Saturday, 30 August 2008

Snowbird Pass Trail (Berg Lake Trail), British Columbia

[1-Mt. Robson south face]

On August 2, 2008 I posted a visual hike of the Berg Lake Trail to Berg Lake and the northern face of Mt. Robson. This is a continuation of that post with the trail continuing to Snowbird Pass.

[2- Berg Lake, Berg Glacier and northern face of Mt. Robson]

Snowbird Pass is closed May and June due to caribou calving. A challenging route marked by rock cairns (caution required), which provides spectacular views of the back of Mount Robson. From Berg Lake campsite the trip is 22 km, return. Start north of Rearguard campsite, follow Robson River then travel up to Robson Glacier's moraine. Hike up to an alpine meadow, beyond which is Snowbird Pass.

From Berg Lake campground, follow the main trail northeast. In 100 m, immediately after the Toboggan Creek bridge, the trail to Toboggan Falls forks left and ascends generally northwest. Proceed on the main trail.

[3- Snowbird Pass Trail with Rearguard Mountain on the right]

Pass Rearguard campground at 1 km.

[4- view looking back to Berg Lake past Rearguard campsite]

Beyond Rearguard, the trail leads generally east-northeast onto a gravel flat. Reach a junction at 1.4 km. The trail leading straight passes a ranger station in 100 m then continues generally northeast to Robson Pass campground.

[5- Sign where toe of Robson Glacier was in 1911]

[6- view of Mt. Robson Glacier before long ascent]

For Snowbird Pass, go right and hike along the meltwater stream toward the toe of Robson Glacier.

[7- higher up, glacial pond, looking behind]

At 2.2 km, bear right (southeast) where a cutoff trail to Robson Pass forks left. Ahead, the marginal lake at the glacier’s toe is where the Robson River begins.

[8- toe of Robson Glacier]

[9- Looking back from last photo along trail]

The trail ascends the lateral moraine of Robson Glacier, enabling you to overlook the ice for the next 3 km. Be cautious: the rocks cave in where the ice has melted.

[10- More of Robson Glacier revealed]

[11- Along Robson Glacier]

At 7.4 km, the trail turns away from the glacier and begins a switchbacking climb past a cascade.

[12- Above Robson Glacier]

[13- waterfall on Snowbird Pass Trail]

A steep, eastward ascent follows the left side of a stream. The grade eases in an alpine meadow. Aim for the low point on the ridge ahead. The superior route bends left and stays north of the stream.

[14- alpine meadow]


[16- Crossing the meadow]

[17- Ptarmigan (snowbird) beside Snowbird Pass Trail]

These birds are 14 inches. In winter both adults have white plumage with a black tail and bill and a black eye line. The feet are feathered. In summer the male has dark brown plumage with white wings and a white belly. The female in summer has mottled brown plumage and white wings.

The ptarmigan feeds on seeds, fruits, buds, and insects in the summer but in winter is confined to buds and twigs. Its stomach is adapted to this diet having special bacteria enabling it to digest woody material Another adaptation is the feathered feet which act as snowshoes, allowing the bird to walk on soft snow. The feathers are hollow and filled with air which provide the bird with some insulation. The female will lay 6 - 9, sometimes as many as 16 buff-coloured eggs. The male defends the territory while the female incubates the eggs for around 21 days. The chicks are very quick to leave th enest and fly within ten days.

[18- Snowbird Pass Trail with late blooming wildflowers]

[19- Mt. Robson from Snowbird Pass Trail]

[20- View behind while ascending first of several minor ridges]

Follow cairns up a steep boulder field to crest Snowbird Pass at 10.6 km.

[21- Cairn at the end of meadow]

[22- Trail near top of Snowbird Pass with snow]

[23- Coleman Glacier at the top of Snowbird Pass with large cairn at Jasper National Park, Alberta]

It is not wise to attempt glacier travel unless experienced and with a guide.

[24- Heading back to Mt. Robson]

For more information about hiking and Canada's Parks go to the sidebar under "Conservation and Nature".

Research: BC Parks, A Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Michael Vanner (2006) Paragon Publishing p. 88

Photo Credits: [1][2]-Wikipedia, [3][13][15][17][18][19]-brilang-CC=nc-sa-flickr, [4][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][14][16][20][21][22][23][24]-HandsLive CC=flickr, [5]-merehike.


Eleanor said...

Dear Barbara,
It's Saturday evening in this nick of the woods. I am sitting in bed and enjoying a hike through this incredible and stunningly beautiful scenery. I am touched by the way the snowbirds feet are specially created to walk in sof snow! Thank you for this wonderful posting. Do visit Africa again too! Love Eleanor

beelovers said...

fantastic photographs

Travis Erwin said...

Simply breathtaking.

Charles Gramlich said...

I feel like I've been on the hike myself. Amazing.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Wow! What wonderful photos.

laughingwolf said...

superb, barbara, thank you...

when i first went to bc, for uni, it took what seemed forever not to be totally humbled by the rockies

they so reduced me to insignificance by comparison....

gary rith said...

Hope you are feeling a little better.
Your tour here? Makes me want to find the boots and parka and step out!

Barbara Martin said...

Eleanor, glad to hear you liked your hike. Much easier to look at photos than walk the 9 km one way. In the future I will be posting about other hikes in the Rockies, and on the eastern coast.

B.Kalamiotis, welcome, browse and enjoy your visits.

Travis, the air would be cleaner and crisp, and less oxygen as the elevation reaches 2,480 feet higher than at Berg Lake.

Wait, Travis, I have better photos than these posted today which will soon be forthcoming.

Barbara Martin said...

Charles, the key is to fit in as many photos as will describe the area one hikes in.

Welshcakes, welcome and enjoy my part of the world. When I'm stressed from my day job I like to meander on trails in places I have enjoyed in the past. Although I would prefer being there in person, often a good photograph is enough to take me there through imagination.

Tony, your comment is all too true. When you are in deep enough to wildness, it is you and nature: one on one.

Gary, now I have a sore back from lifting too heavy accordion folders at work. However, the cow jumping over the moon plaque and the happy dog plaque were more than enough to cheer me up! Wonderful wall hangings they'll be.

For readers entering into this latter comment, please go to Gary's blog where you will see the amazing pottery he makes. In reality they are better than the photos he posts!

A said...

Very, very beautifull photos! My english is bad and i'm not time today to try translate that you write about this wonderful "travel", but soon.
My brother is autist and one of his passion and obsession is the snow and glaciers, I'm glad to show him your photos.

Thancks for your comment on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Marvelous photos Barbara!
My brother is autist and one of its passios and obsessions is the snow and the glaciers, Y'm happy to show him your photos.

Thanks for your comment on my blog!

Tom Moffatt said...

Last time I hiked up along the Robson Glacier was 1968, and it is interesting to compare the thickness of the glacier then with the much thinner ice sheet today. - Appreciate the photos - Tom Moffatt -

Tom Moffatt said...

I last hiked up along the Robson Glacier in 1968, and it is startling to see how thick the ice sheet was then compared to the time of these photos. If you want, happy to email a photo or two from then - 40 years before your walk. Tom Moffatt