An Unexpected Side Trip

We planned to head to Banff after the Bugaboos, but the weather forecast suggested a few rare days of sun in Jasper, so we decided to start in Jasper and then work our way south through Banff. After a few hours drive, we stopped at the very popular Icefields Parkway Visitors Center and experienced our first real summer crowds. We were looking for some recommendations on local hikes. However, when we mentioned to the Ranger that we really wanted to do the Berg Lake hike in Mt Robson (due to a recommendation from a fellow hiker in the North Cascades) but couldn’t find any camping permits, our plans again changed significantly. This Ranger somehow knew that it was possible to camp just past Berg Lake, where you can cross the park boundary into Jasper. There is a little known campground just past the border called Adolphus, that wasn’t mentioned anywhere on the internet I could find. So we secured our permits for Adolphus Lake for the following two nights and kept driving northwest.

The Berg Lake trail did not disappoint. Highlights of the three-day trip include:

  • Riding our bikes the first 7 kilometers of the trail (bikes aren’t allowed past this point). While riding with our backpacking packs proved a little challenging, it definitely saved our feet and knees to have a shorter hike (our camping spot was about 26 kilometers in). We also got a lot of amused looks from other hikers.
  • Porcupines. Luckily we knew from our Bugaboos experience that porcupines like rubber so were a little prepared for all the porcupines we saw around Berg Lake and our campsite. We knew not to leave anything outside our tent, so we tied up our food in a tree and took everything else inside our tent. We did not realize that a porcupine would have the audacity to enter our raincover and perch itself between the raincover and our tent. Luckily we already planned to wake up at 1 a.m. the second day of our trip to do a sunrise hike because when I woke up at 12:45 a.m. to the sound of scurrying and we discovered the porcupine we definitely weren’t going back to sleep. While I frantically tried to exit the tent via the non-porcupine side David managed to encourage the porcupine to leave without sustaining any injuries.
  • Sunrise hike to Snowbird Pass. We decided to wake up early to make the hike up to Snowbird Pass, which provides view of Mt. Robson and the Reef Icefield. The amazing Ranger at Icefields Parkway had recommended this hike and told us while she hadn’t done it she heard it was amazing. We didn’t really know what to expect from the hike so we were extra surprised when we climbed the last stretch to the Pass and found ourselves looking out on the huge expanse of the Reef Icefield. We took our time coming down from the Pass given it was only about 9 a.m. and we had the area to ourselves for several hours until we saw the first set of hikers making their way up the trail. I think this will likely stay one of the most memorable hikes of the trip.
  • Berg Lake. Of course Berg Lake itself is gorgeous and was a high point of the trip. I especially liked putting my feet in after a long day of hiking. I was only a little envious of those camping right alongside the lake (who had planned the trip more than a day in advance). At least we knew they had porcupines at the Berg Lake campground as well, although they seemed to have significantly less mosquitoes.

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