Floe Lake – Numa Creek Parking Lot, July 16, 2011
Day 1 Trail Head to Floe Lake, 10.5 km 720 m elevation gain, 5 hrs
This was our first backcountry camping trip in the Canadian Rockies. We could not have picked a better destination than Floe Lake and doing a loop is always fun. Unfortunately, the bridge over Vermilion River to get to the parking lot at the end of the trip was washed out in flooding in 2017, so the Numa Creek Trail is now closed and the loop is not possible at this time.
We are not the best at making alpine starts! We arrived at the trailhead to Floe Lake at about 10:30 am and were ready to go at 10:50 am. Looking at the pictures, our packs were quite overloaded, but the important thing is that we went. Links was also carrying a backpack. We limited him to 15% of his body weight, or about 8 lbs. He had his blanket, a sleeping pad, food and 500 ml of water.
The trail is very straightforward. It leaves the parking lot and quickly enters a wooded area that shows the scars of a fire in 2003. Nature is coming back to the area, the ground is a lush green, but the trees that are still standing are blackened, dead trunks.
After 10 minutes of easy hiking we came to a bridge to cross over Vermilion River. The trail was easy to follow. Forty minutes later, we crossed over Floe Creek. We followed Floe Creek up the valley, hiking on the north side of the valley below Numa Mountain.
There was no water on the hike. Although Floe Creek was just a few hundred feet below us, it would take scrambling through very dense brush to get to it. I was very happy that we had brought water for Links with us. Sometimes dogs can find enough water out of streams along the way, but on this hike, there was no available water.
The first 8 km rises gently 320 m. We arrived at the headwall just before 3:00 pm.
The remaining 2.5 km is a grunt, climbing 400 m and finishing in a small meadow that ends at the campground at Floe Lake. Links was feeling hot as we approached the meadow, he found some snow in the shade of some trees and rolled around in the snow, one of his favourite activities.
We arrived at the campground at 3:55 pm. We dropped our packs and explored the campground and lake. Floe Lake is in a majestic setting. With the Rockwall (an almost unbroken massive grey limestone cliff that runs along the trail for 30 km) cradling the lake between Floe Peak and Foster Peak, there was still ice floating in the lake.
We had our tent set up by 4:30 pm and the campsite was cleaned up by 5:00 pm, time for dinner.
The temperature dropped quickly, we had fleece jackets and toques to stay warm. We ate in the little picnic area, complete with very robust tables. There were lockers for our backpacks and food. There were no other campers that day.
We wandered around some more in the fading light. Found the Wardens Cabin; it was empty. Sometime during the evening, two Wardens did arrive, we met them in the morning.
We got into the tent and read and played card games, and read for the early part of the evening.
I was really happy that we had brought along the plastic tarp. It rained during the evening, and little did I know that the tent fly was no longer waterproof. Since we had put the plastic tarp under the fly, we stayed dry all evening.
This was the first time sleeping with Links in a small tent. He was pretty good at staying on his mat, but his blanket kept coming off as he moved around. I had a fitful night’s sleep, as I woke up repeatedly to readjust Links’ sleeping arrangement to make sure that he got a good sleep. For later trips, I solved this problem by purchasing Links an oversized fleece dog jacket. It was both warm and roomy, but since it fastened on with velcro, I was assured it would stay on him all night.