North Ribbon Creek – Kananaskis Country – Hiking Alberta

North Ribbon Creek provides access to Memorial Lakes in Kananaskis Country.  But, I am getting ahead of myself.  Access to North Ribbon Creek is via the popular and commonly hiked Ribbon Creek trail which was decimated by the June 13 floods.  After meeting at the Hwy 22 Petro on the TransCanada Highway, Seija and I have plans to hike in the Canmore area but, on speculation, choose to drive the short distance south on Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40) to stop in at the Barrier Lake Visitor Information Centre where we become involved in an informative conversation with Park Rangers.  The Ribbon Creek trail is complete from the Ribbon Creek parking area near Nakiska, to Ribbon Falls, but by a route different than expected.  We decide to access and check out the new Ribbon Creek link and potentially North Ribbon Creek as well.  It will become an eye-opening and interesting day.

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Yours truly on the bridge over Ribbon Creek at the Ribbon Creek parking area on the North Terrace Trail near Nakiska in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The beginning of North Terrace trail to Kananaskis Village and numerous other hikes in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Excellent trail and views on the North Terrace Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Along North Terrace Trail there are occasional mountain views from wide, excellent trail (dirt road) through primarily lush forest.  Along the route, which tracks the south ridge above Ribbon Creek, we stumble upon a trailside exhibit of ancient, moss-covered stumps which I immediately identify as an excellent subject for a bit of artistic photography.  In the process of extricating myself from a particularly awkward stance, I trip.  In the ensuing unsuccessful attempt to recover, I execute a series of vaudeville and ballet maneuvers which culminate with an undignified, hard, backpack landing into a humiliating heap on the road, accented by the ceremonial tossing of moss.  It is reminiscent of the 1982 wet root and large puddle fiasco on Grouse Mountain above VancouverBritish Columbia.  You had to be there but certainly an indelible memory for Seija (and for Bill in BC)  ;-)   The North Terrace trail initially climbs moderately then flattens to the trail junction at 1.0 KM (0.63 mile) with Kovach Link veering right.  Seija and I continue on the Kovach Link, avoiding all trail options to the left, until 2.0 additional KM (1.25 miles) later, we take the short, curving downhill to the nearly-completed but fully functional bridge over Ribbon Creek.  A short ascent past the bridge leads to the T junction at the Ribbon Creek trail.

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An artistic photo of trailside, moss-covered, old stumps on the new link to Ribbon Creek trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Beautiful trail on the Kovach Link to the Ribbon Creek trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The short descent on Kovach Link to the bridge crossing over Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The nearly completed bridge on Kovach Link over Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Views from the bridge over Ribbon Creek illustrate the extent of damage inflicted by the June 2013 flood event.  At the trail junction with the Ribbon Creek trail we hike left, past the face on the stump, onto new trail.

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The view downstream from the Kovach Link bridge at Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The view upstream of flood damage on Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The trail junction of Kovach Link with Ribbon Creek trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The beginning of the new Ribbon Creek trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Chainsaw art on a trailhead stump on the new section of Ribbon Creek trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The new Ribbon Creek trail section is excellent quality constructed higher on the slope above the old trail.  In one location we are able to hike off trail, down to the previous riverside trail, to observe how Ribbon Creek has washed away the banks and interrupted the old trail.  The extent of the damage caused by powerful water is sobering.  Old trail sections have been covered with debris to discourage accidents on interrupted and compromised trail and to promote new growth.  The new trail is impressive and intelligently crafted.  Accolades are due to the hard work performed by Alberta Parks trail crews and Friends of Kananaskis Country .  Well done!

