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 planned this as a solo hike with Volcano. As the winter progressed it became obvious that the distances were going to be too far for Volcano. 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. As luck would have it Ken and his brother had the weekend free and were able to get last minute spots for the campgrounds.
Hiking the Rockwall Trail through Kootenay NP is considered backcoutnry hiking extraordinaire. The Rockwall rises almost a 1000 m above the landscape and extends for over 30 km with only one break in the wall. Hiking the entire Rockwall will take you over four alpine passes. 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 once. So I was eager to explore more of the Rockwall so had booked this as a relatively easy three day trip good for the beginning of the backpacking season.
The trip was in July but I was teaching summer school so was not able to leave 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 not much good in the snow. I found a good pair of adjustable poles in the garage and grabbed my traction aides and headed off. While there was some snow on day 2 it was very firm and did not really need the poles or boots. It was though easy to see while on the trail how just a week or two before 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 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 not a big deal as it was only three days and I was preparing for a much longer trip in the summer on the Great Divide Trail that would bring me back to Rockwall Trail but hiking the other way.
I had purchased new equipment for the Great Divide Trail hike in an attempt to cut down on weight. This was a great opportunity to see if my gear was going to work for the longer hike coming up. 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) and 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.