This week I am heading out on my first backpacking trip for five days and four nights to hike the 42 km Berg Lake Trail at Mount Robson Provincial Park in British Columbia. This hike is a more recent addition to my bucket list, as Josh and I wanted to do something epic in celebration of our 10th wedding anniversary this year and decided to spend some time hiking this trail. We almost missed getting a permit as I thought registration opened up on January 1st, but it was actually opened up on October 1st meaning three months had passed for people to scoop up prime dates. So here I was on December 29th frantically trying to book campgrounds in an order that made sense as the dates and campgrounds we originally planned to get were all booked up. I was a bit bummed at first that the dates around our anniversary were all booked up and we had to settle on going in September, but in hindsight this was great as the smoke was awful around our anniversary, and while it’s going to be a rather chilly (and potentially rainy) hike – we don’t have to deal with much, if any of the smoke. Without any further ado, here are the five reasons why I am stoked to hike The Berg Lake Trail:
The hike is going to be mentally and physically challenging. Instead of wanting to shit my pants in fear of the challenge this hike will pose, I am trying to embrace it. This is my first ever backcountry backpacking trip, and the longest hike I will have been on. (It will probably be just over 50 km when all said and done – depending on how far we hike out from our base during a couple of our days) And while I’ve done plenty of hikes (some in the backcountry), and camped a countless number of times – I just haven’t put any of that together before. So with that, there is uncertainty, potentially over packing, forgetting a necessity, being out of cell service range (we have a personal communicator satellite device for emergencies), etc.
The first day is going to be a huge challenge! We are hiking 16km with 2500 feet of elevation gain (with 1700 feet of gain on the last five kilometers.) I have only ever done about 1000 feet of elevation gain in a hike before… And we can’t stop at the close campground either, as ours is booked further down the trail. There is no tapping out. But with that, we thankfully we get most of the elevation out of the way on the first day as the trail up to Berg Lake is 2585 feet of gain.
There are also bridges that require crossing (I don’t like bridges, especially suspension bridges. And this one is an only one person on the bridge at any given time – so there is not going to be any hand holding) As for the physical aspect of it, I have not trained for this hike nearly as much as I should have or wanted to. With last years season cut really short due to that damn massive bug bite reaction on my leg that took forever to heal, and the recovery time getting off my meds (which I still don’t feel 100%), next to no time off together with Josh this year due to both of us changing jobs, Josh getting some weird dizzy spell for a couple of months, and then the poor air quality from the fires, and in all honesty – being a bit lazy some days getting out to hike just didn’t really happen…
The trail traverses three biogeoclimatic zones, old-growth cedar/hemlock forest, subalpine, and alpine tundra. We will be crossing bridges, climbing switchbacks, and seeing a “thousand” waterfalls, lakes, glaciers and wildlife. I think the biggest reward of this hike is seeing some absolutely stunning landscapes that not everyone has experienced in the flesh. To be standing close to the roaring Emperor Falls feeling the power of the water, to potentially see a bit of the glacier calve off into the lake, and just seeing other people’s photos and video brings me to (happy) tears. I am so excited that I will be there so soon experiencing this for myself.
Why stay at a 5-star hotel, when you can stay at a 5-million star hotel?!
I grew up just outside of a small town and seeing the stars on a nightly basis was part of my everyday. It wasn’t until I moved to the city that I realized that seeing stars (or aurora borealis) didn’t really exist here due to the light pollution and the absence of a dark night. There was only one time (actually exactly five years ago today) that I had experienced the darkest of nights (and even then there was a single light in the area), I went to bed early and got up in the middle of the night to photograph the night sky, as I unzipped the tent and looked up, I saw thousands of twinkling stars shining down on me. It was pure magic, and I don’t even have the words to describe how wonderful it was. I can’t wait to experience night like I have never experienced it in my life.
LIVING WITH LESS
Ever since I moved into an apartment MUCH smaller than the duplex I was living in, I have found less is more when it comes to stuff. (And I still feel like my place is too big and I have too much stuff) On my backpacking trip everything I will need to survive for five days I will be carrying in my 65L backpack. Food, some water, clothing, toiletries, shelter, first aid, my 10 essentials, and my camera gear. I will be cooking my food on a camp stove and eating out of the prepackaged food bags (to save having to do dishes and the extra weight of a dish – yes, every ounce counts!), collecting and filtering my water from the rivers and lakes, wearing the same clothes everyday (packing only a spare), and not showering (thank goodness for wipes!) The challenge of living with exactly what you need gives you the opportunity to live more. (In this sense – hike longer, relax, connect with nature, connect with friends you meet on the trail, etc)
PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY
I am actually trying something new on this hike that I have been meaning to since I got my GoPro nearly two years ago, and record video of my trip and compile it into a kick ass video! I actually haven’t ever created video for myself (other than my one second a day project I am currently working on) I’m not sure if I am going to be just creating a short travel video cut to music, or a longer documentary style with voice over commentary – but I will be recording as much as I can while out on the trail, along with the usual photography.