August 18th, Floe Lake Campground to Tumbling Creek CG, 17 km, 1042 m elevation gain, 1211 m elevation loss, 7 hrs 20 min (all distances and elevation are as per the guide book), Section C Segment 19.
It rained heavily overnight but the day dawned bright and clear which found me down at the lake taking photos by 7:20 am. Not terribly early but yesterday had been a long day. It was still early enough that the wind had not picked up yet so the lake was mirror smooth. I was really wishing I had a wide angle lens to capture the full view of the landscape but I had to do with my 24-105 telephoto.
I was taking photos until 8:00 am. Micah took advantage of that and did not get up until I came back to the tent. I boiled the water and we had a lovely slow breakfast by the lake. I was quite impressed by many of the campers. The ones in our little area, about 5 tents, were headed to the Floe Lake parking lot and they were all gone shortly after 8:00 am for a 10 km hike. We started tearing down the tent at 9:00 am and had everything packed away by 9:35 am. We took one last trip down to the beach before we started our day. This would be a nice day. First off it was shorter than yesterday. We were heading to Tumbling Creek CG, only an 18 km hike. We would head up 300 m to Numa Pass followed by an 800 m elevation loss that would take us to Numa Creek CG, a total distance of 10 km. Then it would be back up 700 m to Tumbling Pass over 4.5 km before dropping back down to the campground.
The hike out of the campground was very pleasant on a comfortably graded trail. One other group left just after us but we never saw them again. The flowers were out, adding a nice splash of colour to our hike.
Looking back we had stunning views of Floe Peak and Floe Lake. As we approached the pass we lost view of the lake as the trail actually flattens out before reaching the pass. There were still some small snow fields clinging to little depressions but the trail was mostly dry underfoot. We arrived at Numa Pass 55 minutes after leaving Floe Lake.
We stopped for a few minutes after cresting the pass not sure why but it probably had something to do with our feet. We met our first southbound hikers shortly after leaving the pass. It is an 800 m climb for the southbound hikers to the pass up a steep trail. Micah and I were both glad that we were headed downhill. I did not keep count but by the time we reached the bottom of the pass we must have seen over 20 southbound hikers grinding up the hill. Despite the hard work they were all in very high spirits. Many of the hikers were only headed to Floe Lake giving them the majority of the day to relax and enjoy the area.
Micah’s Note: Actual conversation we had going down the pass:
Uphill Hiker: Tell me we’re near the top
Dad: You Are Near The Top
Uphill Hiker: I love the sound of your sweet, sweet lies
We came out of the trees at the base of a lovely waterfall. We had lost most of the elevation on the way Numa Creek CG but there was still 3.5 km to go before we would stop for lunch. From the base of the falls most of the walk was along a densely wooded trail. When I had come through here in 2011 there had been a lot of avalanche debris that we had to walk around slowing down our progress. Sometime in the intervening years Parks Canada had done a nice job of cutting a trail through the debris. We did cross over Numa Creek several times. While small the creek had cut quite a nice little canyon for us to walk along. We arrived at Numa Creek CG at 12:55pm. We could afford a long lunch as we only had 7.5 km left for the day.
Micah’s Note: I think we spent a good amount of this section of the hike talking about..mortgages? Not sure how that came up but my journal does not lie.
We tossed our packs down by a log beside Numa Creek and had a very relaxing lunch. Micah discovered that the biffy on the south side of the creek was brand new. The biffy still had that new fresh wood smell. Sometimes it is the little things that bring a smile to your face.
Numa Creek divides the campground into two sections. On the north side of the creek is the eating area and food storage while the tent pads are all located on the south side of the river. We packed up and headed out at 1:45 pm. We had 7.5 km to go to Tumbling Creek CG including 720 m of elevation gain. I was hopeful we could complete the hike in about 2.5 hrs. As we passed through the north side of the campground there were a couple of older gentlemen having lunch. When I hiked through Numa Creek CG in 2011 with Laura we exited back to the highway by following Numa Creek and crossing over the Vermilion River. Unfortunately the bridge over the river was destroyed by the floods of 2017 and despite reconstruction efforts the bridge was still not open. Projected opening is summer 2021.
