Sunrift Gorge is an impressive hike beside a creek flowing through colorful argillite.
This hike is suggested by a Park Ranger at Logan Pass as an alternate approach to the Siyeh Pass Trail. This hike will be pursued for a short time and distance before returning the same way on the hot and sunny day.
This approach is actually the reverse direction of the normal Siyeh Pass loop. The hot day combined with exposure to the sun discourages any intent to achieve the top of the pass this day even though it is tempting. Standing at the summit of the pass would provide an excellent view of Cracker Lake from above on the east side of the Continental Divide.
The day is forecast to be very warm and the decision has been made to avoid another long haul hike on a hot day without shelter from the sun.
The Sunrift Gorge hike proceeds above and along Baring Creek on good trail, with an occasional off-trail jaunt for better views of crystal-clear, water rushing through tight spaces carved in predominantly red rock. Glacier National Park in Montana, USA hosts significant quantities of red and green rock formed by geological compression of ancient silt.
In Canada red rock is often coarse and associated with iron rich rock exposed to air creating rust.
In Glacier National Park the colorful stone is called Grinnell Argillite. The origin of argillite began with mineral-rich silt, from ancient, recurring seas, which was compressed over millions of years when Pacific plates collided, compressing the land and creating mountain ranges. The silt was buried and compressed into mudstone.
If this process occurs in the presence of oxygen, the mudstone is red; without oxygen it is green. As the layers erode and are weathered by wind and water, the rock is polished. Argillite can have the smooth and unblemished appearance of plastic and is very vibrant and beautiful in sun and water.
The hike proceeds along the east side of the creek, around Going-To-The-Sun Mountain, gaining elevation gradually until the gorge opens into river valley. Vistas are incredible and the winding trail encourages proceeding with the hike to witness whatever amazing beauty might lie around the next corner. Eventually the opportunity to relax near a small but idyllic, cascading twin waterfall determines the turnabout location for the hike. The sight and sound of this beautiful twin waterfalls cascading through and over red rock is calming and surreal.
The color of water, flora and rock combines with the echoing sound of rushing water as a relaxing lunch in the warm morning sun while being caressed by a gentle mountain breeze. God Bless Park Rangers. This beautiful place might never have been discovered because, without her assistance, the feature would otherwise have remained unknown. The beauty is so intense, personal presence becomes one with the environment which makes it difficult to leave.