Cherchez la Vache!

It was sunny and 27 yesterday when we arrived, so I guess we couldn’t expect the great weather to hold up. Today we got our first taste of Rockies rain. It was raining when we woke up, in fact, and we thought we might be stuck indoors for the whole day, but we got up and prepared just in case. We waited it out while we re-packed for Lake O’Hara and by 9:30 the rain had stopped. We finished prepping and jumped in the car.

We drove back up the same road as yesterday, to the Takkekaw Falls parking lot, which acts as the trailhead to the Iceline trail, which our hike books says is pretty awesome. It was also much longer and more difficult than any other hike we’ve done, so we were curious about how we’d handle it. We ended up doing A LOT of switchbacks up the side of the mountains along a narrow trail, which was quite often covered with snow or running water. We got above the tree line and scrambled along rocky slopes to get even higher. We were aiming for a highpoint about 6.4km up the trail (about 700 metres higher than the valley floor) and missed slightly, but actually got (we think) an even better vantage point just a little north.

It was well worth the trip up. Not just at the top, but the whole way…we were looking out at the Yoho valley, and could see the thunderous falls directly across from us. Actually, at the highpoint, we were higher than the falls’ “launch” so we had a great view of the whole thing. We jumped streams and looked down ravines. We were high enough that we could feel the cold air rolling off the Emerald glacier just above us. A chipmunk befriended us while we sat and ate our sandwiches, but I fear we soured the relationship when we wouldn’t give him food. It was a truly spectacular venue.

We turned to head back down. About fifteen minutes after we did, some drizzle started. Then a shower. Then heavier showers. Then hail. Then showers again, then hail again, then back to heavy showers. Around the time it turned to hail we’d made it back to the trees, but they didn’t help much…not much canopy up there. Despite the downhill switchbacks being the hardest sections on Nellie’s knees, she handled it like a trooper. It took us a while to descend those 700m, so by the time we got to the valley floor we were pretty wet…good thing we brought shells with us to keep off most of the rain. In the last few minutes of the walk, just as we passed the falls, the sun came out and welcomed us back to the car. We drove home, wiped.

Two hot baths and some chocolate & wine later, we drove over to the nearby town of Field for dinner at Truffle Pigs. We’d eaten there on our last visit, and it was fantastic. I wasn’t as blown away this time, though it was still VERY good, and not at all what you’d expect in a town as small as Field, which really just looks like a train depot that washed up on the banks of the river. Spicy spring rolls and pasta and salmon and apple pie with ice cream and beer (Propeller from Halifax!) hit the spot. We even stopped at Cherchez la Vache (across the street in Truffle Pigs’ former location) to buy some treats. It was they who put together the wonderful gift basket we found in our cabin yesterday.

And now we’re home again. I think we would both be happy to go to bed early, except it doesn’t get dark here until 10:30, so I shall finish packing and then read before passing out.

Next up: two days at Lake O’Hara! The bad news is we’re already tired; the good news is that today was a harder hike than the next two days of hiking combined. Here’s hoping the weather holds up!

[tags]takkekaw falls, yoho valley, iceline trail, truffle pigs, lake o’hara[/tags]

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