On our return drive from Emerald Lake, we park at the popular and scenic Natural Bridge Exhibit tourist attraction. This place of fast running, glacial silt laden, white water is a sensual experience where, in this section of the Kicking Horse River, the river flow is churning through, and gradually dissolving, limestone formations to establish new river bed. Sunny skies, enjoyed earlier on the short, easy hike to Hamilton Falls, are becoming moody, fickle and overcast which adds to the overall ambience of the visit.
The parking area is busy with cars and tour buses but wandering onto nearby trail or crossing the concrete bridge over Kicking Horse River reveals a litany of visual and audible delights. The viewing platforms and water-weathered rock provide stable and safe locations to enjoy and capture the roaring white water against stone.
From the parking area, there is an obvious bridge over troubled water which crosses the Kicking Horse River to a viewing platform on the far side. The rightmost position on the viewing platform provides the best view of the Natural Bridge. Bill and Joanne take the bridge route while I choose to wander on the near side of the river, drawn by the opportunity to experience close proximity to the frothing, white water.
My son, Bill, is responsible for most of the spectacular images in this post. From the viewing platform on the far side of the Kicking Horse River, he captures images of me photographing the rock formations interrupting the powerful forces of powerful, white water.
The powerful sound of pounding water is simultaneously overwhelming and peaceful. The audible and visual power of the water, churning through rock, consumes attention and blocks distraction. Gentle breeze occasionally wafts fine mist onto skin and the creation of mood-enhancing negative ionization is palpable.
The two photographs following are captured by me from the edge of the foaming, glacial silt laden water of the Kicking Horse River at Natural Bridge Exhibit.
Our stop at Natural Bridge Exhibit consumes less than an hour. It is well spent. Although there are no pictures included, the parking area of Natural Bridge Exhibit includes an interpretive display documenting Canada’s First National Interment Operations during World War I (1914 to 1920) where newly arrived and suspect immigrants to Canada were incarcerated when Canada entered the war against Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. More than 8,000 prisoners were held in a dozen camps across Canada. One of these camps was located near the Natural Bridge Exhibit at the junction of Otter Creek with the Kicking Horse River. Prisoners were utilized to perform manual labour for the development of tourist facility in our National Parks complex. There is evidence prisoners may have been treated poorly which fostered rebellion and attempts to escape. Although the Otter Creek Camp was abandoned in 1916 for concern about flooding, some roads in Yoho National Park remain as reminders of this difficult and compromising time in Canadian history. Was the operation humane and justifiable? Were people who had been recruited as potential Canadian citizens treated fairly? I do not know. Our country went through the same process again in the Second World War. I give the Parks Service credit for acknowledging the difficult times and circumstances. I hope people were not treated unjustly and recommend reading the sobering interpretive plaques which briefly document, in three languages, this potential period of risk and potential social injustice.
There is still time left in the late afternoon for a walking tour of nearby Field, British Columbia before we return to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort above Golden for a good overnight rest in preparation for tomorrow’s significant hike on Abbott Ridge in Glacier National Park at Rogers Pass in British Columbia.