People routinely hike up to Berg Lake in Mount Robson provincial park and return in one day, but with three kids age 6 and under, we decided a week-long "expedition" was the way to go. Our friend and housemate Miriam would accompany us on the trip, evening out the adult:child ratio. Needless to say our packs looked and felt ridiculous, but we also knew that the real challenge would be getting our three year old, N, up the trail - whether it was on her own little legs or on someone's back.
The first day felt smooth, despite the heavy packs. The hike into Kinney lake is mostly flat and the trail is easy following the impressive Robson River. Christian carried N for a little bit just before the lake, but otherwise she kept a decent pace firmly holding onto Miriam's hand. We all enjoyed the campsite on the lake. The kids rearranged rocks in one of the creeks and gathered silt for mud pies.
Day 2 was "the long day"; on good trails usually we can rely on the kids for about 6 km and up to 500 m without incident, but the campsites we were able to get put us in uncharted territory with 9km and 630m to the Emperor Falls camp. After some initial confusion, where the kids thought that the tiny hill near the end of the Kinney Flats was "the" hill, they dug in and actually hiked really well. Early in the day the weather was good, and we saw several humming birds along the trail.
Eventually, as evening approached, we weren't far from the the camp but the weather took a turn and started to look like it was going to rain. I left the group to forge ahead (much to F's disappointment), deposit the tent, and return to pick up the kids. When I got back I found the kids were only about half a kilometre from the camp. Our oldest, F, was more than happy to accept a ride in Dad's backpack. N, however, initially ignored F's attempt to convince her to join in "No, I'm too busy walking!" N declared. Eventually F convinced her, and both kids ended up standing in Dad's empty backpack for a free ride the rest of the way. We got there just as it started to pour down.
The next day, with a short hike to Marmot Camp, was supposed to be an easy one but the weather was quite cold, windy, and with a constant threat of rain. Since my wardrobe consisted of only light pants, shirt, a sweater and rain jacket, I was very thankful to borrow all Miriam's base layers. Normally, if I'm cold, I can just increase my cardio output by hiking faster... but this doesn't really work when hiking with kids. You just kind of need to plot along at their speed. At Marmot camp we managed to get a site next to a really cool nook with benches and a table underneath a tree with a perfect place for hanging a tarp (normally tarps are forbidden, but this year they were encouraged due to covid in order to avoid crowding at the eating shelters). Despite the ominous looking weather Miriam and Line decided to take a quick hike up to the Hargreaves Lakes lookout. The rain stayed away for their trip, but it was apparently pretty cold and windy.
Day 4 involved moving camp a short distance to the Berg Lake camp, and it was also my first opportunity to get some kid-free hiking in. I got up early and backtracked along the trail to an open talus slope we'd crossed earlier, which I climbed up to a gap in the cliffs that eventually let me access the alpine ridge of Ranger Peak. I hiked and scrambled along the ridge on fresh snow most of the way to the peak, with great views back to Robson and neighbouring peaks, until the ridge cliffed-out fairly close to my turnaround time anyway. The kids appreciated the morning off, as well as the much shorter hike, and we even saw a porcupine on the way to the next camp. When Line booked the trip we were a bit disappointed not to be able to get a spot in the same place for two nights in a row, but in retrospect I think it was actually good for the kids to move camp every day, even just a short distance. In the afternoon, after hiking the kids to the new camp together, it was Line and Miriam's turn for some kid-free hiking. They went off towards the Mumm Basin loop (which was partially closed due to landslide) and Robson Pass; I watched the little ones play in the river and repeatedly comb their stuffies with pine needles while cooking dinner and setting up camp.
With another short hike (back to Marmot camp) we all got another shot at kid-free hiking. I made my way over to Snowbird Pass and back in the morning, then shepherded the kids off to Marmot camp while Miriam and Line (with Line carrying W, since I can't actually carry all the stuff and W) went off to check out the toe of the Robson Glacier. The two big kids and I were very excited to get the same camp spot, with the same great hanging-out tree.
With our alpine explorations over it was now time to head back, with another long day all the way down to Kinney Lake; this was a further hike than the big day on the way in, but mostly downhill. The kids did great although N imploded a mere hundred meters or so from our camp spot and Miriam carried her the rest of the way. We (barely) made it back with enough sunlight left for me to take a quick swim. On the last day, out to the car from Kinney Lake, we had a bit of a mixup - Line and Miriam hung out at the South end of the lake with W and N, but F and I hiked past it, so F and I ended up hiking the trail by ourselves. After talking to a number of other hikers we figured out the error and waited, eating a leisurely lunch by the river. We crossed the finish line together and made our way over to the visitor centre for a well deserved ice cream.
Say Nuth Khaw Yum
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