Mt. Robson Backpack

12:17 p.m. on September 4, 2012 (EDT)
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Mt Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, so getting to the lake at its base means doing a bit of work.

The distance from the trailhead to the Berg lake campground is 21 km (or just 13 mi) but the difficulty ranges from an easy walk at the beginning, through an excruciating grind up slippery rocks for 3 km with 500 m elevation gain! Total elevation gain is 800 metres, concentrated into one 150 metre slog and that second 500 metre grind and only a few gentler slopes.

We stayed at Maligne Canyon Hostel on Friday night, and got up at 6:00AM so we could be sure to be at the trailhead check-in at 8:00 when they open. Of course we forgot about the one-hour time difference between Alberta and BC, so we arrived an hour early and had to hang around in the parking lot. You HAVE to check in or they'll kick you off the trail.

image.jpg(photos taken while waiting)
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The first part of the trail is an easy walk beside the Robson River, good for little kids and old ladies. Overcast skies and occasional showers gave us a cool (and slightly damp) start to our trek.
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image.jpg A wide, easy trail (150 m over 5 km) takes you to the outflow of Kinney Lake
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then you get a few little hills to climb and some tantalizing glimpses of the lake.
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The trail is mostly through the old-growth cedar forest
image.jpg image.jpgbut after just a couple of kilometres you reach the Kinney Lake shelter. Great views of the lake and a nice place to stop for a snack. image.jpg
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Then more hills, and more forest.
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You can take a bike just past the Kinney Lake campground, then the trail becomes too difficult.
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After a couple more kilometres, the trail crosses the alluvial flats at the head of the lake,
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and starts a steady climb (150 m) up towards Whitehorn campground. Nice views of the flats below...
image.jpg but the first real work of the hike. At the top, it's a short descent down to the next river crossing
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image.jpg and a break at Whitehorn shelter.

A brief walk through the woods, and we got our first glimpse of the steady climb up the Valley of the Thousand Falls. image.jpg

Known as Emperor Hill, this is the crux of the hike, a steady 500 metre grind straight up, in only 3 km. The footing was slippery because of the drizzle.

image.jpg Nice views below, and occasional stops at scenic lookouts to break up the slog.
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image.jpg White Falls

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image.jpg Emperor Fallsimage.jpg
Add another 50 metres of gain to get from there to the top of the hill at Emperor campground and you're pretty much at the top. First glimpses of the glaciers...
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then a steady slog across an alluvial plain...


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The views were pretty much closed in and it was cold, drab and rainy. We were getting tired and there was still a ways to go. I stopped to take a photo of the beginning of the lake, and the clouds above, when the brim of my hat lifted enough to unexpectedly reveal something a bit different.
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Blocked by the clouds earlier, I got my first real look at the mountains overlooking the lake and the glaciers that feed it. I'm not usually startled, but that one glimpse was a real surprise!
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More views and we knew we were getting close.
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image.jpg By Marmot campground
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The cloud was beginning to lift and our hike turned into an easy walk along the shores of Berg Lake.
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We set up our tent and made supper with these views in every direction.

image.jpg Mt. Robson above us,

image.jpg and a rainbow looking up the valley. 

Clearing skies greeted us the next morning and we got up earl to plan our day.
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image.jpg View from our campsite.
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A worthy destination for any backpacker, with well-maintained trails, great scenery, and the feeling of accomplishment at the end of a hard day.

Next posting: Day hikes at Berg lake. 





9:26 a.m. on September 6, 2012 (EDT)
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Beautiful stuff as always Peter. Maybe someday I’ll get out that way…your reports are quite enticing.

4:09 p.m. on September 6, 2012 (EDT)
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171 forum posts

I went there a few yrs ago. I never get tired of seeing Mt Robson pics. Glad you had a great trip.

September 15, 2014
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