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Off trail down slope to the old trail along Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Old trail interruption along Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Old trail covered with debris for discouraging dangerous use and promotion of forest reclamation along Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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An example of the new and excellent trail higher on the slope above Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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New and impressive trail higher above and along Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Small sawn log benches have been placed along the new route.  Occasional views through forest openings reveal Mount Allan to the right and the tight valley between Mount Kidd and Mount Bogart ahead.  Seija and I pass the trailhead to Memorial Lakes and continue past the new bridge at the confluence of North Ribbon Creek with Ribbon Creek.  The view of flood damage here is surreal.  The meadow which once hosted the Eau Claire logging camp between the late 1800’s and the 1930’s has been torn apart.  Major portions of the meadow including old artifacts and the interpretive plaque have been swept away.  It is difficult to fathom the terrain change.  This will be our end point on the Ribbon Creek trail this day in favor of returning east to the trailhead along North Ribbon Creek which leads to Memorial Lakes.

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Sawn Log benches have been placed along new Ribbon Creek trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The new bridge over North Ribbon Creek at Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The confluence of North Ribbon Creek with Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The site of the old logging camp interpretive site along Ribbon Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Major flood devastation at the confluence of North Ribbon Creek with Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

There are reports on Alberta Parks Online Comments which indicate hikers are getting to Memorial Lakes.  This location is near and dear to me so it is important for me to know the condition of the trail.  Initially trail is flat, clear, and pleasant.  At convergence alongside North Ribbon Creek, the trail, as before, becomes more rustic and climbs through forest on trail with many roots, above the creek bed which has sustained substantial flood damage.  There are several sketchy spots on this unofficial trail which require above average hiking experience for safety.  Our minimum target is the first exposure.  It is a steep ledge with narrow passage which requires cautious and experienced footsteps in proper footwear.  The first part of the ledge is marginal.  The second part of the ledge has been obliterated by a landslide.  Crossing is possible with the right gear and caution but exposure is significant.  This trail is not suitable for  inexperienced hikers including children, solo hikers and people with marginalized balance or reaction time.  The hike can be accomplished by experienced and properly equipped backcountry hikers and scramblers with significant route finding experience.  The last thing Alberta Parks needs is additional rescue missions.  This is my opinion.

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The trailhead for Memorial Lakes Trail along North Ribbon Creek at Ribbon Creek Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The beginning of the North Ribbon Creek trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The confluence of North Ribbon Creek with North Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Beginning the climb on rustic trail with tree roots on the Memorial Lakes trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The first ledge is safe to cross with experience and care on the North Ribbon Creek trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The section ledge has been eliminated by a landslide on the North Ribbon Creek trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Exposure at the landslide along the North Ribbon Creek trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Another day, in early summer of 2015, I am committed to completing the hike to Memorial Lakes.  I will keep my promise, for relatives of those honored on the third lake cairn, and report results of the entire trail at that time.  For today, Seija and I will return to the Ribbon Creek trail to hike east past the Kovach Link trail junction for exploration of the section of the Ribbon Creek trail which remains closed.  We stop at one of the benches to enjoy lunch in the forest at trailside with the sun on our backs and pleasant conversations with other hikers along the trail.

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Retreating to the Ribbon Creek trail on the Memorial Lakes trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Back at the Ribbon Creek trailhead to Memorial Lakes Trail along Ribbon Creek trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The bench on the new Ribbon Creek trail where Seija and I enjoy our lunch in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Back at the junction of the Ribbon Creek trail with the Kovach Link trail, Seija and I continue straight to experience the remainder of the trail.  Initially there are signs of flood damage along the river but the road is in relatively good shape.  As we make the minor and gradual descent, the road gradually deteriorates with escalating erosion.  Evidence of flood damage increases exponentially.  We reach a point where the trail has been breached by flood water.  A short distance further the picnic benches remain unscathed in defiance of surrounding terrain.  This small measure of hope is dashed by the Ribbon Creek trail ending at the flood-revised path of Ribbon Creek.

