The only thing to rely on when hiking in the mountains is unpredictable weather… When we visitied the Canadian Rockies in May for a hiking trip, we expected to be out in snow, rain and the maybe the occasional sunshine – 25+ C° in spring certainly wasn’t to be expected!

The scenery was nothing but beautiful, fresh green leaves and fast flowing mountain run-offs everywhere. After stocking up food in Calgary, we headed off to Banff to visit Johnston Canyon early the next day. The Canyon is quite a famous spot so we expected it to become busy during the day – visiting early is highly recommended as it really filled up on our way back around noon. Regardless if crowded or not, the canyon’s worth visiting to get an impression of the power of water that has carved it’s way through the limestone walls.

Johnston Canyon Gorge Waterfall

Johnston Canyon Gorge Waterfall

Johnston Canyon Gorge Waterfall

Johnston Canyon river bend

Johnston Canyon Gorge Waterfall

Johnston Canyon Waterfall and moss-covered limestone

Leaving Johnston Canyon and the scenic Bow Valley Highway behind we headed on to Yoho Nationalpark for the first backcountry hike. Despite the unusally warm temperatures in the valley, the track up to Yoho Lake was deeply snowcovered once we entered the forest at higher elevation. As a matter of fact, Parks Office told us we’d be the first visitors in season at Yoho Lake (if we’d make it throug the waist deep snow)!

Entering the forest area between Michael Peak and Wapta Mountain at around 1.800m elevation, the hike almost turned into a route finding trip because the path to was completely snow-covered. All in all though, it’s not hard to find the lake if youve got a map and know how to use it.

Red chair view, Yoho Lake Winter Camping

Red chair view, Yoho Lake Winter Camping

The view towards Wapta Mountain was always interesting – when the sun went down it started to get freezing and all the snow that had been melting all day long re-froze during the night.

Last light at frozen Yoho Lake Winter Camping

Last light at frozen Yoho Lake Winter Camping

A couple of meters from the lake shore, we found a nice snow-free spot to set up our camp. Who thought we’d be seeking shade when hiking the Rockies in spring!

Yoho Lake Winter Camping

Yoho Lake Winter Camping

Despite being not the most economic way to gain drinking water, we had to melt snow during our stay at Yoho Lake.

Melting ice @ Yoho Lake Winter Camp

Melting ice @ Yoho Lake Winter Camp

The night was freezing but it was so much worth the effort! Back in the valley at Emerald Lake we took advantage of the phenomenal weather and took an early season dip in the Lake, which of course was freezingly cold but super to wash off the sweat of the day’s hike!

Emerald lake in Yoho National Park

Emerald lake in Yoho National Park

After Emerald Lake, we stopped over at the Natural Bridge that spans over Kicking Horse River. Another nice spot but due to it’s easy accessability heavily crowded with tourbus folks.

Natural bridge / Kicking horse river, Yoho National Park

Natural bridge / Kicking horse river, Yoho National Park

Natural bridge / Kicking horse river rapids, Yoho National Park

Natural bridge / Kicking horse river rapids, Yoho National Park

Even though early season conditions restricted doing hikes like the Iceline or Lake O’Hara, visiting Yoho really payed off, especially for having that beautiful Yoho Lake area all to ourselves.
As the weather was supposed remain good for the next couple of days, we quickly went on to Mt. Robson Provincial Park. In spring, the valley are teeming with wildlife and we were lucky to see a good number of bears, bighorn sheep and other beloved critters. Just a gorgeous time of the year!

Juvenile brown bear and momin the area around Sasketchewan Crossing

Juvenile black bear and mom grazing in the area around Sasketchewan Crossing

Bighorn sheep on the Icefield Parkway

Bighorn sheep on the Icefield Parkway

Black bear in Kootenay Sony A7 Canon FD 80-200 L

Black bear in Kootenay

Leach Lake picknick spot near Jasper

Leach Lake picknick spot near Jasper

Arriving at Mount Robson park, the first glimpse at Robson from Park’s visitor center already looked promising for the next day’s hike.

Mt. Robson from the visitor centre

Mt. Robson from the visitor centre

After a couple of km on the track, Kinney Lake with its beautifully set camping area would make up for a nice overnight hike itself. Hiking on, it does get better and better, though

Kinney Lake reflections

Kinney Lake reflections

Colours of Kinney Lake campground shelter

Colours of Kinney Lake campground shelter

Colours of Kinney Lake campground

Colours of Kinney Lake campground

The track steadily climbs and the next nice place to have a break is Whitehorn campsite, again beautifully set on the banks of Robson River. Icing on the cake is a nice swing bridge that leads to the Valley of 1000 waterfalls and Whitehorn.

