Rainbows and wine on a Canadian Classic.
Paint Pots to Helmet Falls CG to Tumbling Falls CG to Paint Pots, July 10 – 12, 2020.
Originally this trip was planned this as a solo hike with Volcano. As the previous winter progressed it became obvious that the distances that were necessary to get from campground to campground were going to be too far for Volcano. I put a call out to ask for people interested in joining me on the hike. Since it was Covid times they would have to secure their own reservations for each campground. As luck would have it Ken and his brother had the weekend free and were able to secure last minute sites at the campgrounds.
Hiking the Rockwall Trail through Kootenay NP is considered back country hiking extraordinaire. The Rockwall rises almost a 1000 m above the valley floor and extends for over 30 km with only one significant break. Hiking the entire Rockwall would take you over four alpine passes and though four campgrounds. I had been to Floe Lake twice at the southern end of the Rockwall (Floe Lake Numa Creek 2011 and Floe Lake Revisited 2019) and had hiked over Numa Pass and out Numa Creek on the 2011 trip. So I was eager to explore more of the Rockwall. This trip was booked as a way to explore the Rockwall and as a relatively easy three day trip good for the beginning of the backpacking season.
The trip was in July but since I was teaching summer school I would not be able to leave Canmore until close to 2 pm. Ken and his brother Neil both had the day off so headed out about 9 am. Neil who has made many trips to the Rockwall highly encouraged boots, traction aids and poles. This created a bit of scrambling for me as normally I hike in shoes and my boots are little past it. My regular poles also do not have baskets on them so they are very useful in deep snow. I found a good pair of adjustable poles in the garage and grabbed my boots and traction aides so was all set to go. While there was some snow on day 2 it was very firm making the poles and boots unnecessary. Once on the trail it was easy to see how just a week or two prior the conditions could have been very different with a lot of deep snow so better safe than sorry.
While I would be hiking with Ken and Neil with the trip being during Covid this was a pseudo-solo trip as I was entirely self sufficient. I carried my own tent, food, stove and medical kit. This really was actually ideal as it was only three days and I was preparing for a much longer trip in the summer on the Great Divide Trail and this would allow me to trial some new equipment. The trip on the Great Divide Trail was planned for 15 days so I had purchased some new equipment in an attempt to cut down on weight. I had a smaller and lighter backpack a Gregory Paragon 58L, a 550 mL titanium mug that would serve also as my pot (I actually had a 1.1 L titanium mug for the GDT hike) a Montbell Down Vest and 100 wt fleece.
What was learned.
- Navigating across snow can be challenging but the Viewranger App was perfect on this trail, never more than a foot off of where the trail was.
- Getting up early has its perks, especially if you are a photographer
- Short days can be fun. Every day on the trail does not have to epic in terms of mileage. Need to pause and remember why you are out there.