Day 4 on our Canadian Rockies trip was the beginning of our second stage of the Berg Lake Trail. We fully expected this day to be one of the toughest of the whole week. After spending one night at Whitehorn camp, we packed our tents and backpacks, had breakfast, and prepared to tackle the remaining 11 km into Berg Lake. It had rained overnight, and was still drizzling when we started out; everything seems so much heavier with our raingear on.
The next 5 km of trail would be steep inclines and switchbacks of over 500m elevation gain through the Valley of a Thousand Falls before reaching the next campground past Emperor Falls. On the previous day we had hiked a bit of this trail (without our backpacks) and taken some photos while the weather was good.
The Valley of a Thousand Falls
There are three named waterfalls in the valley. As you make your way up the trail, the first you’ll encounter are the White Falls, followed by Falls of the Pool. Soon you’ll see (and hear) the thunderous Emperor Falls high on the trail. There is a separate side trail that leads right to the falls, and it is an impressive sight. It’s a great place to cool down on a hot day as the spray mist from the huge rooster tail is very refreshing. On our hike in there was hardly anyone there. Once you’ve gotten past Emperor Falls, the hardest of the climb is behind you, and your legs will be thankful for that. The remaining hike is still uphill, but much less steep.
Onwards to Berg Lake
Past the valley, the trail levels off and majestic Mount Robson comes into full view. The path winds along a few talus slopes with the Robson River raging below – a beautiful change of scene from the dense forest we had just navigated. We were lucky to have perfect weather timing too – as soon as the trees cleared, so did the clouds, revealing Mount Robson in all it’s glory. As we approached the northern face of the mountain, we got our first view of the Mist Glacier; following the flatlands to the Emperor and Marmot campsites, the Berg Glacier also came into view. We had arrived: we had reached Berg Lake.
The Berg Lake camp site is the largest in the park with some 20+ tent pads available, but we had opted for the more isolated site near Rearguard Mountain which was 1km further down the trail. This site only has 5 pads which virtually guarantees solitude and isolation. After taking a brief break at Berg Lake, we pushed onwards to the camp, and not a moment too soon – the weather had changed again and there were stormclouds gathering on the horizon. When we reached our pads, we quickly set up our tents just before the thunder and heavy downpour came upon us. It was a soggy evening and we had to cook in the rain, but everyone was happy to have made it to our destination.