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 2 on this page. See also pre-trip, day 1, day 3, day 4, and day 5.


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Distance - 13km
Elevation change - 700m gain, 500m loss
5hours, 50minutes

Today was probably the toughest day for me, though not the longest, or the most elevation.
The elevation was split into a 400m steep first gain, then descent and 300m over another shoulder, which seemed tougher than one sustained push.
The horseflies were also particularly bad today, in part due to the very late start we got.
I found myself with a large blood blister from the first day, which would add to the chest cold in my list of trip pains.

We took way too long sleeping and getting ready this morning, and left the campground around eleven.
There was some benefit, as a low mist hung over the morning, but began to lift as we got moving.
This allowed us to get a beautiful view of Helmet Falls on the way out, though we didn't have time to take the close trail.
First thing, we hiked steep switchbacks to a pass below Limestone Peak, and descended to lunch near the glacial lake.

Morning mist lifts as we leave the campground.

Helmet Falls.

The drainage marked as a waterfall on the map...

Large, beautiful Helmet Falls is *not* marked...

Leaving Helmet Falls campground.

Meadows begin, nearing Limestone shoulder.

Our first view of the Rockwall to the south.

Descending from Limestone shoulder.

Unnamed creek betweeen Limestone and Rockwall.

Floodplain below glacial ponds.

Stagnant ponds are suprisingly pretty.

Larger pond from a remnant glacier.

Group crosses the outflow after lunch.

After lunch, we ascended another 300m to 2205m Rockwall Pass.
From the pass we gained a view of the Tumbling Glacier to the south, and the gates of Wolverine Pass - only break in the rockwall.

Meadows and larches on the way to Rockwall Pass.

Broad slope of Rockwall Pass.

Helpful trail sign! (snowbound pass markers)

Short break in Rockwall Pass.*

A look back to Limestone shoulder.

The gates of Wolverine Pass, Mounts Gray and Drysdale.

A glimpse of the stunning Tumbling Glacier.

Remnant Glacier below Rockwall Pass.

Some of us took a short detour to Wolverine Pass, just a couple hundred metres off the trail.
Mounts Drysdale and Grey on either side form imposing gates, and the pass provides a view west to the Columbia Valley.
It was little more than blue haze for us, but could be nice when the air is clearer.

Floodplain below Wolverine Pass.

Wolverine Pass.

Erin walks out for a view.

Columbia River Valley to the west.

National Park survey marker on Wolverine Pass.

Jeff looks back at the view across the Vermillion Valley.

After Wolverine Pass, we descend sharply to Tumbling Creek, and our second campground.
This is one of the knee-killing steep descents, but it's not too long.

The evening sun lights up Tumbling Glacier from a beautiful view of its many parts.

Tumbling Campground has nicer tentpads, tucked into the trees, and not awful for sediment.
Tumbling Creek is a nice-sized torrent, but comes directly off the glacier, and is thick with sediment.
We took our water from a smaller part on the side which flowed through some pools and allowed a bit of settling.
We brought some buckets that we could let the water settle in before filtering, which was really helpful with all the glacial sources.
I have been told that there is a spring near the upper end of the campground, but unfortunately didn't know to look at the time.

Photos taken by Rachel, except where marked with * taken by Scott.

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