Swing bridge at Whitehorn, Berg Lake

Swing bridge at Whitehorn, Berg Lake

Valley of 1000 waterfalls on Berg Lake Trail

Valley of 1000 waterfalls on Berg Lake Trail

The valley is a good stroll as the track is mostly even and level. However, the hardest part is yet to come! A small sign at White Falls hints at what’s waiting behind the next corner.

Fuel up your watertank at White Falls

Fuel up your watertank at White Falls

Most of the elevation to Berg lake is done on the following 4 km – steep, but easily doable if you take your time.

Berg Lake view into the Valley of 1000 waterfalls

Berg Lake view into the Valley of 1000 waterfalls

Nice views all the way make the walk to Berg lake an easy ascend – one of the most stunning spots is found by a short detour off the main track: Emperor Falls, rushing down the western slopes of Mr. Robson.

Mighty Emperor Falls on Berg Lake Trail, stitch Panorama

Emperor Falls on Berg Lake Trail, stitch Panorama

Close to the falls is Emperor Falls campsite, again nicely set by the river but unfortunately still completely snowcovered. Still worth a quick lunch + photo stop, though!

Mighty Robson as seen from Emperor Falls campsite on Berg Lake Trail, stitch Panorama

Mighty Robson as seen from Emperor Falls campsite on Berg Lake Trail, stitch Panorama

Behind Emperor Falls, the trail slowly flattens and leads to a beautiful high elevation valley tucked between Whitehorn Peak and the Robson / Helmet massive. Approaching Berg lake, the scenery changes from forest to open scree terrain with Mist glacier to your right. Beyond Whitehorn, we didn’t meet any other people which gave this area an almost private atmosphere – one of the advantages when hiking in shoulder season.

Scenery close to Marmot campsite on Berg Lake Trail

Scenery close to Marmot campsite on Berg Lake Trail

Behind a small hill, the views open up on Berg lake and the stunning Berg glacier with Rearguard Mountain in the background

Finally made it to Marmot campsite on Berg Lake Trail!

Finally made it to Marmot campsite on Berg Lake Trail!

Quickly, we set up tent + and hammock at Marmot campsite and just admired the scenery…

Enjoying a private Berg lake beach at Marmot campsite, Sony A7 / Canon FD Tilt Shift 35 2.8

Enjoying a private Berg lake beach at Marmot campsite, Sony A7 / Canon FD Tilt Shift 35 2.8

After a 20km uphill hiking, it’s alright to have some whiskey with glacier ice, even when the sun is still out? We watched the Harlekin ducks chasing each other around and time passed by quickly.

Doesn’t taste right without glacier ice, Berg Lake @ Marmot campsite

Doesn’t taste right without glacier ice, Berg Lake @ Marmot campsite

Catching the afternoon sun at Berg Lake pebble beach at Marmot campsite

Catching the afternoon sun at Berg Lake pebble beach at Marmot campsite

Berg lake run-off in late afternoon, Marmot campsite

Berg lake run-off in late afternoon, Marmot campsite

Berg lake is a hiker’s and photographer’s paradise (for the latter even you have to deal with boring blue skies every day..), and around sunset and sunrise the lake reveilled some nice reflections.

Mount Robson reflections at sunset, Berg Lake / Marmot campsite, Sony A7 / Canon FD Tilt Shift 35

Mount Robson reflections at sunset, Berg Lake / Marmot campsite, Sony A7 / Canon FD Tilt Shift 35

Mount Robson reflections at sunset, Berg Lake / Marmot campsite, Sony A7 / Canon FD Tilt Shift 35

Mount Robson reflections at sunset, Berg Lake / Marmot campsite, Sony A7 / Canon FD Tilt Shift 35

Marmot campsite is conveniently located at the edge of a (young) forest that provides enough shelter to seek shade from the ever-burning Rockies spring-sun! Hanging around in the hammock with glacier view wasn’t that bad, either

Berg Lake / Marmot hammock campsite panorama

Berg Lake / Marmot hammock campsite panorama

As in any maintained backcountry campsite in the Rockies, the Berg lake sites are usually equipped with food lockers. We didn’t have to worry about bears crossing our paths up at the lake (at least we didn’t find any signs), but the gang of ground squirrels posed a constant threat of raiding our food supplies! Who ever uses hiking boots as a salt lick must be desperate and surely doesn’t have a problem gnawing its way through the walls of a tent to get some cockies?

