Thursday, 16 October 2008

Hiking Trails - Ball Pass Trail - Day 7 of 11

This post belongs to the first series of hikes, which is a 11-day backpacking trip from Kananaskis, along the Continental Divide to Yoho National Park. Today’s post covers the seventh day.

48.0 miles (76.8) — Ball Pass Jct. Campground. Elevation: 6,300 feet (1,890 metres)

[1-Mt. Ball Pass Junction Campground]

Ball Pass Junction to Floe Lake – difficult – 19km – approx. 9 hours
Elevation gain: 400 ft. (120 metres)

Before leaving Ball Pass Junction it is a good idea to fill up water bottles, as there is no water until reaching the Vermilion River. There is a long ascent to Ball Pass.

Banff National Park is finally left for Kootenay National Park at Ball Pass which lies 1.5 miles (2.4 km) and 1,000 feet (300m) above the campground. The view from the pass is dominated by Mount Ball, a distinctive, bulky peak capped with a curving white glacier.

[2-Mt. Ball Glacier]

[3-Rocky Mountain Sheep]


Long descent to Hawk Creek and Highway 93 is 9km. For some hikers, those with not so perfect knees will find it to be a pounding descent, while others will find it easier. The trail goes through the blackened pine trunks of the 2003 forest fires.

[5-Hawk Creek burnout]

The contrast between the black forest remnants, green regrowth and towering grey cliffs is stunning. When going through this burn area be extremely cautious during a strong wind as the dead trees can fall over.

[6-Vermilion River]

55.7 miles (89.1km) — Banff-Radium Highway. Elevation: 4,345 ft. (1,303.5 metres)

A good place to stop for lunch is at the Hwy 93 parking area (22.5 km south of the Banff-Kootenay boundary) on the banks of the glacial blue Vermilion River. There are bear proof bins for rubbish, a pit toilet and a campground.

There is a steep 11km climb to Floe Lake, over avalanche paths, over a bridge with the track climbing gradually up some long switchbacks which rise above Floe Creek, and then the last 4 to 5km where it steeply switchbacks to the lake.

[7-switchbacks to Floe Lake]

[8-Toward Rockwell]

The climb commenced through dense forest to Floe Lake.

[9-Numa Pass trail to Floe Lake]

Floe Lake is at the south end of the Rockwall, which is a 20-mile long, 3000-foot high wall of solid rock. The Rockwall Trail skirts along the bottom of it.

62.2 miles (99.5) — Floe Lake. Elevation: 6,700 feet (2,010 metres)

Floe Lake is an unbelievably beautiful timberline lake stretched out between the forest and the 3,000-foot (900m) sheer cliffs of the massive Rockwall. Beneath the cliffs lie small glaciers that in summer calve off small ice floes, hence the lake's name. A campground lies on the forested shore, a large site with many facilities, including gravel tent pads as the lake is a popular destination.

[10-Floe Lake beneath the Rockwall]

Photo Credits: [1][2][3]- totten_photos CC=nc-nd-flickr; [4]-dbuc CC=nc-nd-flickr commons, [5]- duanephoto99 CC=nd-flickr; [6][8]- nordique CC=flickr; [7][9][10]-Scott Rollins w permission >see link in sidebar.


Unknown said...

Very well written with an amazing series of images to go with

Steve Malley said...

One of these days I'm going to reward myself with one of these hikes. So beautiful...

Anonymous said...

I see now why this is labelled a difficult hike, but it would be well worth the effort.I am one who's knees would have to be considered...and back. Oh dear, best to see it via your stunning photos and commentary!Such an interesing window to the world.

A said...

Wonderful photo (10).
It looks like the Ocean waves... And the reflection... A shark!

Arija said...

What a wonderful hike. Surely you did not do all that in one day.
It sounds nd looka to be quite demanding. Nice choice of photos too.

Sekhar said...

Wild flowers are beautiful :)

Charles Gramlich said...

One of the great joys of hiking is seeing the small things, like the flowers along the side of the trail, and the colors in the foilage. I used to miss those things but now, walking with Lana, one of us usually catches them.

Sidney said...

My wife and I keep saying we want to get into hiking. Those pics make it look really fun and worthwhile.

L.A. Mitchell said...

These are beautiful, Barbara. Love the Floe Lake one:)

laughingwolf said...

i love that part of the country, thx barbara...

BernardL said...

I really like the expression on the big horn. :)

Webradio said...

Hello Barbara !

What a wonderful hike. Nice choice of photos too.

This part of country is beautiful...

Rick said...

Barbara, I'm going to have to make that trip. You do see the magic in everything, don't you?

Tess Kincaid said...

Stunning photos! It's hard to believe there are actually places this beautiful in the world.

Barbara Martin said...

Thomas and Shiply, thank you for your kind comment.

Steve, there is a longer hike from Waterton National Park adjacent to Glacier National Park in the US, that goes north along this route into Jasper National Park. This hike takes four months and requires considerable endurance.

Pam, there are trails where the hiker walks along a niche, passing for a trail, between meadows. There is no railing; this being a hike I would absent myself from.

Maria, yes, I like that photo as well: the reflection is perfect.

Sekhar, their growing season is so short in their alpine habitat.

Charles, the underbrush between the trees sometimes hold interesting birds and smaller animals.

Sidney, welcome. I would suggest going on a shorter hike to begin with, and work up your endurance.

L.A., more photos to give you creative inspiration.

Tony, nice to see you back.

Bernard, I think he has something to say about all the hikers.

Webradio, glad you like it. Alberta and British Columbia are known for sunshine and wide open spaces.

Rick, most days, yes.

Willow, there are equally beautiful places in the US including Michigan and Ohio.

J. L. Krueger said...

Love these visits to the wild places! I sure like the paucity of people too! ;)

Leigh Russell said...

These pictures are too beautiful to be real! The mountain goat made me smile, among all the breathtaking scenery. He looks very inquisitive.

Check out my blog. Exciting developments (at last!)

Barbara Martin said...

J.L., wide open spaces have always called to me.

Leigh, everything looks better when the sun is out.

Your developments can only mean publication, I suspect.