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The beginning of the east portion of Ribbon Creek trail at the Kovach Link trail junction in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Ribbon Creek is torn up badly beside Ribbon Creek trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The road gradually deteriorates beside Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Escalating flood damage along Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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A Ribbon Creek washout compromises the road in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The Ribbon Creek trail picnic benches stand firm on higher ground in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The Ribbon Creek trail ends here along the east section of Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Where the road ends, a fairly good trail continues beside the flood altered and ravaged Ribbon Creek.  The trail continues for a short distance until, it too, ends at the faster than expected water flow in Ribbon Creek.  Several log jams occur along this setion of Ribbon Creek.  We are regularly off trail to creek side searching for potential creek crossings and alternative path to hike on the far side of Ribbon Creek.  It is Seija who discovers the flood-ravaged bridge.  There were two bridges along this section of trail and we believe this may be the second one beyond the parking area.  The force of flood water and debris have been sufficient to dislodge the massive concrete moorings.  Further investigation on the bridge deck shows the heavy deck has been warped by the force applied.  Incredible We continue on sketchy trail to the conclusion.  The real Ribbon Creek trail is actually on the other side of the creek now but the flow alteration is so profound we have no way of knowing what we will need to deal with on the final short section to the Ribbon Creek parking area.  Following a couple of attempted and unsuccessful bushwhacks, our decision is to return on the Ribbon Creek trail to the Kovach Link trail junction for the hike back via the route taken in.

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One of many log jams along Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The other side of the log jam from an upstream view on Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Short sections of decent trail continue alongside Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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One of two bridges across Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Yours truly on the flood-damaged bridge deck along Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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This bridge deck along Ribbon Creek has been warped by the force of the flood water and debris in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Sketchy trail continues a bit further until disappearing into Ribbon Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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A pretty view at trail’s end Ribbon Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The hike back to the Ribbon Creek parking area is very pleasant in the dwindling warmth of later afternoon sun.  I avoid artistic photography.

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Back at the junction of Kovach Link trail and Ribbon Creek trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The short ascent from Ribbon Creek on the Kovach Link trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Mountain views on the return trail to the Ribbon Creek parking area in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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A later afternoon view of Mount Allan from the North Terrace trail at the Ribbon Creek parking area in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Mountain view from the Ribbon Creek parking area in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Our hike on this fine Autumn day has been portions of trail in the Ribbon Creek area.  The drive north on Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40) takes us past Mount Lorette Ponds and the always amazing mountain scenery through Kananaskis Valley on another memorable and excellent hiking day.

I do not know if the first 2.2 kilometres (1.4 miles) of the Ribbon Creek trail between the parking area and the Kovach Link trail junction will be restored.  I expect it will not.  The flood damage is extensive and the North Terrace/Kovach Link route is a viable permanent alternative so other interrupted trails can be addressed.  Many will lament the loss of this trail along the creek but nature can make powerful and permanent changes.  I believe the trail planners and crews have been wise to recreate the trail higher above the original to reduce exposure to another flooding event.  The same approach was used on the Jewell Pass trail.  It just makes sense.  This new trail is a gem.  Get out there and stay safe.

Photos for this hike along Ribbon Creek and North Ribbon Creek were taken on Sunday, October 19, 2014 in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Posted in Kananaskis Country | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ha Ling Peak – Canmore – Hiking Alberta

Ha Ling Peak guards the east side of Whiteman’s Gap in the Bow Valley above Canmore west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  This short hike is only 3.0 KM (1.9 miles) one-way from the parking area to the summit, but an elevation gain of 737 m (2,417 ft.) signals a relentless ascent to a maximum elevation of 2,407 m (7,897 ft.).  Trailhead parking is at the Goat Creek Day Use Area just south of Whiteman’s Pond wedged between Ha Ling Peak and the east end of Mount Rundle (EEOR).  The other trail leaving from the Goat Creek Day Use Area travels west along Goat Creek between the Goat Range and Mount Rundle, to terminate at the Banff Springs Hotel.  It is an excellent full day hike, or a half day bicycle ride but it is not the trail to Ha Ling Peak.  That trailhead is the brief walk to the opposite side of the Smith-Dorrien Trail, up the bank onto the service road, over the canal and past the dam on the concrete bridge, to the trailhead with the small brass plaque on a large boulder near the obvious power poles.

