Backpacking Twin Lakes

This past July we were invited on our first backcountry camping trip along the Twin Lakes trail, which is 16km round-trip and located in Banff National Park. The trail can be completed as a day hike, but most split it over two days with a night at the Twin Lakes backcountry campground. 

We embarked on the trail with two good friends and (like any rookie backcountry campers would) brought along a four-litre bag of wine. One might think this was not such a smart endeavour, however, later that night we learned wine is excellent 'camping' currency when your cooking equipment malfunctions. Unfortunately for our friend carrying the wine, 90% of the way to Upper Twin Lake was, you guessed it, a very steep incline.

Initially, the trail dazzles hikers as it hovers over shimmering Vista Lake and descends to the valley floor. A small wooden bridge crossing Vista's outlet stream began the steep climb up to the lakes. The ascent continued and continued, and just when we thought we were near the top, it continued again. Our spirits were lifted when we reached a gorgeous vantage point looking across the valley into neighbouring British Columbia. As we pushed onwards, the gradient eased and eventually we were welcomed with the sight of charming Arnica Lake. We happily threw our packs down for lunch, and yes, we cracked open that bag of wine.

Twin Lakes Viewpoint
Twin Lakes Viewpoint

The trail leaving Arnica Lake felt all too familiar as it led us up another steep gradient. After 30 minutes we reached the crest of the trail obtaining views of Gibbon Pass in the distance. We were relieved by the descent down to Upper Twin Lake where we ecstatically unloaded our camping gear taking 90% of the weight off our backs.

Upper Twin Lake
Upper Twin Lake

With several hours of daylight left, we gleefully continued down the trail passing alpine flower meadows and ending at Lower Twin Lake. Even more gorgeous than its higher elevation sibling, the lake welcomed us with sparkling jade and emerald shades of green. Its beauty was enticing enough to attempt to outlast one another holding our feet in the ice-cold water. Not surprisingly, the contest lasted not more than a few minutes. This excitement had us determined to up the ante and find a rock that we could use to launch ourselves into the lake. The stakes were raised, and a few of us had to cash in our chips.

Lower Twin Lake
Lower Twin Lake
 

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