Parks Canada has quite the flowery write-up dedicated to the Rockwall trail in Kootenay National Park:
Suffice it to say my expectations were high!
Dana had made campsite reservations months ago as per recommendations from a hiker friend. We were scheduled to hike:
- Sept 1: Paint Pots to Helmet Falls (14.7 km; 350 m elevation gain)
- Sept 2: Helmet Falls to Tumbling Creek (12.5 km; 410 m elevation gain, 260 m elevation loss)
- Sept 3: Tumbling Creek to Floe Lake (17.7 km; 1000 m elevation gain, 1000 m elevation loss)
- Sept 4: Floe Lake to Floe Lake parking lot (10.7 km; 700 m elevation loss)
My in-laws kindly shuttled us and our vehicle to the Floe Lake parking lot, and then dropped us off at Paint Pots to begin our epic hike. Thanks Barry and Donna! (The other alternative was hitchhiking between the two parking lots, so the in-law express was much preferred!
Day 1 – Sept 1: Paint Pots to Helmet Falls (15.4 km; 540 m ⇑, 235 m ⇓)
The first day of backpacking was a good warm-up for the rest of the long weekend – not insane elevation gain or distance. Friday was probably our smokiest day on the trail (from the Verdant Creek wildfires). We got rolling around 12:30 that day, which was fine for the distance we needed to cover.
From the beginning, we were impressed with the trail maintenance on the Rockwall trail. Great bridges and obvious trail markers, as needed. Sometimes the mileage was a little questionable on the trail signs, but we’ll cut them some slack. I’ll include Dana’s Garmin watch’s data in my posts for comparison.
We had a few serious climbs that had us gasping for air at times, but in hindsight, they weren’t too bad. Mostly we hiked through the forest and enjoyed the scenery.
We rolled into Helmet Creek campground around 4:30 and got set-up. It was pretty busy there with lots of campers, and our campsite wasn’t very private, but at least our stay was just for one night. The cooking area was happenin’ that night and it was hard to get a table to cook at, but eventually we elbowed our way in and shared with two backpackers we nicknamed Flames and French.
Like the party animals we are, we were in bed and asleep by 8:30 that night. We didn’t sleep amazingly, despite the exercise that day, but managed to sleep in intervals until 7:00 the next morning.
I’ll be back tomorrow with Day 2: Helmet Falls to Numa Creek!