July 22, 2022, Takakkaw Falls Backcountry Parking Lot to Yoho Lake CG, 5 km, 318 m elevation gain, 15 m elevation loss, 1 hr 54 minutes.
It takes about 90 minutes to drive and park at the backcountry parking lot at Takakkaw Falls from home. Our drive was mostly highway driving but the last part of the drive down the Yoho Valley Road is quite slow.
As always the parking lot at the falls was packed. I was a little concerned about finding a parking spot and was hoping that our late arrival would see some available parking spots as people headed elsewhere for dinner. We were rewarded with a choice of a couple of parking spots at the backcountry parking lot at the far west end of the road. After getting our packs on and Margaux’s pack on we headed back down the road heading east for a quick 1 km walk to where the trail starts at the Whiskey Jack Hostel, it was 4:45 pm. Normally starting so late would be a little stressful but it was only a 5 km hike to our campground at Yoho Lake so we took full advantage of our short day to have a relaxing start. It took us just 12 minutes to arrive at The Whiskey Jack Hostel. The Whiskey Jack Hostel has a beautiful setting with a splendid view of Takakkaw Falls but unfortunately is closed for renovations and repairs. Hosteling International is hoping for a reopening in 2025 but there is no fixed target date. From the tone of the email I received from Hosteling International have my doubts that the hostel will reopen. We spent a couple of minutes at looking at Takakkaw Falls and taking in the splendor of the valley before heading up the the trail. The trail quickly goes sharply uphill shortly after leaving the hostel rising 265 m in 1.8 km through numerous switchbacks on nicely graded trails.
After a few minutes on the trail I spotted a large group of hikers coming down the trail towards so we pulled off the trail to let them by. I had Margaux facing me and was giving her treats to distract her as the group passed by. It looked like they were on an official Parks Canada guided hike. One gentleman said “good doggie” and made to pet Margaux. Margaux gave a little warning grrrr and the man pulled back his hand. While nothing happened I was a little nervous of how Margaux was going to be when we passed people on the trail which was going to happen often on this trip. I need not have worried.
Once the group had passed us by we continued on our way up the trial quickly arriving at the junction with the Iceline Trail. Leaving the junction our trail continued to climb just a little then flattened out as it made its way to Yoho Lake. We came across a little creek crossing which for most dogs would not be a major obstacle, but Margaux can find adventure in the little things. We do not know what Margaux was exposed to in her puppy days, we adopted her as a pandemic return when she was 14 months old, but we know that she had never seen flowing water before we went hiking. The first time we came across a small stream Margaux refused to cross it. She has gotten much better with repeated encounters but she is still uneasy in the water and is very wary while crossing streams. After taking a few slurps of water Margaux daintily made her way quickly across the stream. Another successful stream crossing to help boost her confidence. I was quite please how Margaux reacted to the water since I knew that there would be more crossings tomorrow on the Iceline and that some were much bigger.
With the bulk of the elevation behind us we made good progress down the trail and quickly arrived at Yoho Lake. The campground was not full but it was busy. We located a campsite near the back of the campground and dropped our packs. It was 6:20 pm and time to set up the tent and make dinner.
The campground did fill up and there were two other dogs among the campers. Both of the the dogs (owners) kept their distance and Margaux never seemed to take a lot of interest in either of them.
After dinner we spent the balance of the evening out on the Parks Canada Red Chairs with a stunning view of Yoho Lake complete with a perfect reflection of the cliffs of Mt Wapta in the water.
We hung up the food on the supplied bear hang and cables and headed to bed about 8:30 pm. It had not been a big day but just being out on trail and enjoying the experience with Margaux was a big deal.
Margaux did not charge into the tent but did go in willingly. It took Margaux a few minutes to settle down in the tent. She finally snuggled up as close as she could to my sleeping bag and settled in for the night.
One of my lasting impressions of the first night was how much quieter it was than our night at Quaite Valley. In stark contrast to the symphony of bird songs we were serenaded by at Quaite Valley there was almost no sounds coming from the forests at Yoho Lake.
Good night from Day 1 of our adventure in Yoho NP with Margaux.