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Across Smith-Dorrien Trail, up the bank or road to the Ha Ling Peak trailhead above Canmore in Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Cross the concrete bridge over the canal near the dam to the Ha Ling Peak trailhead above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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The trailhead to Ha Ling Peak is clearly near the power poles past the dam above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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The Ha Ling Peak trailhead plaque above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

The initial section of trail is very broad and saturated with roots.  The weather forecast is favorable but my hike begins in a very light rain.  Initial trail climbs consistently, with occasional braided sections, to merge with the north side above a drainage.  After a series of short switchbacks a brief span of log steps leads to a long switchback left.  Sections of trail which traverse rock slab have been improved with gravel alternatives.  The climb is constant with occasional views down to support the rapid and consistent gain in elevation.  There are interesting trail features to distract from the climb.  During two additional long switchbacks, light rain turns to light snow.  The sound of high wind at treetops translates to occasional and gentle breeze at trail level.

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Wide, root-laden trail at the beginning of the hike to Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Trail at the beginning leads to a hike beside a drainage from Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Gravel path eases passage past rock slabs on the trail to Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Good trail is frequently interrupted with obstacles on the hike to Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

There are many interesting trail features to be discovered.  The snow is falling more heavily and beginning to stick on wet ground as temperature continues to decline.  The cool air is actually refreshing and counters body heat generated by the effort of the ascent.

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Trail leads to steps for a fortified crossing past a significant slab section which would otherwise be difficult and dangerous to negotiate on the trail to Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Crossing a large rock slab section on the trail to Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Interesting trail features and thinning forest on the ascent of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Interesting trail features along the hike to the summit of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

Further elevation gain continues on a short section of rugged, inconsistent and disorganized trail to more civilized and fairly consistent elevation gain with many informal trail options to the left which will lead directly over scree surface to the summit of Ha Ling Peak.  My choose to continue on the trail aiming towards the saddle between Ha Ling Peak and Miner’s Peak with Three Humps nearby.  In many past occasions on this hike, I have always abandoned the formal trail to hike directly up to the summit, so this final section of trail to the saddle is new to me.  When I break the tree line and enter alpine territory, the snow volume is increasing and being driven by high wind.  Snow is beginning to accumulate on the ground.

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The summit of Miner’s Peak above the trees and Three Humps east of  Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Wind driven snow with a view to Miner’s Peak and Three Humps to the saddle near Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Climbing to the saddle on the hike to Ha Ling Peak in the distance above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

The final portion of the hike is accurately described as an easy scramble but with careful route finding through sections of slab and scree, crags consistently offer safe footsteps to create a hiking experience.  As the summit of Ha Ling Peak gets closer, I aim for the signs which warn of climbers ascending the face of Ha Ling Peak on the other side of the summit ridgeline.  It is highly unlikely there will be anyone rock climbing in these conditions on this weekday following Thanksgiving.

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The ascent through scree and past slab to the saddle and ridgeline on the way to Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Finding safe passage above wet slab rock in driving snow on the ascent towards Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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The view to Quarry Lake and Canmore beneath the ridge line on the route to Ha Ling Peak summit above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Closing in on the summit of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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The final approach to the summit of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Anchors for rock climbers near the summit of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

Views over Canmore are nearly obliterated and there is no visible evidence of Mount Lady Macdonald or Grotto Mountain on the other side of the Bow Valley CorridorQuarry Lake and Rundle Canal are visible directly below and the new Cougar Creek aqueduct is marginally visible on the other side of the valley.  Falling snow is blowing horizontal but photo exposure speed is sufficient to make the snow appear stationary.  As I begin my careful and exciting retreat from Ha Ling Peak on wet and slippery rock, there are dramatic views of Miner’s Peak and Three Humps becoming larger on the scree trail descent back to the saddle.

