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


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Distance - 9.8km
Elevation change - 900m gain, 300m loss
3 hours, 50 minutes

This day includes the highest point of the trip - 2317m Numa Pass
It's the most elevation gain of any day (900m), but it's long and sustained enough that it's never too steep.

This was expected to be the most difficult day, with a long, solid elevation gain for most of the day's distance.
The horseflies had been really driving me to insanity, especially on the uphills.
When you have no lung capacity, it's rough that you can't stop without being swarmed.
Each day previous we'd started much later than desired, through a combination of sleeping in, and taking too long to eat and pack up.
Knowing the 900m was going to be tough, I hoped to get out as early as possible to avoid the horseflies for the ascent.
When I mistook the 6 on my clock for an 8, and woke everyone with the news that we'd slept in far too long, we were off to a good start. :)

Leaving the campground a little before nine (still far too long for eating and packing), we began the ascent without the heat or bugs of the day.
There are occasional breaks, and a nice waterfall, but really this 7km is just about going up.
The views opened up near the top with a last kilometre or so above treeline, and the horseflies caught us around this time.
The pain and irritation of being pecked by five clinging flies made me very thankful it was only the last bit,
and even more grateful for a bit of a breeze at the pass.

This way to Floe - right through the campground.

Bridge across a Numa Creeklet.

Boardwalk through some marshy sections.

Waterfall on another Numa Creeklet.

Nicely scored bridge.

Approaching Foster Peak as the heat and bugs come in.

View back of the ascent slope.

Laurier hikes the last bit to Numa Pass.

Scott and Erin join us at the pass.

Erin goes for a wander.

Arriving much earlier than guessed, we stopped for lunch and an extended rest atop Numa Pass, the high point of the trip.
Our views were somewhat hazy - we'd smelled fire for a day or two now, whenever a gust of wind passed through,
and it definitely faded Mount Assinniboine, but it was still quite the sight.
The most amazing thing was the utter lack of wind - we had essentially none all trip.
Numa was the windiest we'd felt, and it was barely a breeze. The heat and bugs had us wishing for some strong gusts that never came.

Floe Lake is definitely beautiful, but would be better enjoyed from this vantage were it early in the morning.
I sat inside my tent for the lunchbreak at the pass, and enjoyed the brief reprieve, as the horseflies were out in full force.
I'd been hoping to sneak in an ascent of Numa Mountain, thinking that a peak would be an awesome extra to a great backpack.
I was feeling physically better than expected under the circumstances.
(Tally now at chest cold, diminished lung capacity, blood blister under my blood blister, and immensely swollen calf).
The bugs, however, made the decision to forego Numa Mountain.
I had no hope that there was any height at which we could expect to escape the horseflies, and they'd driven me beyond my functional limit.
Some had hiked up a minor Numa bump while waiting, but found little more wind.

First bump on the way to Numa Mountain.

Marshall and Marta return from the bump.*

Putting on my tent bugscreen.*

Foster Peak to the west.

The striking unnamed (???) peak above Floe Lake.

Lovely two-parted Floe Lake.

Chinook takes a break at the pass.

Axel has fallen and can't get up!

For others,the view of Floe Lake sealed the deal - it's deep blue, sparkling, and highly enticing.
We started down the flowery meadows towards our final campground.

The group heads down the trail.

Another hiker reaches the pass.

South side of Numa Pass.

Trails go down to the lake.

Beautiful view of Floe Lake, but for the haze.

Bright flowers on the Floe-Numa trail.

Nearing the campground in the early afternoon.

Laurier walks through larch and flowers.

Floe Lake campground is definitely the most beautiful of the whole trip.
It's built into the hillside directly above the lake, so tentsites are more spread out, and many have great views.
The cooking area is right above the lake, with an awesome view, and beach access.
Since we arrived so early, we all jumped in the lake for a refreshing removal of accumulated grunge. It's bloody cold.

Gorana decided that real food and a hot shower were calling too loudly for her to ignore, given the many hours of daylight left.
She and Jason headed out around three, to finish the last 10km to the cars and head home early.
The rest of us had a nice afternoon in a beautiful place for some swimming, napping, and exploring.

We eventually went down to make dinner, which we ended up cooking and eating on the rocks by the lake (don't worry, no spills!)
The sunset over the west ridge gave beautiful deeper colours to the lake, and we spent half the evening just taking photos.
The only downside to Floe Lake was the bugs - they were awful here!
Horseflies in the day had made mosquitos a forgotten issue, but here they came out in full force, and we all lost pints.
We layered up to avoid them, but only rain gear made a meaningful deterrent, and the dedicated ones still managed. Yuck!

Swimtime!

Sparkling, crystal clear water.

Colours deepen as the sun sinks.

Late rays of sun sparkle on the lakeshore.

Marshall tries some shallow-water soloing.

hellooooo?

Dinner at the lakeside.

Last ray of sunlight from behind the Rockwall.

Evil science experiments commence.

Travelscrabble!

When heading to the tents, Jeff suprised a porcupine that was enjoying a munch on Axel's trekking pole handle.
It was scared away, and everyone took care to bring their gear in for the night.
We'd heard a few porcupine stories from the trail, but this was the only one we saw.

Photos taken by Rachel, except where marked (*) by Scott.

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