August long weekend we camped at Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park. It seems to be a little bit of an annual trip for us now. It's also a spot that's becoming more and more popular with the camp folk. Takakkaw is a "walk in" campground so you have to park in a lot and either cart your stuff up or walk it up to the campsites. It's first come first serve so you have to get there pretty early on a long weekend. Bryce and I left the city on a Thursday and the campground was already full by 3pm. So we stopped at Castle Mountain campground on the way and decided to take our chances in the morning. One thing we have learned from any campground is that people are always leaving, no matter what day of the week it is.
On Friday morning we woke up bright and early and headed over to claim our back country site. Low and behold, several people were slowly moving out and making room. By 10am our camp was set up and Bryce had a roaring fire going. New this year is the addition of a few more bear lockers so now we didn't have to walk all the way down to the washrooms to gather food supplies. The only issue is that our cooler did not fit inside the lockers so we had to store it in the designated bear proof cooler room. The fine staff at Takakkaw informed us of a black bear in the area and reminded us to be extra careful with garbage and what not.
We have stayed in this area before but it was winter then, and nothing but snow. It was nice to actually see this "Emerald" Lake others speak of. The sun wasn't even out and the lake was so blue, it was rather pretty. We did a little hike around a peaceful pond then headed back to the car. This place was as busy as Lake Louise or Banff. On the way back to the campsite we stopped at the Natural Bridge. The water used to rush over the solid rock but over time seeped through the cracks and soon through holes until it burst right through, forming a natural rock bridge above it. Pretty cool.
Saturday morning we woke up to very cold temperatures. Being in a valley, the sun doesn't peak above the mountains until late morning. By 9am, the sun was finally shinning on us and all was good in the world again. We started packing for our hike up the Iceline Trail. I have been preparing for this hike for several weeks now. I bought a pair of Salomon hikers for 20 bucks off of Kijijiji and was doing stair climbs and extra walks up Nose Hill. It was a good thing because the first 3.7 km rose 600 m in elevation. That was probably the most extreme climbing we have ever hiked. The full trail is about 20 km, but we took the out and back option which worked out to be about 14-15 km. We had great weather and lots of company so bears and such weren't an issue.
On Sunday morning we packed up our campsite, unloaded everything into the car and repacked what we needed into our backcountry packs. We were good to go! We hiked back up to Takakkaw, topped up our water and hiked a total of 3.9 km to the Laughing Falls campground. Our next adventure! We really wanted to try backcountry camping and knowing exactly what to expect from Laughing Falls we decided to make this our first trip. The hike in only took us an hour and there was only one really demanding climb. This was a cinch. We found the second last camping spot and set up camp, stringing our food up the bear pole. The Bear pole is a pulley system that allows small packs to be hoisted up a pole about 20 feet above. It was pretty luxurious compared to canoe trips where you had to find your own tree and rig up your own pulley system. Shortly after dinner we had a little thunderstorm and retreated into our tent for about an hour. It was so cold that I had to get out and walk to warm up. We saw lots of sore hikers that got caught in the rain. No campfires were permitted so we took a fast paced walk down the trail and back to get warmed up. We got ready for bed and went to sleep.
The next morning was a bit cool so we ate some oatmeal, packed up camp and hiked back to the car. We arrived just before lunch so we headed into town (Field) and ate at the Sliding Cafe. We then drove back to Calgary.
All in all it was a great trip! We had no problems and our plans for camping and hiking worked out perfectly. We are planning to do this again but maybe for an extra few nights and with more hiking from the back country. Now that we have the gear and some experience we are excited to see more and do more. If you are planning to do any hiking or back country camping please do your research. Knowing about your environment, the extreme weather conditions of the mountains, and necessary wildlife precautions makes a world of difference in keeping your comfortable while hiking and camping. Book early, plan and be aware!
About the Author
Name: Amanda Pickford
My name is Amanda Pickford and I live in Calgary, Alberta a stones throw away from the Canadian Rockies. I'm a graduate of Alberta College of Art and Design with my Graphic Design Certificate. I have many hobbies and one is photography. I love to travel and document my adventures on my blog along with my photography and crafts. I have a small business on Etsy and also a blog for my shop called "Dubbele Dutch Crafts" I Knit and crochet custom and commission projects by request. My other passions include mountain biking, disc golf, camping and hiking. If summer was all year round and i could work and play outside all day I would! i love Fresh air and freedom!