Debbie is worried that even with warmer sleepwear her light sleeping bag will not be warm enough, so we unpack her pack and she does a test sleep at the Robson River Campground before we embark and she cannot make a change. It is decided the warmer bag is to make the journey. We repack Debbie’s pack and we’re off to the trailhead.
It is early at the Berg Lake Trailhead below Mount Robson and the parking area, the very big parking area, is almost full. There are either a lot of enthusiastic day hikers or there is one heck of a lot of folks camping up and down the Berg Lake trail.
As I haul the packs out of the car I accidentally drag my camera out of the car, along with one of backpacks, and it bounces off the pavement. It is in a case so I curse and continue with our preparation.
Clothes changed, boots on, packs on our backs and we start across the parking lot and to the bridge that marks the start of the trail. Fifty meters down the trail a photo op presents itself. A mushroom is bathed in the morning sun and is calling out to be documented for all time. I take my camera from its case, remove the lens cap and glass falls to the ground. The filter that protects the camera lens is shattered. Shit! I try to unscrew the filter; the lens does not look damaged. I cannot, no matter how hard I try, remove the filter and the lens view is lousy with all the cracks in the glass. I drop my pack, return to the car, and stow my now useless camera in the concealed compartment of the Rav 4. This is somewhat of a disaster as Debbie, for reasons unknown, chose to leave her camera at home. We set out on a journey to a world class destination in what appears to be perfect weather with only our eyes to record the trip. Oh well.
After our previous trip along the West Coast Trail the travel is very easy. The first 4 km to a picnic area at the outlet of Kinney Lake is a road, literally. It is wide, the footing is good and the grades are not at all steep. This is the route most day hikers tread and it makes for a pleasant walk. We arrive at the lake in just less than one hour.
Wow, the adjacent river flows fast. There is enough elevation change and enough water volume to make for a very rough and fast kayak ride if one were so inclined to risk life and limb.
For the next 3 km to the Kinney Lake campground the track narrows and undulates up and down but is very passable.
This is the last stretch on which bikes are allowed. Again the hiking is easy; if you are on a day hike the shelter at the campground makes for a nice place to sit down with a ½ million dollar view. The trail follows the edge of the lake so there is virtually no elevation gain and we traverse the distance in about 40 mins.
The weather has turned in our favour and it is mostly sunny. We gambled and start out with a win. It is a beautiful walk in the woods, the tall healthy trees provide shade and the footing allows us to look around a bit. The water in both the lake and the river is a pale green, a light jade color, both are silty making the coloring opaque. This is an indication the waters are glacial, a fact that will soon become apparent as we follow the water to its source. The ground is covered with an undergrowth of moss and lichen. It grows everywhere, on the rocks, on the fallen trees, and on the soil. It looks like it would make a very soft bed should the need arise.
Further on, past Kinney Lake, we follow the forest route, an up and down trail that parallels the edge of a very wide delta/flood plain at the north end of the lake. The trail is more ‘trail like’ from here on. After crossing the river the trail goes up as a precursor to what is to come. It is steep but very manageable. It rises for about 2 km before dropping onto a bench where we will spend our first night at the Whitehorn campground.
Crossing the suspension bridge we see the shelter, sit and eat lunch before we look for a site to set up our tent. We travel 11 km in about 4 hrs. and 15 mins. We walked at a very civil pace, stopped several times and are quite surprised at how little time it took. We are still working on West Coast Trail timing.
Arriving as early as we do we have our choice of campsites. Learning from our WCT experience we view the entire campground before choosing a spot to bed down for the night. There are several tent pads up slope from the river and these should be a slight bit warmer than those at the lowest elevation and after the very cold night last night we think it prudent to move higher.
The rest of the afternoon is spent on the shore of the river, sitting on the rocks, staring at the amazing surroundings, filling in crossword puzzles and reading. Debbie thinks (again) since we do not have a camera we should try to record our surroundings by drawing. We try (sorry).
About 4 pm the campground has a few more customers. The day hikers are all on their way back out and the trail quietens.
In the distance we see our first goal for tomorrow’s hike, Emperor Falls. The misty spray is visible way above us in the trees. The ‘cliff’ we have to ascend is daunting but we do get a short 1km warm up before we have to go up.
Debbie climbs into her sleeping bag of choice and we rest, because tomorrow the hike is for real.