Wednesday, August 3, 1988

Hike: North Boundary Trail, Alberta-British Columbia, Canada

Length: 86.6 miles
Type: Point to Point
Highest Elevation: 7,150 feet
Elevation Gain: 3,440 feet
Duration: 10 days


Getting There

I flew up from San Diego, California to Vancouver, BC and met my fellow hikers & our two guides. We stayed at a hostel somewhere and left the next morning for Jasper, Alberta on the Trans-Canadian Railway.
Train Station in Vancouver, BC

Observation car

 "The stretch from Vancouver to Jasper is around 19 hours, and you gain an hour along the way as the clocks go forward when you cross into Alberta. The train normally leaves Vancouver's Pacific Central Station at 3pm and arrives into Jasper at 11am the next day, though the timetable can change depending on the season." 1

Train Station in Jasper, Alberta

Train route from Vancouver, BC to Jasper, AB via Banff

Trans-Canadian Railway

From the itinerary:

"August 1: Fly to Vancouver, arrive at 3:30 in the afternoon. Travel by taxi to the Jericho Park Youth Hostel where we'll spend the fist night eating burgers, getting acquainted, and sorting through piles of expeditionary equipment. Extra gear and clean clothes for the trip home can be left at the hostel.

August 2: Morning free in Vancouver. We might swim or head out to Granville Island for lunch. In the afternoon, we collect our packs and head over to the train station to catch the 4:30 train to Jasper. We'll spend that night on the train, in seats that lean way back for sleeping.

August 3: We awaken to great views of the Canadian Rockies outside the train window. After the train arrives, well head into Jasper for lunch, fuel, fishing licenses, and last minute supplies for the trip. In the late afternoon we'll catch a van-taxi to our trailhead near Rock Lake. The trip out to Rock Lake takes a couple of hours, so we'll camp at the trailhead that night."

Screenshot of map from @myownfrontier video

The Hike

"August 4: Hike through forest and open meadow to Willow Creek on the Snake Indian River. Camp near Willow Creek.

August 5: Follow the Middle Snake Indian westward to Blue Creek. This is pleasant open country with good views of the peaks, and forests of aspen and lodgepole pine. The valley narrows as we approach Blue Creek, and we'll pass some small mountain lakes.

August 6: Layover day to swim, fish, and explore the country around Blue Creek Valley.

August 7: Hiking up into the high country, we catch great views of the big glaciers on the north face of Upright Mountain.

August 8: Cross Snake Indian Pass (6700') after a long gentle uphill over alpine tundra. Descend to a campsite along upper Twintree Creek.

August 9: Descent past Twintree Lake and then drop steeply into the valley of the Smokey River. Continue on to a campsite at the mouth of Chown Creek at the edge of a broad valley near some glaciers and high peaks.

August 10: Layover at Chown Creek. Great place for a day hike up to the surrounding glaciers.

August 11: Hike up the Smokey River to campsite just below Robson Pass. Adolphus Lake is nearby, and if the weather is clear, we'll have good views of Mt. Robson.

August 12: Cross Robson Pass (5550') and descend past Berg Lake -- full of icebergs -- and pass through the "Valley of a Thousand Falls" to Kinny Lake where we'll make our last camp just a couple of miles from the trailhead. Here the forest is especially lush, because of the surplus rain that condenses around Robson's icy bulk."


Last Night

Our last night on the trail was at Kinney Lake in a cabin. It felt weird to be back to civilization and some modern conveniences. It seems that this area is often used as base camp for climbers.

Last Day

Kinney Lake: On our exit day, we made record time. It was a wide, well-maintained trail to the trailhead on Hwy 16. Someone said there was a walk-up cart in the in the parking lot (a food truck) that had burgers and fries, a welcome change to freeze-dried camp food we'd been eating all week.

From the itinerary:

"August 13: Descend to the Robson River Trailhead, and catch a bus or van-taxi back to Jasper. In Jasper we'll have time for lunch, showers, and a brief re-adjustment to the "civilized" world before catching the evening train back to Vancouver.

August 14: Arrive in Vancouver in the early afternoon. Spend the night at the Jericho Beach Youth Hostel.

August 15: Morning free in Vancouver. After a farewell lunch we'll head over to the airport for afternoon flight home, via San Jose."


I have a memory of having to hang our food from a tree at least 200 feet away downwind from our tents. I hadn't really thought of wildlife until then.

Illustration from

The food and cooking gear was distributed among the hikers but the guides did all the cooking. 

I do recall having a Eureka! moment with my backpack. It was an external frame backpack I borrowed from a neighbor back home. For at least the first day, my shoulders were bearing the full weight of the pack and I was only using the waist belt to keep it from moving around. 

By accident while sitting down on a log, I over-tightened the belt then stood up. Now the weight of the pack was carried on my hips and the shoulder straps were now just for stability.

"A properly fitting backpack should comfortably transfer approximately 80 percent of its weight to your hips and lower body, 20 percent to the front of your shoulders, and exactly zero to the top of your shoulders."

Start: Rock Lake (upper right); End: Kinney Lake (lower left)