The trail headed uphill immediately upon leaving the campground. The plant life was so thick on the side of the trial in places I lost sight of Micah ahead of me. We met one large group coming down the trail. They were only headed to Numa Creek CG so their day was almost done. Later Micah would remark that they really liked this climb as it was just a steady up making it easy to get into a rhythm.
Micah’s Note: You can tell it was getting hot by the fact that I actually cut down to shorts–I never do that.
While Micah may have liked the gradient it was still a hot climb. There was little chatter between us as we worked up way up towards the pass. As the trail broke into loosely vegetated slopes it became very rocky. Hiking poles were a big help on the loose footing.
The trail flattened out briefly and headed into a small stand of trees which gave us some relief from the sun. The trail then went sharply uphill before dropping down into a large forest. With the change to the forest setting the trail underfoot become smooth and soft a welcome relief from the rocks. I was fooled for a moment when we exited the second forest I thought we were at Tumbling Pass but it was just a meadow leading to one last short climb to the pass.
Micah’s Note: When we reached this “false pass” I climbed onto a big rock and shouted to hear the echo. Bit of a premature move, since we still had our high point ahead of us, but it was the better spot for a shout anyway.
It took 30 minutes from when we left the forest until we arrived at the pass. By the time I joined Micah at the top of the pass they were already sitting down with her pack off. Guess we were going to spend a few minutes at the pass. It was worth it. To our left was Tumbling Peak complete with Tumbling Glacier. To our right was Mt Gray. The Rockwall itself rose over 900 m above us. A truly impressive sight.
We hung around on the pass for 15 minutes before heading on. We had just 3.5 km to go and all downhill to the campground. The trail starts out quite flat as it leaves the pass then as it begins to descend it quickly gets steeper. Much of the elevation is lost through a series of switchbacks; we lost the majority of the 320 m of elevation in just 1.5 km. We are at this time on the south side of Tumbling Creek with the campground on the north side. The last 1.5 km is walking alongside Tumbling Creek to access a bridge to take us over to the north side and our home for the evening. We dropped our packs at 4:55 pm. It was a little later than I had hoped. It had taken us just over 3 hours since leaving Numa Creek and 45 minutes since leaving Numa Pass to arrive at the the campground. I am still not sure why but this was one of the best days I had on the hike. I just really enjoyed the section of trail and I felt great. This feeling of joy and optimism is what would make what happened tomorrow more difficult to deal with.
Micah’s Note: While I’m sure the reason for the stop was partially “I want a snack,” we also waited for a SPOT message here. There had been a sign at Floe trailhead that the McArthur trail was closed due to deadfall, so we’d asked people at home to check that for us in case we’d have to hike out the next day instead of continuing our actual route. It was open now, thankfully.
Our campsite was close by to a little creek. I took the opportunity to wash up in the creek since I had not had a wash since Howard-Douglas. We set up camp and I got dinner going just after 6 pm.
Tumbling Creek is only a short walk from the campground so after dinner Micah took some alone time to sit by the creek and write in her journal. I wandered around the campsite. I had been here just 6 weeks prior on a three day trip on the northern section of the Rockwall. On the previous trip there was still snow in the trees and all the minor creeks were flowing. It was interesting to see the difference a short time can make.
Later we would take a wander around the campground together. The campground is designed in two distinct halves sort of an uptown and a downtown. Both halves have their own arrangement of tent pads, eating area, food storage and biffy. We were staying downtown which had only one drawback. Someone had a made a mess of the downtown biffy. This really was not a big deal as the uptown biffy was not that far away. Later in the evening when we were back at our tent we noticed a steady stream of people heading up the path to the little creek above our tent. Micah came to the conclusion that they were not going to wash up but were using the forest as a biffy.
Micah’s Note: I could smell it. They weren’t all digging cat holes. Thankfully once we settled down in the tent the smell didn’t reach me.
In spite of Covid and everyone keeping their distance we did chat with a number of groups. We headed to bed about 8:00 pm. We read for a while making up for the previous evening.
Micah’s Note: We could also hear the periodic crashing and thunder of ice melting and breaking off the glacier–a very cool sound to sleep to.
Good night from Tumbling Creek CG.