Ongoing flood impact at Elbow Falls in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
From the early morning meeting at the Bragg Creek shopping plaza southwest of Calgary, Alberta, a light hiking day in Kananaskis Country is planned to survey the aftermath of June 2013 flooding. The primary objective for the day is Elbow Falls. For comparison, a few archival photographs have been included. This first group of photos was taken on June 19, 2005, a few days after damaging floods decimated the popular day use area a short distance downstream from Beaver Ponds.
This next group of photographs was taken on May 12, 2008 when the profile of Elbow Falls is relatively normal with higher water levels in spring runoff.
On August 25, 2013, there are throngs of people, on this weekend day, investigating an Elbow Falls clearly altered by the June, 2013 flood. The course of the Elbow River has either destroyed or completely washed away portions of the picnic areas above Elbow Falls. The boundaries of the fall has been modified substantially and the bowl beneath the fall has been filled with boulders, reducing the waterfall height. Elbow Falls more closely resembles a cascading rapid.
Near the end of Highway 66 west of Bragg Creek, Forget-Me-Not Pond has survived relatively unscathed. This is surprising because the tiny pristine pond was badly damaged in 2005. Obviously the restoration created better defense against incursion from the adjacent Elbow River. There is some trench erosion on the river side and a few small sections of the circumference pathway have been interrupted but overall this pristine, beautiful pond has survived the onslaught. Minor repair will likely be straightforward. Forget-Me-Not Pond is a tiny, emerald gem when viewed from the top of Forget-Me-Not Mountain.
On the return drive to Bragg Creek at the end of the day, the short delay on the way in has become a very long delay. At Allen Bill Pond, the bridge over the Elbow River was destroyed in the flood. An alternate, one-way, dirt alternative detour has been constructed and recently opened to allow traffic back and forth until the main road can be prepared. Automated traffic signals control flow, 2 ½ minutes in one direction, then the same in the opposite direction. The lineup to leave is very long which allows plenty of time to look around.
Allen Bill Pond is gone. The popular recreation area was wiped out in 2005, and then restored, but this 2013 event appears even more devastating. What was once a small and beautiful recreational pond, similar to Forget-Me-Not Pond, is a field of rock with streams running through it. Allen Bill Pond was rebuilt following the 2005 flood. It is also the trail-head for the Fullerton Loop hike which now leaves from the Ranger Station across Hwy 66.
Eventually, it is our turn to complete the detour for the return to Bragg Creek and Calgary. This has been an interesting and relaxing day.
Photographs for this post were taken on June 19, 2005, May 12, 2008 and August 25, 2013.