Peter Austen - The Joys of Berg Lake

Kinney Lake

The Joys of Berg Lake:
By Peter Austen

Reaching Berg Lake in late August after a 12-mile hike from the Yellowhead Highway is a sublime pleasure. The mosquitoes have all gone back to the Yukon; their southern biting holidays over and the last of the alpine gentians are packing it in for the winter. Fall is in the air, leaves are just turning light orange and the north face of Robson is bare of snow. In its place blue and green ice hangs suspended below giant gargoyles. Oh joy! We have pork chops and Cajun spices and a small bottle of unopened Drambuie. Icebergs drift lazily around Berg Lake and the occasional splash whips your head around as another Volkswagen sized berg hits the lake from the Mist Glacier.

Robson south faceI can hear vague shouts from the ghost of Curly Phillips, the horsepacker, and the clients of Konrad Kain in 1913 as they made ready to have a crack at "The Mountain of The Spiral Road" as the native people called Robson. Mount Robson is a very difficult ascent from any side. The weather is notoriously fickle and believe it or not on average Mount Everest welcomes three times as many people on its summit as Mount Robson does. In some years no one reaches the one square meter of snow on top.

Toboggan Falls tumbles along to the side of the Robson Chalet and it is a super half-day hike along its banks. There is a hidden cave on the lower slopes of Mumm Peak about one hour above the Chalet. Take a flashlight or lose yourself forever in its slippery labyrinth.

Wandering by the shores of Adolphus Lake reminds me of my childhood in the English Lake District. Meadows, poplars and conifers meld into the landscape. It is peaceful here at the turn of the summer season.

Robson+Berg LakeSnowbird Pass is three hours hike from Berg Lake Chalet and is occasionally closed to save the trails from erosion but when I can go up I wait in the meadows high up for about an hour. Then I am usually privileged to have ten Hoary marmots sit on my lap and cast their big brown eyes into mine. Nuts, give me nuts, their hypnotic secret code implores. I know I shouldn't but I give in they are so cute and I can't live on one thing all the time can I? A complete circumnavigation of Robson takes about ten days and is a wilderness undertaking starting at Moose Pass. The trail can be very hard to find. The north boundary trail starts from Berg Lake and goes through some glorious isolated country to finish at Celestine Lake in Japer Park. I knew it was isolated when I ran into a grizzly bear and we took off at high speed in different directions.

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Peter Austen - The Joys of Berg Lake