Thursday, April 11, 2013

Back Country Stagette: Rockwall Traverse & Iceline Trail

Although my stagette was 4yrs ago, it was such a memorable experience for me that I felt it was worth sharing, even if it goes back in time.

For two whole months before my stagette, my girlfriends whispered behind my back as they made secret plans.  All I knew was how many days I needed off work and that my fiance would pack my bag for me. He is someone who spent 21 days on a mountain in Argentina without showering, wearing the same clothing, eating the same packaged foods and still talks about how awesome that trip was.  I didn’t even want to think of what he would pack for me as I was too distracted with the thought of something worse, to worry about that. 
I pictured myself dressed up in a bright circa 1970 dress that looked more like cheap curtains with big plastic boobs tied on me and thought I was going to get dragged around some strange town from bar to bar, drunk as a skunk!  It’s nothing that you all haven’t either experienced or seen before, right? Well, I should have known better. These fit and athletic friends of mine planned the most epic back country trip a bride-to-be could ever ask for.  And other than making me carry a bright pink feather boa up and over 3 alpine passes, it wasn’t anything at all like your typical stagette. 

So the backpack gave away the “what” we were doing but I still didn’t know “where” we were going.  Not even after driving 2.5hrs from home and stopping in the little ski town of Revelstoke, British Columbia.  It wasn’t until we landed at the trail head of the Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park (a point to point 50 km trail with2300m/7500ft of elevation gain), 4hrs later, that I realized the stagette had begun.

While arranging logistics, one of my more experienced back country friends decided to check some of the packs of the newcomers.    She started with Jody’s pack, as it was ginormous and weighed as much as a wheelbarrow!  When opened it up she found the strangest things: a mini broom, dust pan, fan, slippers…. It was like one of those cars where the clowns just keep coming out… one after the other.  Poor Jody was in shock.  This was not anything close to resembling the comfort of her RV back home. I don’t think it hit her until that very moment that she couldn’t take all the things she packed.  I won’t even bother telling you about how I had to run the switchbacks leading into Floe Lake, to only dump my pack and run back down (in my hiking boots) to retrieve hers and carry it back up for her. 

We spent a total of 3 epic nights and 4 days in this mountainous wonderland which showcased huge limestone walls, hanging glaciers, creek crossings and steep, steep terrain over 3 high-alpine passes that left your legs begging for a dip in one of the glacier fed creeks nearby.  The Rockwall itself is an impressive cliff-face formation that lends long lasting views as you traverse through the surrounding alpine.  I really don’t feel I can do this trail justice and it is one of those trips you need to experience n order to see it yourself.  My fiancĂ© did a great job on packing for me and actually added two of the most important things: coffee and wine (It’s the little things that make us fall deeper in love.)  Since that trip, I have dreamed of returning to run the whole trail in a day. Either way, by hike or run, it is a trail that is not to be missed out on.  Just be sure to pack for all weather conditions and remoteness, minus the dust pan. 
The next morning we awoke in the Lake Louise hostel and made our way to Yoho National Park to run the Iceline Trail (a 25km loop with 914m/3,000ft of elevations gain.) According to Parks Canada, “Yoho” is a Cree expression for awe and wonder.  Keeping my eyes on the trail in-front of me was one of the biggest challenges as the scenery was so beautiful and distracting.  If you like glacier formations, you will encounter your share and in some areas if you hike up a little further off the trail you can touch them.  Enjoy the variety of terrain from lateral moraines from the Emerald Glacier, to alpine roots and sweet single track.  Don’t let the flat start fool you as there is plenty of elevation gain from start to finish. The route can be ran in either direction, although I recommend starting at Takkakaw Falls and finishing with the fun and steep (but run-able) descent back past the Whisky Jack hostel.  I have since returned to the Iceline because I love it so much. (photo below is from an overnight trip we took our son on in 2010)

We finished our morning in Yoho and my girlfriends still managed to dress me up and take me out on the town in Banff, Alberta after all.  Thankfully I was able to wear Arc’teryx and Icebreaker instead of a cheesy dress and blow up boobs.  We took a quick dip in the Banff hot springs, picked up some of British Columbia’s finest wine and homemade fudge and headed back to the hostel where we sat at picnic table under the stars, in our down jackets, drinking wine from our water bottles, while getting more mileage out of Jody’s broom and dust pan jokes until the wee hours of the morning.


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