Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hiking the Rockwall Trail, Kootenay National Park - Day 5 - Judgement Day Or Final Recall...

On the fifth and final day of the trek we woke up to beholden this brilliant view of Helmet Falls.

The final segment from Helmet Falls to the Paint Pots at Highway 93 was pretty much straightforward. Absent were the dramatic ascents and descents of the previous days. Instead, we trekked along a relatively flat trail, through an dense rainforest, along Helmet Creek.

Bunchberry or Dwarf Dogwood (Cornus canadensis) growing close to the forest floor.

Equisetem sp.?

Oh how I miss the taste of cool clear water from a bubbling mountain stream.... Mmmm...

The trail did undulate occasionally. When it did, we were treated to good views of the creeks and valleys surrounding us.

Looking towards the Paint Pots... About 3 km from the Pots, the peace and quiet of the backcountry that I had grown accustomed to was broken by traffic noise on Highway 93. How sad...

Tourists making wishes at one of the ochre-tinted Paint Pots. So strange to be back in "civilization". Very few of them walk beyond this point...A blessing in disguise...

The greenish water resulted from mixing of water from a nearby stream with the springs feeding the Paint Pot.

Ferrous Oxide accumulating on the edge of a Paint Pot.

A particularly brilliant accumulation of ochre.

An ochre swamp.

Ochre intermingling with clumps of green algae making for a surreal landscape...

1.2 km down the trail from the Paint Pots was the end of the trek.

Rockwall FAQs.

Q: Would you hike the trail in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction?

A: It doesn't matter. However, if you want a more difficult first day, start at the Floe Lake end and walk clockwise. Conversely, you can ease into the whole matter by hiking the relatively flat terrain on the Paint Pots end (and then have a double climb to the Tumbling Creek campground the next day). Either way there are giant climbs and knee breaking descents.

Q: How do I book the cabins?

A: You can't. Period. You as normal folk will have to book spots in the campgrounds along the way.

Q: If you were to re-do the hike what would you do differently?

A: I'd definitely go back in the Fall. The Tamarack Larches in this area must look spectacular during autumn when their needles turn colour. Also, if you are trek during high flower season (August), I'd take a macro lens to take pix of those purdy blossums.

Q: Logistically, would it be difficult to hike the Rockwall trail solo?

A: Yes. I only see a slight problem with transport from the trail finish to the trail head. Using two cars is most convenient. However, you can always grab a hitch. Better chance of this happening at the Paint Pots parking lot (more traffic). Or, you can get friendly with your fellow hikers and arrange a ride.

Better yet, stash a bike in the woods and ride back to car at the other end when you are finished.

Q: Was hiking the Rockwall worth the effort?

A: Without a doubt this hike must be one of the premiere multi-day hikes in the Canadian Rockies. The hills are steep but the pay off in terms of scenery (eg. flower-filled meadows, soaring peak) will be inexhaustible. The campgrounds were packed but hiker traffic was sparse out on the trail.

I definitely recommend this classic hike in the Canadian Rockies.

Q: Did you see any bears?

A: Nope. Wish I did though. We were definitely walking through bear territory. Every avalanche slope along the way, and there were many of them, I was looking for them bears. The closest I got to seeing a bear was kaka (poop) on the trail.

Q: Can old folks handle the Rockwall?

A: Yes, I survived the Rockwall. Tip of the day: use walking sticks.

1 comment:

LJ said...

That place looks amazing!