All I needed to hear was the name: the Iceline Trail. Yoho National Park’s most popular trek switchbacks up the back side of the Presidential Range and then runs along the bottom of the Emerald Glacier, crossing rocky moraines and glacial creeks for miles before dropping back down into the Yoho Valley.
My dad and I set out for the Iceline trail early in the morning, pledging to turn back at the tree line if the gathering clouds looked like they might bring dangerous weather. Fortunately, lightning luck was on our side and we got no more than a sprinkle of rain all day.
Returning to the parking lot around 5 pm we were puzzled to find dozens of people lounging around, reading books in camp chairs, sleeping on picnic tables and on car hoods, playing cards and cooking food on camp stoves, all with an odd air of resignation. Then we found out why: we were trapped! Around noon a tour bus had gotten stuck on the switchbacks on the only road back to town and nobody could get off the mountain!
Bizarrely, this is the second time in my life that I’ve been trapped on a mountain by a bus. Years ago, in Ecuador, on the way down from Gua-Gua Pinchincha, our Land Cruiser rounded a muddy turn to find an abandoned bus wedged across the narrow road. Having just summited a 15,700-foot mountain, we had no choice but to relace our boots, get out of the Rover, climb over the bus (easiest climbing we’d done all day) and hike an hour in the pouring rain and the deepening dark to the next town, where we could call a cab back to Quito.
When things go wrong in the mountains, or on the drive down from the mountains, there’s not much you can do other than Deal With It and remind yourself: it can always be worse. At least in Canada, they have cranes to move stuck buses and we didn’t have to hike out. While we waited, the park rangers brought us all fruit, granola bars and water and everybody was remarkably patient and pleasant, even jovial. We all watched the crane jockey the bus out of the way – prime entertainment, let me tell you – and once it was free, just after 7 pm, we all cheered!
I think I’m in love with the Canadian Rockies! Stay tuned for lots more…