Day 2 Laughing Falls Campground to Twin Falls to Takakkaw Falls Parking Lot , 12.3 km, 500m Elevation Gain, 600 m Elevation Loss, 31 hrs 45 min.
With an early evening I was awake by 6 am. We had a deadline today but I was not in too much of a rush and Volcano was sleeping so I stayed in my sleeping bag until 6:30 am when I felt it was time to get up. Volcano sleeps in an oversized fleece jacket for dogs. I know she is a sled dog but she has been spending her time indoors and does not have the coat that she once had. Went and retrieved our food from the bear hang and headed over to make breakfast. Volcano got fed before anything else. It was great to get up early as we had the eating area all to ourselves.
Ate my Logan Bread while waiting for the coffee to boil then headed back to tear down camp. Was pretty happy with my tear-down procedure. Taking care of a dog and having a coffee for breakfast I was packed up and on the trail less than an hour after getting out of the tent. Other people in the camp where just staring to appear when we headed out on our hike for the day. In fact when we came back through 2.5 hours later there was still people in camp.
The trail cuts through the top of the campground. At this time of year there are a couple small streams running though the trail and the campground. When I came back with Siobhan at the end of August everything was dry. A quick look at Laughing Falls and we were on our way. We had only covered 200 m when we came to the junction with the trail up Little Yoho Valley. The trail leads to Little Yoho Campground and some amazing hiking but was not on our agenda today. We stayed right and headed on our way to Twin Falls. I had a few concerns at first on whether we would actually make it to Twin Falls. Volcano was looking disinterested and I really did not feel like forcing her to continue if she really did not want. A good bowel movement and we were off (and I do pack out my dogs poo, double bag it inside a ziploc). The trail is in excellent condition and only rises 70 m over the distance to Twin Falls CG, 2.5 km. We arrived at Twin Falls CG at 7 am hiking at a tad over 5 kph. We paused briefly to look at the campground. Checking out the eating area by the river before heading up to Twin Falls. The hike to the Twin Falls Chalet and the viewing to the base of the falls is only 1.5 km and 143 m of elevation.
We covered the trail to Twin Falls Day Use area in 25 minutes taking a few breaks for photographs. The trail stays surprising close to the river and provides wonderful views of small canyons and gorges the river has carved as it tumbles to the valley below. Volcano was showing no hesitation and was off the front like the Lead Dog she is.
It was 8:25 am when we arrived at the Twin Falls Day use area. Almost exactly 1 hour since leaving Laughing Falls CG. The lodge structure at Twin Falls was under renovations but despite tarps and scaffolding everywhere it did not look like a lot was going on. We made our way over to the area to view the falls. We met an older couple (older than me for sure) and talk for about 20 minutes. They were pretty funny. The women had all current gear on but the guy was old school. Big leather boots, external frame pack and a camera using film. If I remember correctly (I should take notes) they were professors from Calgary. After saying our goodbyes we made our way over to view the falls. Even from this distance the falls are quite spectacular. Apparently early in the 1900’s Parks Canada tried to blast the falls the make the chutes more equal. They initially succeeded in blocking one off entirely before correcting their error. Best let Mother Nature carve out the natural wonders of the world. Upon leaving the falls we headed to the east as we were going to take the Connector that passes by Marpole Lake and traverses under the Whaleback as it heads over to Little Yoho Valley Trail before joining the main trail at Laughing Falls to get back to the trailhead.
It was only a 600 m downhill walk to Marpole Lake. Immediately upon leaving the bridge the trail reduced to just a narrow path through the woods. There is definitely a lot less maintenance on the connector as opposed to the main trails. The sun was staring to rise high in the clear blue skies. We had been on the move for 1 hr 40 min and Volcano smartly stopped for a drink in the lake.
On the Viewranger App there are two trails leaving Marpole Lake. The lower trail goes through the woods and has been decommissioned. I did not see the junction for the lower trail but we did come across the junction where the two trails rejoined at the other end. The trail head uphill for the 1.7 km, gaining 90 m of elevation. What made this section challenging and fun was navigating the rock field that has developed below the Whaleback as rocks have tumbled down off the high cliffs. I nicknamed this section Mordor. The rocks are very dark and even in the early morning sunshine were already radiating a lot of heat. I would not want to walk through this stretch in the afternoon.
While this section of trail may not get the treatment of the other trails in Yoho NP. There was some serious trail building that took place to make the trail across the boulder field. Climbing up over rocks was aided by steps that Parks Canada had built into the trail. The lack of contrast between the trail and the surrounding rocks did make it difficult for Volcano to lead the way. Volcano got off trail a couple of times and a few times looked back at me looking for direction.
It had taken just 30 minutes to traverse the 1.5 km of Mordor. I was very happy to get back into the trees. We went downhill and came to the junction of the closed lower trail a short uphill brought us to the high point of the day where we joined with the trail that runs along Little Yoho River. The walk from the end of Mordor to the Little Yoho Trail was only about 3 minutes. Turning left (east) onto the Little Yoho Trail would take us back to Laughing Falls losing a 250 m elevation in 1.7 km.
The trail condition improved dramatically. We descended through several switchbacks to ease the gradient. It took just over 20 minutes to arrive back at the junction at Laughing Falls. It had been 2hrs 35 min since we left Laughing Falls and we had covered 7.9 km. All that was now left was the 4.5 km back to the car. It was 10 am which meant we would have lots of time to make it back home for the birthday party.
fairly uneventful, met family and kids like Volcano, met Kevin Hebb
The hike back to the car was very straightforward retracing our steps from yesterday. What can make hiking so enjoyable are those unscripted moments especially when meeting people on the trail. Shortly after passing through Laughing Falls CG we met the group who had been skipping rocks across the river during dinner. They were two families with 4 kids under 8 and all had little backpacks. Hiking with Volcano always makes me a popular distraction for kids we meet on the trail. So we stopped and chatted while the kids all took turns patting Volcano. This was the last of 4 days on the trail for them. They had hiked to Laughing Falls CG, then to Little Yoho CG before returning to Laughing Falls for night 3. After leaving the families we quickly got back up to our brisk pace of about 5 kph. On the downhill section just before Angel Staircase Falls we ran into my retired supervising teacher from back in 2002 when I was a student teacher. More chatting ensued as we caught up on news. They were doing a day hike out to Laughing Falls. After we said our goodbyes it was a steady walk back to the car with a brief stop for water for Volcano in a side stream.
We arrived back at the car at 11:05 am 3hrs and 40 minutes since we started hiking. It was great to finish such a satisfying hike early. We had lots of time to get home for the party. Best of all Volcano looked really good despite having hiked a brisk 12 km.
So glad I finally made it out to Yoho NP and very excited I would be returning in just over a month with Siobhan to do some more exploring. Now time for that birthday party.