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Snow compromised view from the summit of Ha Ling Peak down to Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Snow compromised view from the summit of Ha Ling Peak down to Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Snow compromised view from the summit of Ha Ling Peak down to Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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The view east from near the summit of Ha Ling Peak towards Miner’s Peak and Three Humps above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Descending from the summit of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada.  Miner’s Peak and Three Humps are in the background.

The dramatic visuals are compromised by driving snow and wet rock which add an element of adventure as I carefully work my way down along the ridge line.

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Hiking the ridgeline towards the saddle connecting Ha Ling Peak to Miner’s Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Driving snow on the descent from Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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A good look at Miner’s Peak and Three Humps from the ridgeline near Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Approaching the saddle between Ha Ling Peak and Miner’s Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada.  Note the single uppermost evergreen tree in the distance near photo right.

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The single evergreen tree at the trail junction to Miner’s Peak at the saddle between Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

At the trail junction beneath the saddle, every fibre of my being needs to continue the hike at high elevation to Miner’s Peak and beyond to Three Humps.  After standing in the blowing snow for several minutes to consider all the variables, including increasing wind speed, falling ceilings and increasing snow ground cover, I convince myself that solo hiking the exposure is potentially a bad decision and I reluctantly continue the descent to the main trail.  My inner child is disappointed but my adult is looking forward to a return to Miner’s Peak and Three Humps another day under more favorable conditions.  There are excellent views of Goat Creek in the valley beneath me and, on descent, snow reverts to light rain.  Footsteps on wet trail must be cautious.  The main hazards are wet roots and rocks polished from millions of prior footsteps on this perennially popular trail.  Rain is not reaching the lower levels of the trail and pooling water is a small issue justifying proper footwear and careful navigation.  The pungent, musty odor of wet, misty forest is wonderful and energizing.

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The cloud ceiling descends with me on the descent to the parking area from Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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View to the valley floor on the descent from Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Forest features and descent perspective on the trail from Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Back to trail along the drainage from Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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Lush, misty and intensely aromatic forest near the end of the descent from Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

Back at the trailhead, cloud cover is clearly descending and disordered as mist rolls down mountain sides to fill valleys.  On the return drive home, I stop into the parking area at Quarry Lake to photograph cloud cover over Miner’s Peak and Ha Ling Peak from beneath.  It is interesting to observe from below how weather conditions have changed at the summit of Ha Ling Peak in less than two hours.  Such is the way of the mountains.  It is always important to be prepared for nearly anything.

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Back at the trailhead where the canal meets the bridge and dam at the bottom of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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The dam from the bridge at the bottom of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada.  The canal flows through a tunnel which feeds Whiteman’s Pond.

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A bit of Autumn color near the Goat Creek Day Use Area at the base of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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The Goat Creek Day Use Area across Smith-Dorrien Trail at the base of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

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View of the face of Miner’s Peak and Ha Ling Peak from Quarry Lake above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

These questionable and different-than-forecasted weather days create special memories.  The experience is reminiscent of my early days in Basic Training with the Canadian Military at Vimy Barracks in Kingston, Ontario.  We were placed in a variety of challenging situations and trained to survive.  Much like a concentrated version of life.  Nature is like that in a slow motion version.  The ability to rise above adversity and enjoy the challenge is a powerful and satisfying experience.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  Confidence increases as knowledge, and the interpretation of the unexpected, is expanded and managed.  Hiking a specific mission becomes exponentially more satisfying. Comfort zone expands with experience and physical presence adjusts automatically to changes in environment.

Recently, DSD published a post on her blog which describes the transition.  You can view her post at Summit Stones and Adventure Musings, She knew it was me.  I can relate to her description perfectly.  It is an incredible experience I would recommend to anyone so inclined.

Photographs for this short, steep hike to the summit of Ha Ling Peak were taken on a blustery day at altitude above Canmore, Alberta on October 14, 2014.

