Marble Canyon is a popular experience in Kootenay National Park, BC, Canada.
There is time following the Castle Mountain Fire Lookout hike to drive south on Highway 93 into Kootenay National Park located in British Columbia, Canada. The drive crosses the Continental Divide from Alberta into British Columbia, passes the trail-head for Stanley Glacier and soon arrives at the parking area for Marble Canyon, a unique and popular year round attraction at the confluence of Tokumm Creek with the Vermilion River.
There is ample evidence of the 2003 forest fire, which burned 40 days and consumed 170 square KMs, as the hike proceeds into Prospectors Valley beginning near the surface level of Tokumm Creek. The hike ascends on well constructed steps to paved path along the top of Marble Canyon.
This short, easy, path is best done at a quiet time. Several improvements on the short system of trails and bridges offer spectacular views down into a beautiful slot canyon surrounded by spectacular wilderness features and mountains. Low link fences discourage people from approaching the dangerous, slippery edges of the canyon. In the past there have been many unfortunate incidents, some fatal. The depth of the marble walled, slot canyon increases as figure-eight trails with bridges cross back and forth from one side to the other along the length of the short but dramatic canyon.
Looking back to the beginning of the hike, from the first short bridge over Marble Canyon, provides a good view of the natural stone bridge spanning the deep, narrow canyon.
The visual experience is powerful as narrow bridges which offer views into the short, deepening canyon are complemented by the vast expanse of surrounding mountains above the canyon. The smallest angles change images dramatically. The sound of the surging water below is constantly amplified and modified by the acoustical properties of the canyon walls. The richness of the flora growing on and around the damp canyon walls offers powerful aromatic and colorful diversity. It keeps all senses at full alert and focused on the incredible surrounding beauty.
There are so many unique photographic opportunities, it is challenging to select images which might be the most representative. Every picture taken is a narrow limited view of what the moving eye can see and no photograph can do justice. There is no alternative to visiting and enjoying personal presence at this magnificent place. Height-adverse people may get a bit twitchy.
Near the other end of the short canyon, the sound of powerful water begins to rise above the sound from creek flow deep in the canyon beneath.
At the far end of the narrow canyon there is an impressive waterfall. There is no angle at the top of the twisting, turning, irregularly shaped canyon which allows full visibility of the entire waterfall at one time or place. It can be done in the winter when Tokumm Creek is frozen and the hike is along the creek through the bottom of Marble Canyon to the base of the large waterfall.
To ice climbers it is a known as Tokumm Pole, rated as an easy access 40 m, WI-5+, so not a first climb for the inexperienced or faint of heart. From the water-soaked viewing platform at the top of the fall beyond the last bridge, waterfall flow on this day is magnified by runoff from recent flooding rain. The roar of the water is deafening.
A brief diversion from the waterfall is taken to hike a short distance towards Mount Whymper and the trail junction which leads through Prospectors Valley to the late Fay Hut about 12 KM (7.5 miles) further north-west along Tokumm Creek. On this short diversion there is an encounter with a young deer foraging solo. A bonding moment occurs when, after quiet, calming conversation, a slow approach is attempted. Unusually, the deer reciprocates and a few minutes are enjoyed together at close quarters before the deer leaves to continue the day. These close encounters are always magical. Deer like me because our ears are the same size.
The June 2013 floods, as well as doing extensive damage, have taken a toll on the comfort and confidence of Calgary residents. There is a partial preoccupation with getting back to a new normal.
Today was about leaving that all behind for a few hours. Today's time hiking in the mountains completed two short and spectacular hikes, in the mountains of two different National Parks in two different Canadian Provinces. The Castle Mountain Fire Lookout is in Banff National Park in Alberta and Marble Canyon is in Kootenay National Park in British Columbia. Like any hiking day it has provided one step towards finding the new normal.
Images for this post were captured on the July 2, 2013 hike at Marble Canyon.