Garry and Lynda arrived first, followed by James then Peter and Brenda. As Dave was not scheduled to arrive until later we assembled without him for the mandatory orientation for over-night hikers using the Berg Lake Trail. The orientation consists of watching a 10 minute video then meeting with one of the staff at the Mt. Robson Visitor Centre to go through the rules. At this time we were also advised that bears had been observed in recent days in 3 areas along the trail.
The Berg Lake Trail is a 22 km hike which starts near the Mt. Robson Visitor Centre and goes around behind that famous mountain to Berg Glacier-fed Berg Lake. Our plan was to take 2 days to hike in and to hike out, with overnight stays at the Whitehorn campground and to spend 2 nights at Berg Lake. We would start our 5-day hike the next morning.
Following the orientation I followed James, his dad Fred, and the 5th wheel trailer across the highway to the campground. Fred was going to enjoy spending time in the campground while we did the hike. After setting up the trailer and my tent we headed up the road to the cabins at Mt. Robson Ranch to join the others for dinner.
Mt. Robson Ranch was billed as being rustic with a view. Without question the cabins were rustic and the view of the famous mountain was amazing!
Breakfast the next morning was back up at the cabins before we re-assembled at the Berg Lake Trailhead. With our gear loaded on our backs, we were off!
The first 7 km to Kinney Lake is a popular day hike and mountain bike ride so the trail is fairly well populated. After stopping for lunch at Kinney Lake we continued on our way. Past the lake mountain bikes are not allowed and pretty much the only other people you meet are other over-night backpackers.
While there are a few short climbs, the trail to Whitehorn Campground is fairly easy going. After crossing a suspension bridge we entered the campground to end our first day, 11 km hike. We managed to find 4 tent pads that were adjacent to each other and soon tents were up and we were relaxing until supper.
Everyone was responsible for bringing their own food so at supper it was fun comparing the various dehydrated meals people had brought.
Earlier, while we were having lunch at Kinney Lake, a park ranger had stopped by and had suggested, that to avoid the heat on the climb out of Whitehorn, we might want to get an early start. Taking her advice, we were on the trail again by about 7:30 the next morning. Living up to its reputation, the 4 km climb after our overnight stop was fairly strenuous. While it was warm enough as it was, we were happy that we had not delayed our start until later in the morning when it got quite hot.
Once past Emperor Falls the worst of the climbing was over and we enjoyed a slightly easier hike, along with incredible scenery, for the rest of the way to Berg Lake.
Berg Lake, and Berg Glacier that feeds it, are an absolutely beautiful backdrop to the campground. It makes one feel pretty privileged that they have the health to be able make this trek to be able to enjoy this view.
Facilities at the campground are limited but they do provide bear boxes (for storing food and anything else with a scent that might attract critters), pit toilets, and a shelter for cooking and eating. There are lots of streams along the way from which to get water.
Following lunch, James, Garry, Peter and Brenda struck off to hike the Mumm Basin trail. As I had developed some blisters on my feet I elected to spend the afternoon resting. On their return, several hours later, they reported that it had been a pretty strenuous climb but that the scenery had made the effort worthwhile.
The following morning, after breakfast, I joined James, Dave, Peter and Brenda for a hike to Snowbird Pass. The total distance to the pass and back is 22 km. The trail starts off as a fairly easy hike along the valley floor beside the river flowing down from Robson Glacier. Soon you start to climb and the view Berg Glacier recedes behind you as more and more of Robson Glacier appears ahead. The trail is fairly narrow in spots and much of it is loose shale. At times you are picking your way upwards through large boulders before emerging once again on a fairly well-defined trail.
Suddenly, as you round a corner, a huge alpine meadow bordered by a stream and waterfall opens up in front of you. The meadow was a beautiful canvas of multicolored flowers against a green backdrop. The flowers were just starting to come into their prime. I could only imagine that in a couple more weeks the meadow would be spectacular.
By now my legs and feet were telling me that I’d had enough climbing. We stopped in the meadow for lunch. After a rest and something to eat I regained some energy but decided I would head back to camp. Peter and Brenda elected to return with me while Dave and James decided to press on to the pass, about 45 minutes further. Before leaving we had a good view of a couple of marmots playing around some rocks, as well as some goats that had been slowly getting closer to us on the other side of the stream.
Our return was the reverse of our outbound trip other than it was mostly downhill. It was late afternoon by the time we got back to camp and we were all fairly tired and warm. It felt good to soak my feet in the ice cold water in the stream coming down from Toboggan Falls although I could only stand to immerse them for about 20 seconds at a time!
While we had been on our hike, Garry and Lynda had done a short (30 min) sojourn to Adolphus Lake. As the lake is not glacier-fed, it was actually warm enough to swim in! Following Dave and James’ arrival back in camp we enjoyed dinner and spent time sharing our experiences for the day.
The next morning it was time to start the trek back down the trail. Not long after leaving the campground we encountered a marmot along the trail who seemed to be totally oblivious to our presence. It made for a great photo op!
At the far end of Berg Lake we stopped for a final view of the lake and glacier. There were a few large chunks of ice floating close to shore. Garry and Peter decided they would wade in to break off some pieces for our water bottles. In no time at all we were enjoying ice cold water.
Before we left camp I had scrounged some duct tape from Garry to wrap around my feet to cover my blisters. It was a godsend as I made it back to Whitehorn campground without any significant increase in size of the blisters. Like me, Lynda was also becoming a “duct tape addict”. I made a mental note to carry duct tape on future backpacking excursions!
It was definitely easier descending the 4 km from Emperor Falls to Whitehorn. We arrived in early afternoon and had lunch. We spent the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the views. Unfortunately the view was hindered slightly by the smoke that had drifted in from various forest fires in BC and Alberta.