Ground squirrel salt lick, Berg Lake / Marmot campsite

Ground squirrel salt lick, Berg Lake / Marmot campsite

Next day we went for a day hike to explore the area around Robson glacier and Tobbogan falls. As the paths around the lake were still snowcovered, gaitors came in handy.

Berg Lake bench with glacier view

Berg Lake bench with glacier view

Enjoying the excellent new hut at Berg Lake campsite

Enjoying the excellent new hut at Berg Lake campsite

Taking a nap at the foot of Robson glacier, Berg Lake

Taking a nap at the foot of Robson glacier, Berg Lake

Scrambling through the snow to Tobbogan falls was one of the best short detours in the area. Due to deep and constantly melting snow going any further wasn’t possible – but just sitting on the warm rocks watching the waterfall rushing towards Berg lake still was a great sight

View from halfway up at Toboggan Falls, Berg Lake

View from halfway up at Toboggan Falls, Berg Lake

Stunning panorama view from Toboggan Falls at Mount Rearguard, Berg glacier and Mt. Robson

Stunning panorama view from Toboggan Falls at Mount Rearguard, Berg glacier and Mt. Robson

Berg Lake campsite great place to hang around

Berg Lake campsite great place to hang around

Pointing out the obvious

Getting ready early on day 3 on the trail, we prepared to walk back 19km mostly downhill to the car park

Berg Lake track, beautiful valley looking at the apptly named Whitehorn mountain

Berg Lake track, beautiful valley looking at the apptly named Whitehorn mountain

Berg Lake view into the Valley of 1000 waterfalls

Berg Lake view into the Valley of 1000 waterfalls

Swing bridge at Whitehorn, Berg Lake

Swing bridge at Whitehorn, Berg Lake

Spring runoff scenery of Berg Lake trail

Spring runoff scenery of Berg Lake trail

So far, we’ve been blessed with summer-like temperatures and constant sunshine. We had a nice day in Jasper before heading on to the Windermere Valley to enjoy some hotsprings and to see if we could make it up the famous Bugaboo Provincial park. Again, we took the Icefields parkway route to soak in the amazing mountain views. We found a nice picknick spot close to Saskatchewan River Crossing –  the last stop of our trip in good weather!

Picknick spot at Saskatchewan River Crossing, Icefields Parkway

Picknick spot at Saskatchewan River Crossing, Icefields Parkway

Black bear in Kootenay Sony A7 Canon FD 80-200 L

Black bear in Kootenay Sony A7 Canon FD 80-200 L

Young elk around Jasper

Young elk around Jasper

Female Bighorn Sheep, Jasper

Female Bighorn Sheep, Jasper

Soon after lunchbreak, the rain started pouring down. Despite the bad weather, we wanted to see Peyto lake because we’ve heard it would be likely to be already free of ice. At the viewpoint, we had an amazing view of Peyto lake as the bad weather front was still in sight while the sun started to battle through the clouds giving the lake an almost unrealistic, fluorescent colour.

Peyto Lake colours after the storm

Peyto Lake colours after the storm

Amazing, almost unnatural blue colour of Peyto Lake Sony A7 Canon FD 80-200 L

Amazing, almost unnatural blue colour of Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake spring colours in May, after a rainstorm

Peyto Lake spring colours in May, after a rainstorm

Icefields Parkway scenery

After arriving in Radium, we opted to stay in a hotel for the night as the weather was supposed to get worse during the night. As soon as we we got comfortable in our room, a heavy rainstorm, that surely would have tested the limits of our tent, began. If we’d been at the Bugaboo campsite already, we might have gotten into trouble. Next day was nice, but still much water on the dirtroads to Bugaboo. After debating for a while whether we should take the risk of potencially wrecking our sedan rental car or to leave in peace finally decided to give this one a miss.. See you next time!

Hence, we went off to soak in some of the Hot Springs in the area, specifically Lussier hotsprings and Ram Creek warm springs. The campsite at Alces Lake was nice and a good base to visit Lussier in the evening and early morning, when it’s much less crowded than during the day.

Young Black bear on the way to Bugaboo Provincial Park

Young Black bear on the way to Bugaboo Provincial Park

Lussier natural Hot Springs pool

Lussier natural Hot Springs pool

Ram Creek warm Springs pools

Ram Creek warm Springs pools

Ram Creek warm Springs pools

Ram Creek warm Springs pools