Katee Pederson
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Updates, personal work, and behind the scenes by photographer Katee Pederson.

Yoho Pass

Upon arriving in Yoho National Park and setting up our campsite, Kendra and I took a look at a trail map and decided to hike Yoho Pass from Takakkaw Falls past Yoho Lake and towards Emerald Lake.  It took us longer than it should have to find the trailhead in the parking lot of the nearby hostel, and we stared questioningly at more than one trail marker trying to decide which turn to make, but in the end we found what we were looking for and set on our way.

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The route began with a pretty intense incline for the first few kilometres, which was a bit of a struggle being our first day in the mountains.  It wound it's way up past streams and waterfalls (we also took a minor detour to have lunch at Hidden Lakes) towards Yoho Lake and the following pass.  The glacial lake was much more bone-chilling cold than nice-and-refreshing cold this early in the summer but I knew I would regret not going for a swim so we kicked off our boots and jumped in.  

The pass itself was fairly level terrain with a few hills and a bit of snow here and there and was a nice break from our previous elevation gain.  Once Emerald Lake came into view on the other side we found ourselves descending next to an open rock face on broken shale.  Now fully exposed to the intense sun for the first time in the day, we began to notice our water supply quickly dwindling and the clock ticking closer to the 3:30 turn around time we had set earlier in the day.  

We knew we weren't going to make it all the way down to Emerald Lake, but we weren't complaining.  We were already starting to get dehydrated from the heat and were only going downhill.  With sounds of a river ahead of us and in hopes of being able to reach it and fill our bottles we told ourselves that we'd do 2 more switchbacks and if the river wasn't accessible before then we'd turn around and head back to a stream we had passed 20 minutes earlier.

We reached the river right on point with our turn around time but it's walls were too steep to risk an attempt down to the water.  Instead we took a few pictures and then headed back up the mountain for what was easily the most difficult part of our trip.  With the sun not only on our backs but also reflecting off the rocks in front of us, it was the closest thing I've come to being in an oven.  As I took my last sip of water shortly after 4 I called back to Kendra "as soon as we reach this stream, I'm just going to lay my body across it!"  She replied with an unconvinced "okay Katee" but that was exactly what I did about 15 minutes later.  

We heard mixed reviews on drinking glacial water over the weekend, but we decided to take calculated risks in a few situations.  For the most part we only drank water when we knew that there were no trails between us and it's source with the conclusion that we would rather have the runs a few days later than heat exhaustion in the moment.  Of course easy alternatives would have been to carry a filtration system or water tabs but those are either expensive or bad tasting so we lived the yolo lifestyle instead.  I'm not going to recommend you drink untreated water while hiking, but I will say that neither of us got sick. 

Once back at Yoho Lake we stopped for one last snack before making our final descent home to our campsite.  We totalled over 15km through some spectacular views with a 500m elevation gain in approximately 6 hours. While this was by no means a record breaker it was a great warm up for our extended trek of the Iceline Trail the following day.  

Watch my video from the hike below or scroll down to see more photographs.