able to do that hike that they wanted to do!

Amanda writes:
The hike down the mountain was still beautiful, even with the rain and some cloud cover. It was actually kind of fun being in the electrical storm that thundered around us. It’s so loud when it bounces off the surrounding mountains. The trail was a bit slippery because of the rain, but I just took it slow. There is one steep section that is a 4km and a gain of about 500 meters. It was so hard on my knees at one point I considered walking backwards. It’s times like these that I must remind myself that (like so many other people) knees sustain injuries over active lives and you need to nurse them a bit. And while the pain almost brought tears to my eyes I was glad that I could do it without my knee brace and without my knees buckling. I think I’ll call my friend Megan who is storing my knee brace and tell her it’s time to kick it to the curb.

After the hike down and intermittent rain we reached our bikes. Man I miss cross-country riding! I didn’t remember the ride in being uphill as much as it apparently was, but the downhill was AWESOME! Everything I’d ever learned from riding clinics came back with ease and I just bombed down the trail smiling ear to ear and singing out loud (inside of course). What an incredible end to the hike.

We rolled up to the visitor centre just in time because the first of a couple of big flash rain storms blew through. After repacking our bikes while sitting inside the visitor centre using the wifi we overheard another person telling the staff that the trail had a land slide. Can’t say I was totally surprised because the rain was pretty fierce. I actually found a video of the trail washout and I can identify exactly where it was. We were lucky to get out when we did.

The late ride was actually nice for a change and our wild camp seemed manageable too because I knew that would have a warm shower and roof over our head tomorrow. I really liked today. Something a little different and I’m really learning to embrace just rolling with whatever comes our way; hail, snow, hikes and even some sore knees.

Today’s Photographs

letsgohiking.ca: Berg Lake Trail
Wonderful. By Nature. Formidable. Naturellement.