The Rockwall
A leisurely 5-day trip through a Rockies classic in Kootenay National Park

I've had my eye on this trail since I saw a photo of Floe Lake in my first year of hiking. This year, I finally made it happen.
Day 1 on this page. See also pre-trip, day 2, day 3, day 4, and day 5.


Click to view full map

Distance - 14.6km
Elevation change - 400m gain, 100m loss
5hours, 30minutes

We took our time along the interesting first section, and were moving pretty slow for the boring final 8km.

We were a little slow getting packed up in the morning (as would become a trend), and headed out for the car shuttle.
The north trailhead is just down the road from the campground, at the Paint Pots trailhead.
This is shared with many tourists and day-strollers, as the trail to the paint pots is paved.
It's a pretty neat interpretive trail though, with some signs explaining the formation of the ochre beds.
The pools with green things growing, covered in an orange layer are neat.

Ten packs, lined up and awaiting bodies.

Crossing the Vermillion River.

Pretty blue Vermillion River. NOT aptly named.

'Paint Pots' of iron oxide.

Bright orange-red ground.

Stream flowing from the Ochre beds.

Deeper Ochre pond with orange-coated grasses.

Little tree grows and oxidizes.

Past the ochre beds, we got our first taste of western-slope rockies - lush and green, with far thicker vegetation than I'm used to.
There are two campgrounds at junctions along the trail in the first few kilometres. We stopped at the second for lunch by Ochre Creek.

Group pauses along the lush trail.

The very lush trail.

Cow Parsnip on an avalanche slope.

Ochre Creek.

Stopping for lunch.

mmmm, breaktime.

The last part of the trail got a little tedious, but included some nice diversions like the suspension bridge over Helmet Creek.
I don't know if this just isn't often cleared, or could have had a more recent storm, but there was a good bit of blowdown to navigate.
When we reached the view just before campground of Helmet Falls and the Warden Cabin, we remembered what we were in it for,
and what awaited the rest of our trip.
We had some bugs all along the way, but they weren't overly problematic. Little did we know what awaited.
The only bad weather of our whole trip came on day one, with a thunderstorm we fully expected passing through the campground during dinner.
With our tarps set and our jackets on, it had minimal impact on our night, and we were thrilled to get it over with

Marta, Jeff, and Erin play over-and-under.

Marshall and Scott navigate another tree.

Serious blowdown maze.

Group hikes along a brief view.

Helmet Creek suspension bridge - great fun!

Laurier waits for Erin to cross.

Now this is an office!
Helmet Falls Warden Cabin. Absolutely beautiful.

Helmet Falls from the cooking area.

Helmet Falls campground is well-located, with a nice view of the falls right from the eating area.
The tent pads are arranged largely in one big blob, so one good snorer could wake the campground.
The water source is a strong flowing creek, with not too much sediment.

Photos taken by Rachel.

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