This winter, Hedy's annual ugly Christmas sweater party was also the the annual golden girls backpacking club hike decider party. Good thing too... Berg lake books up so fast that in the third week of December, we managed to snatch up the last camp sites at the lake. The lure of this glacier lake is strong - it's one of the most popular backpacks in the Rockies and also one of the most beautiful.
The long drive from Calgary up through Jasper was heavy with smoke, and as we drove down the highway I was feeling a little apprehensive. As the tallest peak in the Rockies is often in the clouds, I was told to expect not to get a great view of Mount Robson - but I've been told that before and had clear skies anyway. The smoke was hampering that optimism. The first shot is near the Columbia ice fields - I was not kidding about the smoke.
An induction and a bad 90s instructional video later, we were dumping the contents of Astrid's minivan out at the trailhead and checking our supplies. You could round Astrid and Hedy's packs up to 50 pounds each of wine, fondue supplies and camp chairs. Astrid brings the luggage scale every trip so I know for sure my pack was 43 pounds of hummus and the camera an extra 3.6.
We late started around three thirty and pretty much immediately started paying for all those indulgences. The first portion of the hike surprised me - the forest looked so similar to the rainforest on Haida Gwaii. This is because Mount Robson is so big that it creates it's own microclimate, making this the furthest east and furthest inland rain forest in the hemisphere. The cedar, hemlock, devil's club and ferns were are familiar, and I lagged behind the girls trying to demolish as many thimble berries as I could. The way up was smokey and then rainy. We ate dinner on the Robson River, camped at Whitehorn, dragged our heavy packs up the switchbacks through the Valley of a Thousand Falls, got drenched and dried out (on repeat).
We reached the Berg Lake cabin completely soaked. The hut was steamy with campers escaping the rain and drying racks full of soggy clothing. As our luck would have it, the rain stopped at the sky (scrubbed clean of smoke) cleared just in time for the alpenglow to light Mount Robson's peak. We fell asleep to the thunder of calving glaciers and mice tittering through Hedy's pack.
The following morning we donned our day hike fanny packs for a day of geological exploration and glacier views. Astrid got her knees wet for an epic photo, we feasted on more hummus and fondue and we card sharked some crib n00bs. We hiked the full 21k, 800m elev and three biogeoclimatic zones out on Sunday and no one's feet were happy by the end of it. It was a long day but let me tell you, I was sublimely happy to put on my dry set of car sweatpants, much on chips and avocado toast (Jasper snack stop) and nap on the long drive home. Well earned rest.