After breakfast on our second day in Yoho we headed north on the trails towards Laughing and Twin Falls. We were surprised by how cold it got overnight but as soon as the sun peeked over the mountains at 9am we started to warm up. The hike to Twin Falls was a beautiful way to start the day; through the woods and past some rivers and waterfalls with a moderate incline. The site around Twin Falls was really well maintained, with benches to rest and view the falls, an old lodge that is a Canadian National Historic Site (complete with an outhouse with a mountainside view), picnic tables, and maps.
We wanted to travel from there to the Iceline Trail, but with the popular Whaleback and Celeste Lake Trails closed because of washed out bridges we were forced to take the unmaintained Marpole Lake Trail fallowed by the long but easy Little Yoho Valley Trail. We started about 300 metres along Marpole lake before a couple we had seen earlier at the falls had informed us they were turning back because an avalanche had been through the area and wiped out the trail. The four of us debated briefly and then decided to continue on in hopes of finding where the trail picked up on the other side of the snow. We managed to bushwhack our way onto the avalanche snow and followed faded footprints to find our way back onto the path. The following 3 or so km were through a narrow, overgrown trail with many fallen logs and brush which turned out to be a lot of fun to navigate. It was nice to join up with a couple other hikers for a short while before parting ways as we turned onto the Little Yoho Valley Trail towards Iceline and they headed back to Tak Falls.
One of the coolest and potentially dangerous things on our trip happened a kilometre or so into Little Yoho Valley when we were stopped in our tracks by an animal on the trail. It was about 20m away and we had no idea what it was. Its colour was similar to a red panda, was shaped like a badger, about the size of a large marmot, had a long tail like a skunk, and colour patterns around its face like a raccoon. It walked away from us for a few meters and then scurried back into the bush. We waited where we were for a few minutes, arming ourselves with bear spray, a whistle, and of course my camera, and then continued down the path. Though we were unable to get a picture and didn't see the animal again, based on our description we were later able to find out from the visitor centre that it was a wolverine! We were told that they are not harmful to humans if we stick to ourselves and that our sighting was extremely rare! A wolverine's territory consists of hundreds of km, so it's not often that one will appear around humans - except in comic books and on movie screens ;).
Little Yoho Valley was a long trail along the Little Yoho River which lead to a meadow with cabins used by the local alpine club. We rested here for a short while and were briefly joined by a couple and their dog also climbing Iceline. We found ourselves playing a tag game of sorts throughout the remainder of the afternoon, one pair passing the other as they stopped for a break. These breaks became much more frequent as we broke out of the trees and onto the rock because we couldn't get enough of the panorama views. It was some sort of fairytale, hiking up and across snow and broken rocks just below glaciers and next to lakes with ice still floating on them - all in shorts and a tank top. The air was definitely cooler up there but the breeze felt nice as the sun was still warm on our tired muscles.
Here you can see the 360 degree view from approximately 2200m above sea level.
I did toss on my long sleeve for a bit after we began our steep descent, but it wasn't long before we were back sheltered by the trees and I was hot again. Working our way down the mountain we were very thankful we had gone up the way we did, spreading the ascension out over the day and just under 20km. Had we done the loop in the opposite direction we would have started our morning with an elevation gain of 700m in just 7km.
As we exited the trail into the parking lot just after 7pm (missing our 9 hour goal by a measly 15 minutes!) we had a quick celebration while debating laying down on the grass for a few hours. Though we were done the trail we had another 2 or so km along the road to get back to camp. We started chatting with a family who had just completed the trail themselves, however, and they graciously offered us a ride (and a couple hotdogs) and we were not in any state to decline.
It was the longest hike and one of the toughest I've ever done but it was easily one of my favourite days this summer. I loved being on the mountain all day, taking in some spectacular views, and realizing just how much my body is capable of! Check out the video from our day below and scroll down for more photos.