18 May Crown of the Continent July 31 – August 11, 2017
Date: Monday July 31 to Fri. Aug 11, 2017 (12 days)
Join the Nipika Hiking Guides on the mountain adventure of a lifetime. The Rockwall Highline in Kootenay National Park [ a World Heritage Site ] is rated as one of the most spectacular alpine hikes anywhere in the world. After two nights at Nipika Mountain Resort we depart on a 5 day alpine backpacking trip across alpine meadows surrounded by awe inspiring peaks. Expect to see an abundance of wildlife, enjoy the alpine flowers, and camp beside beautiful alpine tarns, while filling your camera with lifelong memories.
The trip ends along the upper Vermillion River where, after a short shuttle, we jump into our SOAR inflatable canoes for a 110 km paddling adventure down the Vermillion and Kootenay Rivers to the hamlet of Canal Flats. The rivers offer eye stopping scenery and fun class I – III rapids. Participants will receive extensive canoe instruction along the way while camping in stunning riverside camp spots.
On the final night we return to Nipika Mountain Resort for a windup banquet and a well earned hot shower and a relaxing sauna.
Skill level 2 for this trip.
Day 1– 4:00 PM check in to Nipika Mountain Resort, move into your comfortable log cabin and take a pre-dinner hike around the meadow. After enjoying a group dinner, the guides will host an evening “meet and greet orientation.”
Day 2 – After a hearty breakfast we will be embarking on a day hike around the Cross River Canyon Trail system with a trail lunch out in the mountains. Afternoon will be spent packing out for both the Rockwall Hike and the Vermilion/ Kootenay Canoe trip. Then it’s a plunge into Nipika Pond for a canoe lesson to learn the paddling strokes you will need on your trip. Finish the day off with a hot steamy sauna, wine n cheese reception and dinner. Evening will be spent around the bonfire and getting last minute packing completed for an early start.
Day 3 – 7:00 AM breakfast and an 8:00 AM departure for the Rockwall Trailhead at The Paint Pots. We hike 12.6 kms following Helmut Creek to Helmut Falls [ one of the highest waterfalls in the National Parks] for our first camping night in the mountains at the Helmut Falls campground. This is a relatively flat day of hiking through lush boreal forest following the main creek valley.
Day 4 – after breakfast we hike into Helmut Falls, a short side trip off our main route, catch a few stunning photos, then it’s up the switchbacks and over Wolverine Pass and across the Wolverine plateau to Tumbling Pass and into the Tumbling Creek drainage. Spectacular views of Tumbling Glacier are abundant throughout the day as we cross this high alpine meadow. The presence of the prominent rock wall which runs North to South all the way along the route frames the alpine meadows dramatically. But pay attention through here as this has been termed by writer Graeme Pole as the grizzly grocery store with its abundance of berries. Camping is at the Tumbling Creek Campground, 12.7 kms distance.
Day 5 – a short day offering the energetic participants a number of opportunities for fun side trips. It is 7.1 kms to the Numa Creek Campground, mostly through high alpine scenery, lakes and mountain wildflowers. Wildlife viewing opportunities are plentiful with bear, deer, elk, bighorn sheep and occasional mountain goats in the area. We will take a short side grip to Wolverine Pass with amazing views of the Bugaboos.
Day 6– Numa Creek to Floe Lake [ 10.2 kms] is a great day of open air, eye stopping mountain scenery, and one of the most beautiful mountain lake campgrounds found anywhere as the reward at the end of the day. Numa Pass is the highpoint of the day and endless kms of alpine larches to fill the hours of hiking. Although the milage does not seem great on this leg of the trip, the constant gain and loss of elevation makes this trip a challenge.
Day 7 – Floe Lake to the Floe Lake trailhead is 10.7 kms starting with a steep descent through larch and spruce forest then into a dramatic forest fire burn area to the parking lot, where we will be shuttled a short distance down the Vermillion R. to Vermillion Crossing where the canoes will be waiting. This is where the Nipika shuttle will deliver you to the Marble Canyon Campground, where we will transition to our canoe portion of the trip.
Day 8– This day will begin with the shuttle to Vermilion crossing where we will paddle to McLeod Meadows. The highlight of this day is the passage through Hector Gorge and Hector Rapids, a cascade over boulders and fun waves. The day is characterized by winding braided river channels, abundant wildlife and high mountains framing the river valley.
Day 9 – McLeod Meadows to Cross River confluence, and an afternoon hike through the Cross River Canyon Rec Site to the Natural Bridge. The hike passes a number of impressive waterfalls.
Day 10 – Cross River to Palliser beach, this is the most exciting day on the river with constant grades I to III rapids and deep canyons, ending on an open sunny beach.
Day 11 – Palliser Beach to Gibralter Rock. This day of grades I – III rapids ends at one of the most beautiful campsite on the entire Kootenay R. Camp under old growth cedars on a soft sandy beach.
Day 12 – Completes the journey to the hamlet of Canal Flats as the river opens up to the expanse of the Columbia Valley. Paddle past hoodoos, sand cliffs and gravel bars, then back to Nipika for a hot shower, plunge in the pond and our final dinner celebration.
Day 13 – After a relaxed breakfast in the lodge and morning packing up your gear it’s a fond farewell from your Crown of the Continent adventure!