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Berg Lake Trail - Mount Robson, British Columbia

August 26, 2004

Evening view of Mount Robson from Trans-Canada HWY
Evening view of Mount Robson from Trans-Canada HWY

Though, officially, this isn't a climb to any peak, it was such an outstanding location that I had to include it in my list of trips.

Visiting the small town of Valemount with Alice and and old friend of mine, we stayed a couple of nights in this incredible mountain environment. This gave us the opportunity to go for a hike on the Berg Lake trail... a 21 km trail that makes its way to and along the base of the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies... the spectacular 12,972 foot Mount Robson.

Glacier fed river along the Berg Lake trail
Glacier fed river along the Berg Lake trail

The moment the mountain comes into view along the Trans Canada Highway, you are blown away. The size and height of this mountain is pure sensory overload on the brain. If you're real lucky, you may get a glimpse of its peak, however, more likely then not, it will be obscured by cloud cover. But that doesn't matter, because standing at the base of this mountain on the Berg Lake trail is to really get a sense of just how small we are in this large world of ours.

The day we took to the trail was a beautiful afternoon. We would have loved to have been able to do an overnighter and camped near the glaciers on Berg Lake, but as our time was limited we decided to do a "quick" hike to Kinney Lake instead.

This is a non-strenuous hike with a total elevation gain of only 400 feet (800 feet if you go all the way to Berg Lake), however it is a bit of a distance to Kinney Lake (over 14 km round trip). It basically follows a light blue, glacier fed river through the forests of evergreens. As would be expected, the river is stunningly cold, swift and beautiful... not the kind of place you can cool off in.

As this is one of the most popular hikes in the Canadian Rockies, or so it is said, we must have come at a unique time because we didn't encounter too many people along the way. When we finally reached the edge of Kinney Lake we found a couple of nice camping spots just off the trail. For a while I stood looking out across the turquoise water. To the left was the "valley of a thousand falls" and to the right was the base of Mt. Robson. The view was so entrancing that I had a hard time pulling myself away from it. I wanted to let the awe inspiring view sink into the deepest recesses of my mind... wanted some kind of lasting emotional and visual impression to remain. Of course, today, it is a memory like all the others, but yet I know that view was the kind of panorama one could meditate on for an eternity. I felt a real peacefulness in that spot. If only life was filled with those moments everyday.

Beginning of Kinney Lake
Beginning of Kinney Lake
The view I wanted to meditate on for a century
The view I wanted to meditate on for a century
End of Kinney Lake
End of Kinney Lake
Helicopter view of Kinney Lake
Helicopter view of Kinney Lake

When I finally pulled myself out of my trance, we continued on the trail to the far end of Kinney Lake where the views of the waterfalls on the mountain side were even more clear. Everything about that mountain was stunning...

As afternoon came into evening we decided to head back, but it wasn't our last encounter with the mountain. The next day, we took a helicopter ride around the mountain and were able to take in unbelievable views of the waterfalls in the "valley of a thousand falls" as well as close-ups of the giant glacier working its way down to Berg Lake. Once again, the word of the day was... stunning!


Information

Distance: 14 kilometers roundtrip
Time: 4-5 hour trip
Elevation Gain: 400 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 2800 feet
Maximum trail Elevation at Kinney Lake: 3200 feet (approximately)
Mount Robson Elevation: 12,972 feet

GPS Coordinates: 5306'38"N, 11909'21"W (WGS84/NAD83).

Historical information at Peakfinder.


Helicopter ride gallery

Glacier fed Berg Lake
Glacier fed Berg Lake
Glacier approach
Glacier approach
The dwarfed mountains next to Robson
The "dwarfed" mountains next to Robson
The reason no one likes crossing glaciers
The reason no one likes crossing glaciers
Building sized seracs
Building sized seracs
Close-up view of some seracs
Close-up view of some seracs

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