Sunday, August 25, 2013

Yoho National Park

Trip Date: August 2012

Mike decided to head to the mountains for a camping trip again this summer.  Since it was the August long weekend, we wanted to go further west than Banff, as that park is pretty crazy over long weekends.  We chose the Yoho National Park.  We originally wanted to stay in the Takakkaw Falls walk-in campground, but unfortunately they were full, so we settled on the Kicking Horse Campground for the weekend.  The Kicking Horse Campground is about 205km west of Calgary along the Trans-Canada Highway.  Our ultimate goal for the weekend was to hike the Takakkaw Falls to Twins Falls trail.  

Christine relaxing in the campground
Rome in our campsite
We did a short interpretive hike called "Walk-in-the-Past" that lead to an abandoned narrow-gauge locomotive that was used to build the nearby Spiral Tunnels.  The hike itself was only 4km round-trip and had 90m of elevation gain, but you were rewarded with some great mountain views and finally the locomotive.  The trailhead was located right in the campground, so access was easy.

Chris and I in front of Mt. Field
Mt. Stephen
The commemorative sign near the locomotive had this to say about its history:
 This Baldwin 2-6-0 mogul steam engine- builders #7717 - road #6 - 36" gauge locomotive, was built for the North Western Coal & Navigation Co. in 1885.  It was originally used to carry bituminous coal on a narrow gauge railway, which connected the CPR mainline with the coal mines near Lethbridge.  In 1893 this railway track was converted to standard gauge, causing a surplus of these narrow gauge engines.  This engine was purchased in 1907 for construction of the CPR Spiral Tunnels in the Kicking Horse Valley.  When the construction was complete in 1908, this engine was abandoned here.  
Abandoned locomotive
The front of the steam engine
Laying on its side, almost forgotten
The next morning we got an early start on the Takakkaw Falls to Twin Falls hike.  The hike is approximately 17km round trip with 300m gained in elevation.  You also pass several beautiful waterfalls along the way, but these side-trips ultimately tack on distance and time to your hike, making the full day closer to 20km!  The trailhead for the hike is the Takakkaw Falls parking area.  

Just after leaving the parking area you get your first view of the Yoho Glacier in the distance
Angel's Staircase Falls is the first waterfall you pass, but it's a ways in the distance
Point Lace Falls are much nicer because you can actually get up close to them.  This side-trip was worth it!
The trail follows the Yoho River
Most people turn around at Laughing Falls.  The trail after this waterfall gets a lot less crowded and much quieter!
Christine and Rome at Laughing Falls.  Laughing Falls are fed by the Little Yoho River.
Downstream from Twin Falls, the water works its way through this canyon section
Magnificent Twin Falls
Looking downstream from Twin Falls you'll see Mt. Daly
The 180m tall Twin Falls
Twin Falls is fed from the Glacier des Poilus, which breaks into two streams just above the cliff face
The historic Twins Falls Chalet is located nearby.  The original, single-story building was built in 1908 by CPR employees as a rest stop for backpackers.  The newer, two-story cabin was completed in 1923, also by CPR workers.  Finally between 1925 and 1928, the two buildings were linked together.  Today the chalet operates as a rest spot for backpackers offering lodging for small groups and snacks.  
Back near the trailhead.  The beautiful Yoho Valley and Takakkaw Falls at left.
Yoho is named after the Cree word meaning, "awe"
Takakkaw Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in Canada, and also one of the most beautiful!  The plaque near the falls gives the following information:
When you say "Takakkaw", you are saying "it is magnificent", in Cree.  It is the right name for this 254m waterfall, one of the highest in Canada. 
Daly Glacier, 350m from the brink, feeds the falls.  The glacier, in turn, is fed by the Waputik Icefield.  Snow falling on the icefield becomes moving ice in the glacier, which melts to become Takakkaw Falls. 
In summer, the rock face roars with the plunging mountain torrent.  But in autumn, the melt is slowed, and by winter, the raging falls narrows to a ribbon of ice awaiting summer to set it free.  
Takakkaw Falls
We stopped at Takakkaw Falls on the way to Golden to celebrate my stag party.  You can read about that right here.

The Yoho River in the Yoho Valley with Wapta Mountain standing overhead
The Kicking Horse Campground has some old abandoned machinery from the CPR.  This is a Caterpillar Fifteen Grader.
The campground is also the site of the first railway construction camp in the Kicking Horse Valley.  This is an old bake oven from 1884-1885.

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