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.
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]
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: - totten_photos CC=nc-nd-flickr; -dbuc CC=nc-nd-flickr commons, - duanephoto99 CC=nd-flickr; - nordique CC=flickr; -Scott Rollins w permission >see link in sidebar.