Monday, October 3, 2011

Hike to Twin Falls - 9.25.2011

September in Canada. The time when the leaves start changing colors, and the switch from summer to fall (or possibly winter sometimes...) starts. This weekend, since my best mate Tim had never seen Takkakaw Falls, near Field B.C., in Yoho National Park, I figured I'd bring him out and show him places he hadn't seen. We talked about hiking to a lodge at Twin Falls, and I had read recently how Twin Falls was another very impressive waterfall.

I picked him up at 6:45am and we headed out towards Field. The trip was easy as winter hasn't hit Alberta or the Eastern part of B.C. yet, and the scenery was amazing as it always it. It was supposed to be another hot day of close to 30 degrees celcius. We've had a fantastic summer this year, probably the best in about 10 years that I can remember.
On the way down the Yoho Valley Road, we didn't see any wildlife, but when you near the falls, you turn a corner and WHAM! There it is in it's majestic beauty!! We arrived there at around 9:15am, and it was a bit cool as the sun hadn't come out yet. We talked to a nice couple from France, as we took photos and video of the falls. Not as impressive as it is at runoff time, but no matter when you come here, Takkakaw (Cree for "Magnificent") is awe inspiring.
After spending 15 minutes or so at the falls we decided to get going on our 18km (round trip) hike to Twin Falls Chalet. At about the 2km mark we visited Point Lace Falls, which would be another impressive waterfall at runoff time. Must come back early summer. At this point, it was really starting to get quite warm, as the sun had come up now.
We then started to head uphill towards Laughing Falls. Along the fairly steep climb, for a guy that apparently doesn't like hills, Tim practically ran up it. I was struggling since it was my first strenuous activity since October of 2010 due to a hernia. This was my first activity since the operation had fully healed and I was interested on how it was going to handle the hike.
Part of the way up there were a couple of trails that led towards the canyon. Not the "main" hiking trail, but some offshoots that are obviously quite well travelled. We then walked one of those side trails along the Yoho River, getting some impressive views of the deep canyon and some fantastic shots of a small waterfall with a rainbow in the spray.
We got to Laughing Falls Campground, and would be an amazing place to camp for a day or so. Obviously Bears would be a concern, and my guess is that there would be some Cougar out there too. I was hoping to see a Bear on the trail, but that didn't work out, unfortunately. After looking at the river by the campground, we didn't see or really hear a waterfall....we though a bunch of rapids was laughing falls, and it made us laugh because it was a joke lol! But, as soon as we kept going just past the campground, there it! This was a fairly tall waterfall, and it was LOUD!! Although runoff is truly over, and the flow of water from the glaciers that feed all of these waterfalls, is slowing down, there was a TON of water coming over this fall. Truly an amazing thing to see and hear.
Heading away from Laughing Falls the trail remained fairly flat, until one point which was about 30 minutes from Twin Falls campground. It was quite steep going up, but of course...we ended up going down again. That's when we arrived at the campground. It was really cool! Fantastic campsites, and even a common picnic area where there was a food stand to keep the food in the air away from the bears.
After taking some more photos there, we headed up the final steep (and for me, grueling..) climb, to Twin Falls. It was quite the elevation gain, and we were both feeling the thin air. Here we were sitting at about 5700 feet above sea level. I didn't really bring enough water as I couldn't find my water "bladder" for my backpack. We stopped on the trail and had a bit of water and a small bite to eat. I was really feeling the climb at this point. My leg muscles were screaming at me (well, not literally LOL) wondering what the heck I was doing to them....but we weren't turning back now!!
We turned a corner on the trail and all of sudden we could hear the falls! Couldn't see them, but we could hear them. Some more trudging on and we got to the Chalet.
Here's a little history on the chalet:
The Canadian Pacific Railway constructed the building in stages, beginning around 1908 with a one-storey cabin for patron taking backcountry tours. In about 1923 the company added a two-storey structure to create a larger and more attractive chalet.
Unfortunately, there aren't any "specific" dates, but I'll accept the approximates that the Historical Sites and Monuments Board of Canada can provide :)
There, we could see Twin Falls. Twin Falls is aptly named for the two chutes at the top of the falls. At 5,980 feet above see level, we walked to the upper deck of the Chalet, and sat down and had lunch. The sites, and sounds were amazing. The old Chalet from the early 1900's, the falls, it truly was a peaceful place. I really didn't want to leave and come back that night to the concrete jungle of Calgary.
After about 40 minutes, we walked down to a viewing spot, and found a map that showed 3 more viewing areas. The closest one to the falls was fantastic as the photos had to be quick to keep spray from getting on the lens. The noise was amazing. Watching the videos now, you just don't realize how noisey they are.
Well, it was now time to start heading back to the car, as we had another couple of stops to do.
The hike back was easier for me as there was definitely less uphill going back. My right foot had 2 blisters, I could feel back was sore from the pack I hadn't carried in well over a year, but it was truly worth any pain that I went through, or would go through over the next 4 days after the hike.
Once back at the car, I wanted to take Tim to Emerald Lake, as that was another place he hadn't seen. Emerald Lake truly is a beautiful place. Extremely busy in the summer time though, so if you do visit in the summer, make sure you go there early (8am at the latest) or else you'll be struggling to get the shots you want, as the bridge over to the lodge, is normally flooded with tourists that are on coach tours.
After stopping off for some dinner (and a couple of bevvies...) at "The Drake" in Canmore, we headed back to Calgary. It always is slightly depressing leaving the beauty of the Rockies, to come back to the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but I always know that I have my weekends where I can escape to the mountains!! :)

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