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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fairmont Hot Springs - Hike on Owl's Loop and Pop Bottle Ridge

Friday, August 26, 2016 was our last day at Fairmont Hot Springs, in the beautiful Columbia River Valley of British Columbia.

While the resort and RV park is modern in all respects today, the original hot spring sections of the resort still exist.  Here is a photo of one of the original pools --

-- and, below, Kathy examines one of the original stone outdoor hot tubs:

This is an early stone bathhouse built at the natural pools:

On one of our first days here, we took a soak in the current pools, but they were not remarkable, being large swimming pools filled with warm water and crowds of tourists on vacation.  We had been far more impressed with the natural-type hot springs we found at Liard River Hot Springs, Chena Hot Springs and Takhini Hot Springs.

Because this was our last day, we wanted to try a local hike.  A number of interesting hiking trails head out directly from the campground, and we had explored a few of the shorter ones.  This day, we decided to try the Owl's Loop and Pop Bottle Ridge trails, which were advertised to take us to "spectacular" views of Columbia Lake, a lake formed by the widening of the Columbia River just south of our campground.

All hikes in the Rocky Mountains involve "up" and this hike was no exception.  Our trail started UP from the campground, even though our destination was in the opposite direction.  Here we are, looking up-trail toward Fairmont Mountain.

Most of the trail wound through a dense green forest.  We were surprised to see so many signs of approaching fall, with the yellowing of aspen and birch leaves, and the ground cover turning shades of orange and gold:

Much of this forest was moist, even though the surrounding valley is relatively dry.  The ground was covered in moss, and moss hung from trees.  We found this large mossy guy hanging out with some low bushes:

The trail was easy, soft and clear.  Our worst obstacle was a fallen tree that still lay above David's head:

At one point, the trail passed some awesome formations of very old, hard stone, covered in lichen and moss.  Kathy stopped to make friends:

This fellow, part of the old stone formation, demonstrated nearly every color in the rainbow, just on his own up-jutting surface:

About 2.5 miles out, we reached Pop Bottle Ridge, which overlooks the Columbia River, and had views spanning from the north --

-- to the northwest --

-- to the west and some beautiful tuff cliffs overlooking the highway and river --

-- to the south and Columbia Lake:

We paused for a selfie at our lunch spot on the ridge...

...and kicked back to enjoy a sandwich and the view:

Kootenay National Park - Radium Hot Springs Hike

Hi Blog!

On Wednesday, August 24, 2016, we left Emerald Lake Lodge and Yoho National Park. On the way back to Fairmont Hot Springs, we decided to stop and have lunch in Kootenay National Park. Kootenay was established in 1920 as part of an agreement to build a new road across the Rockies. We actually drove though Kootenay on our was from Jasper to Fairmont Hot Springs, but since we had the trailer in tow, we didn't get a chance to stop. This was our chance to put boots on the ground and claim Kootenay National Park. Here's Dave at the trailhead for the Juniper Trail.

Since we got a late start, we picked a short, but scenic hike. After parking at the west gate, we quickly descend into the Sinclair Canyon.

Sinclair Creek has carved a narrow path through the bedrock. The sound of the waterfall echos from the canyon walls.

After taking in the falls, we begin our hike toward Radium Hot Springs. The hot springs were named after the radioactive element when an analysis of the water showed that it contained small traces of radon which is a decay product of radium. It was believed that these trace elements could cure whatever ails you. Kathy is thinking of the ales that await her at the end of this hike.

As with all good hikes in the Rocky Mountains, the trail will eventually go up and then up some more. We got a great view of the Columbia River Valley.

The higher we climbed, the more unusual the rock formation became. We also got to see more and more of the valley below.

The higher we went, the drier it got.

We were soon surrounded by sage brush and thorny thistles.

We soon reached the high point of our hike. As we looked down, we could see the grassy knoll where the former Radium Lodge once stood. Built in 1965, the Radium Lodge replaced a lodge and bungalows originally constructed in 1925 by the Canadian Pacific Railway. In March 2011, the Lodge was closed. In 2014, the building was torn down and the property returned to a natural state.

Very natural indeed, well, except for those two red chairs. From our vantage point we could look up and down the Kootenay Valley. The Radium Hot Springs pool complex was just below us.

The parking lots were packed, but we only passed a few hearty hikers as we worked our way back to our truck.

