Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Canadian Rockies: Yoho National Park

Driven out of Banff by forest fires (smokey skies, closed trails, and too-near fires), we headed west to Yoho National Park.

Once again, we lucked out, finding the last available campsite in the park at Monarch Campground.  Of course, it was a walk-in site, but with several trips using the wheelchair as packhorse, we were able to walk and roll in, as we watched the parking lot and roadside fill up with less lucky last-minute campers in tents and trailers.

Natural bridge

A paved path leads from the parking lot to a bridge with a view of the rushing river eroding the rock to form a bridge.  

My main memory of this stop was busloads of tourists who disembarked, stepped onto the bridge, snapped a photo, and got back on the bus.  This was especially memorable, because the natural bridge for which the stop was developed, was actually only visible from the far side of the bridge.  Thus they probably checked it off of their list and took a photo of lovely rocks and water, but never saw the natural bridge itself!

In this parking lot is one of the area's of the few truly accessible outhouses!

Takakkaw (Tak) Falls

Among the highest falls in Canada, Tak Falls tumble high above the valley floor over 800 feet in one stretch for a total of over 1200 feet (numbers from Wikipedia). A paved path connects the parking lot with the waterfall lookout, about 1/3 mile away (number from my estimation).  The trail is often in the midst of mist and spray, so wear a raincoat or be prepared for a chilly soak.  The way is hilly, so a wheelchair probably needs assistance.  There is also a longer, non-accessible trail with great views of Daly Glacier.

In the parking lot, there is another disabled outhouse conundrum. An outhouse designated "disabled" is on a 6" high concrete slab; meanwhile, the women's washroom next to it has 2 too-small stalls with a ramp poured to get up to door. Go figure.

Ted and two happy rock climbers/photo bombers
Jenny showing off the
paved path in front of
the falls

Emerald Lake

We met several people who said they preferred Emerald Lake in Yoho to Lake Louise, because it offered the same brilliantly-colored water and towering mountains with much fewer people.  Similarly, it also offered canoe rentals, a lodge, and a lakeside trail.  The water is usually emerald green (thus the name), but for some reason, it shows up brilliant blue in our photos.
Trail around Emerald Lake 

The lakeside trial goes 5.2 km around Emerald Lake.  Some of it is paved and accessible to all wheelchairs.  On the resort side, the paved trail is above the lake, and on the opposite side it's paved or hard-packed gravel, with small ups and downs, next to the lake.  At the end of the lake, past the resort, the trail becomes a narrow dirt path full of roots, with some boardwalks.   

Emerald Lake at sunset

Having spent so much time in the Rockies, we had to trade our idea of a leisurely camping- and hiking-filled trip home for a one-day race to Seattle.  Turns out not to have been a bad turn of events after all, since most camping and hiking areas in southern BC were closed or covered with acrid smoke as a result of BC's onslaught of forest fires.