Mt. Robson: highest point of the Canadian Rockies and new love of my life

This post originally appeared on Calgary is Awesome.

I am so excited to tell you about a very special adventure to Mt. Robson Provincial Park. It included one of the best views I have ever seen in my whole life which was this:

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So let me tell you how to get there. We stayed in Jasper on Friday night where we staged all our food and gear for the four day backpacking trip. Mt. Robson is about an hour drive west of Jasper on the Highway 16.

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Four day backpacking trip sound like a big undertaking? If you have desire, some stamina, and a healthy dose of common sense, you can do this! I promise. If you don’t have gear, you can rent it for affordable prices at the University of Calgary. Chances are, a friend has stuff you can borrow. Here’s a solid packing checklist from our good friends at MEC, a sample week menu plan and grocery list and a tutorial about how to pack your backpack.  Trust me, this trip is worth every ounce you carry.

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There are seven campgrounds along the Berg Lake Lake trail which you can reserve online. We hiked our way into Berg Lake campground on day 1, about 21 k. You pass through lush forests, a valley of waterfalls, and up a very long steep hill and along roaring rivers. It’s beautiful and challenging and we were ready to collapse by the end. (Whitehorn campground is about half way at 11 k if you want to split it up.) We cooked fondue (the little pre-made kind you can get at Safeway) in the cozy cooking shelter and melted right into our sleeping bags. Then, we woke up to this:

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On day 2, we picked up our weary legs and went up to Snowbird Pass. This is another 21 k (round trip) hike, but our packs were lighter and we were promised glaciers, meadows and ice fields. Indeed the views of Robson glacier on the way up were something.

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Beyond the glacier, you come over a ridge and it opens up to a sparkling green meadow. (See also: the first picture.)

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And finally you arrive at the pass with sweeping views of the Reef icefield and Coleman glacier.

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As we sloughed off our pack to take in the view and eat a snack, this man from BC unfolded a carbon fibre Swiss Elkhorn.

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The backcountry is full of moments like this. Unexpected encounters, serendipity, beauty (we saw a family of mountain goats just after this.) Even a tough, exhausted hike down is….worth it. I can say with a longing sigh that Snowbird Pass was one of the most unforgettable hikes of my life.

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On our third day, we took a quick jaunt up to Toboggan Falls.

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We didn’t make it to Hargreaves Lake or Mumm Basin, the other main day hikes out of Berg Lake. But we needed a reason to come back, yes? We spent our last night at Emperor Falls campground to shorten our hike on the way out. We took the fly off the tent, watched the sun set on Robson and tried to stay up to watch the stars come out. But the days are still deliciously long and at 11:30 there were only a few glitters in the sky.

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We met people of all ages and from all over the world along the way. Many return year after year. We were all tired and sore and energized and totally blissed out. There really is something about Mt. Robson. You have plan, you have pack and you have to carry to get there. But can you believe it’s right here for us–just a drive away? Adventure, right at our fingertips.

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