Posted in Bow Valley Corridor, Canmore | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cobble Flats – Kananaskis Country – Hiking Alberta

Cobble Flats lies along the Elbow River near the end of Hwy 66 in the shadow of Forget-Me-Not Mountain.  In prior years, Cobble Flats offered an excellent opportunity to enjoy a picnic or barbeque beside a picturesque canal hosting a footbridge, with side rails to lean on, for enjoyment of the calm flow of quiet, reflective water in the canal.  The bridge led to quiet forest strolls along a matrix of good trail on the far side of the canal.  For me, this special place holds indelible memories of conversations and camaraderie within interrupted but prevailing friendship.  When Grandson, Michael, and I arrive, it is immediately obvious, and not surprising, the June 2013 floods have created havoc here.  The bridge is gone.  The canal is wider with faster running water, even this late in the season.  Much of the dense, surrounding shrubbery has been swept away.  Many mature trees are still collapsing into unstable ground.  Some of the pathways have survived with significant modification.  Many are gone, washed away forever.  Michael and I will hike on and off trail to survey damage at rivers edge in the immediate vicinity of the two adjacent parking areas.

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The original location of the small bridge over a narrower canal at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Ground and plant life at Cobble Flats has been swept away in the June 13 floods in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

As Mike and I hike our way on rustic trail, or through brush beside the widened canal, the dislodged bridge appears to be jammed in place downstream.

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What remains of the badly damaged canal footbridge seems to jammed downstream at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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What remains of the badly damaged canal footbridge seems to jammed downstream at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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A closer view of what remains of the badly damaged canal footbridge which seems to jammed downstream at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

We are able to get fairly close to the damaged footbridge but final access is denied by fast running inflow, or ancillary tributaries, near the damaged and relocated footbridge.  Mike and I continue exploring the edge of the Elbow River.  Surrounding terrain is badly scrambled.  Bedrock at river edge has been exposed where all ground cover has been washed away.  The Elbow River has a number of revised channels and the much larger rocky apron is littered with dead trees and miscellaneous lumber.  Isolated ponds of crystal-clear, still water are nearly artistic pieces with shadow and reflection making the surface come alive.

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The damaged footbridge is directly across from this position past fast running water at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Mike and I are unable to conveniently reach the damaged bridge at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Some of the crystal-clear ponds host reflective shadow and are like art works at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Large tracts of shoreline have been washed away, exposing bedrock at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Flood debris litters the shoreline at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The views east along the Elbow River show the vast amount of land which has been swept away

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Still, clear water, reflective ponds isolated from the Elbow River shoreline at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The view east along large rocky borders of Elbow River at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The view further east along Elbow River is cluttered with dead trees swept away by flood at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

On the return hike to the parking area, there are numerous examples of survival and regrowth.  Many newly-formed channels of Elbow River provide a matrix of water paths as foreground with Forget-Me-Not Mountain looming behind.  Some earth, hosting a bush, remains stubbornly attached to a large boulder stranded in the river after the flood swept all the surroundings away.  I join Mike and skip a few stones across the water in Elbow River.  As the sun settles low in the south-west sky, Forget-Me-Not Mountain establishes a prominent presence on the horizon.

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A bush struggles to survive on a large, stranded boulder in the Elbow River at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Forget-Me-Not Mountain looms large behind the new channels of the Elbow River at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Michael skips flat stones on the Elbow River at Cobble Flats with Forget-Me-Not Mountain behind in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Low sun reflecting off the Elbow River with Forget-Me-Not Mountain behind at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Mike and I stop in at Bragg Creek on the drive home for customary ice cream at Frontier Candy and Ice Cream.  The grand-weather, weekend day combined with motorcycles, a Show and Shine and flood reconstruction has turned the parking lot into a crowded mess.  When we finally get parked, Mike and I discover a long line of customers waiting for ice cream, so we concede defeat and drive the rest of the way for ice cream in Calgary to end our day of adventure.  We need to do this more often.

Photographs for this post on June 2013 flood damage at Cobble Flats were taken on October 5, 2014 in Kananaskis Country west of Bragg Creek, Alberta, Canada.

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