Spectacular Twin Falls in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada.
Part 4 of 4 of the round trip hike from Takakkaw Falls to Twin Falls in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada.
From Laughing Falls, the hike continues north on Yoho Valley Trail. Elevation gain on this 5.0 KM (3.0 mile) segment is near 985 ft (300 m) on more rugged trail.
Yoho National Park in British Columbia, Canada is one of the most prolific fossil repositories on the planet. Nearby Burgess Shale in Yoho National Park contains one of the richest fossil beds in Canada. Ascending the Yoho Valley Trail encounters a sample slab of rock that was once part of an ancient sea bed. The action of waves over sand is undeniable.
Most of the ascent is through forest alternating between flat trail and steep ascents. Periodically there are fabulous views of rushing water through rugged wilderness. The sound of roaring river is ever-prevalent. Weather is fickle. There is constant transition between light rain, sun, cloud, corn snow, breeze and calm but all are very brief, not more than a few minutes at a time. The temperature does not shift more than a few degrees during the diversity of weather events which are not uncommon in the mountains. It is always expedient to be prepared for anything at any time in the mountains.
At the Twin Falls Wilderness Campground the trail presents one final ascent, with several false indications of arrival as the echo of falling water bounces through the valley, occasionally loud, then waning into the distance. Eventually the trail arrives at Twin Falls Chalet. The Twin Falls Tea House is designated a National Historic Site.
The original single-story building was constructed in 1908 by Canadian Pacific Railway as a rest stop for backpackers. In 1923, the two-story structure was added and still functions today as an overnight lodge and tea house. Reservations are required. One of the custodians comes out to chat with me. He is a young, very friendly, mountain man and we exchange animated stories. It would be impolite to ask but it seems fairly certain the custodian is related to ZZ Top.
There is a labyrinth of trail in the area and hiking towards spectacular Twin Falls is easy and straightforward. A bit of scrambling is required to achieve safe up close and personal position beside the frothing white water. In close proximity to the falls, a late lunch tastes better than it should while basking on a large rock beneath the warmth of the sun and enjoying the sound and mist from the falls interrupted by an occasional light dusting of corn snow. Magic! Absolutely amazing! It does not get better than this!
The decision is taken to choose an alternate return route past another sub-alpine lake. Crossing a bridge over the river which is cascading through narrow rock channels and hiking a kilometer (⅝ miles) in dense forest down a hill past multiple streams crossing the trail arrives at views through the trees of Marpole Lake beneath the trail on the left. Above there are excellent views of the Waputik Range and the glaciers the Waputik Icefields host.
At the shoreline of Marpole Lake there are wonderful mountain reflections floating on the surface of crystal-clear and pristine, emerald water.
At the end of the lake, there is an immediate recognition that examining the hiking guide more carefully might have been an excellent idea at the top of the hill. Looking ahead, the first obstacle is a mound of snow remaining from a winter avalanche. On the other side the next daunting task is navigating a route up, through and over millions of tons of limestone rock fall. The entire cliff face above must have collapsed hundreds or thousands of years ago.
The route is chosen dynamically in short spontaneous sections for 1.8 KMs (1⅛ miles) of uneven scrambling combined with bouldering and hiking on the occasional bit that remotely resembles a path.
Marpole Lake eventually disappears in the distance behind and beneath the rockfall. Small rock cairns from previous hiking victims help to determine direction. After more than a mile of uneven steps through rock fall on the Marpole Connector Trail, the steep and rustic 1.6 KM (1 mile) trail leading down to Laughing Falls is almost a relief.
The return to the Takakkaw Falls parking area from Laughing Falls is via the same route taken in, without side hikes, on 4.8 KMs (3 miles) of excellent, flat, hard-packed trail. The hiking day has been an outstanding adventure to incredibly beautiful places over a wide variety of terrain using a broad range of skill-sets and gear. The overall experience has also been a long and arduous day.