Back at Sinclair Creek, Kathy decided to cool down with a little spring water.

Kootenay National Park has a number of cool features including a Marble Canyon and Paint Pots that we didn't get to see on this adventure. So, we are looking forward a return trip. 

Hike to Yoho Lake

Hi Blog!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016, was our only full day in Yoho National Park. We wanted to make it epic. After poring over hiking guides and asking for suggestions from Emerald Lake Lodge employees, we decided on a hike up and over Yoho Pass to Yoho Lake. The first part of the hike took us around Emerald Lake. Once to the far side of the lake, we took off straight toward Michael Peak.

Further up the valley our nice straight trail was lost in the flow of glacial moraine. Numerous plank bridges were laid and then lost each year when the winter snows melted.

We could see a waterfall in the distance and we began to follow a small stream. At a few spots, we actually had to hike in the stream!

Here Dave demonstrates the proper way to cross a swayback plank bridge.

We took one last look back at Emerald Lake before heading up to the falls.

The trail became very steep with several switchbacks, but our efforts were rewarded. To get the full effect of the falls - click the link to a You Tube Video - Falls at Yoho Pass.

Little did we know that this was only the base of the falls. As we hiked around the foot of Michael Peak, we could look back and see the beginning of the falls from Emerald Glacier at the base of Emerald Peak.

As we worked our way up into the pass between Michael Peak and Wapta Mountain, we soon found ourselves in a very wooded valley. Recent tree fall left us scrambling to find a route over the barky baracades.

As we approached Yoho Lake Campground, we discovered a room with a view of Wapta Mountain.

From the far side of Yoho Lake, Wapta Mountain was looking very reflective.

After yesterday's rain, the red chairs were very wet. Not to be deterred, we wiped them down and put on our waterproof rain gear. Good thing we did: no sooner did we finish our photo than it began to rain. It was just a passing sprinkle.

After lunch, we hiked back to Yoho Pass and down to Emerald Lake. We took more photos than we can fit into this blog. If you are interested in seeing even more photos of Emerald Lake, Yoho Lake and Yoho National Park, you can click the link to our Flickr page - Hike from Emerald Lake to Yoho Lake. Here is one last look of Emerald Lake.

The End.

Yoho National Park - Around Emerald Lake

In prior visits to the Canadian Rockies, we had been to Banff and Lake Louise.  This trip, we wanted to get to know the other Canadian national parks in the Rockies.  Having visited Jasper National Park, our next visit was to Yoho National Park.

After parking our RV in Fairmont Hot Springs, which lies 2-3 hours south of Yoho, on Monday, August 22, 2016, we drove back up to Yoho to visit Emerald Lake and stay two nights at the lodge on that lake.  The day we arrived, it was drizzling, and the rain continued all day and into the night.  We walked around a bit and took this misty selfie, which gives you an idea of that milky blue-green color of the lake:

Our cabin sat on one arm of the lake.  Below our cabin was the bridge that brings visitors to the lodge.  We walked out to the bridge and got this photo looking back up the arm of the lake:

The whole lake was looking cloudy and misty:

A little walk around the lake and we could see the lodge and cabins decked in low clouds beneath the glowering mountain:

For most of the day, we just lazed around inside by a fire and caught up on some internet items, using the lodge internet.  We finished out the evening with a cozy fire in our cabin:

The morning of Tuesday, August 23, 2016, dawned clear but with some low-hanging clouds beyond the lake:

We began our Tuesday hike (more on that in the next blog entry) by circling the lake.  Early low-hanging clouds graced the elevations we would soon be climbing:

Our Tuesday hike brought us back to the lake, and we chose to complete our circle around it, to see what we could see.  From the far side of the lake, we got these interesting reflections, showing a montage of the lakebed stones and the blue-green lake water:

With the lowering sun, the lake took on deeper hues:

The sky had enough sun to bring out colors, but enough clouds to make the light variable and mysterious:

After our hike, we had just enough time in our day to paddle a canoe around the lake.  Here, Kathy directs the canoe into what looks like a magical, enchanted kingdom...

...while, in the rear of the canoe, David kept us on a straight course through the milky glacial waters:

We retired to our cabin, satisfied that we'd had a chance to see the lake, and this area of Yoho National Park and get to know them.  This would be an area we'd love to return to, and we now know it well enough to plan adventures deeper into the mountains to find even more beautiful glacial tarns.