Allen Bill Pond in Kananaskis Country, Alberta.
As winter begins to release its long, tight grip on Southern Alberta, there is a treasured opportunity to enjoy Easter Monday with family. The quickest way to the mountains is the drive west on Hwy 66 from south Calgary into Elbow Valley in Kananaskis Country to the winter gate at Elbow Falls. The gate opens each year on May 15.
The picnic lunch is thoroughly enjoyable in the sun beside fast, white water flowing in the altered flood plain created by the significant flood event of June 2013. A short, easy hike in sunlight tempered by a cool, gentle breeze provides the opportunity to examine the substantially altered profile of Elbow Falls.
Following a short hike on the Prairie Mountain trail just inside the Elbow Falls winter gate, the return hike east explores the flood devastation at Allen Bill Pond. The pond is gone, completely devastated by the June 2013 flood. The parking area, replaced after the 2005 flood remains relatively intact but the pond is now a field of boulders with streams running through it. Walkways and picnic grounds have been washed away and one span of the bridge over the Elbow River collapsed.
There is endless supply of stones which can be skipped on the waters surface. Navigating the muddy restoration site to examine the state of the bridge over the Elbow River reveals the collapsed bridge span has been replaced and one alternating lane of traffic over the bridge has replaced the temporary gravel detour of one-way alternating traffic around the bridge. The foot trail beneath the bridge appears to be sufficiently restored to provide the original link to the Fullerton Loop hiking trail. Shorelines have been fortified and partially restored.
On the muddy walk back along the Elbow River shoreline to the main area of Allen Bill Pond, the extent of flood devastation is obvious. Sections of pathway disappear into open space. Picnic tables and memorial park benches are scattered in debris fields created by raging water in June 2013. Contrary to 2005, the outhouse at the east end cul-de-sac stood firm in the 2013 flood. Small victories deserve recognition.
Repairs to the bridge over the Elbow River at Allen Bill Pond in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada. Notice the new support structure by a different color. The original support was destroyed by flood water and debris.
Allen Bill Pond is iconic within the Elbow Valley area of Kananaskis Country. It remains to be seen if the pond will be restored to original, if not better, condition as it was after the 2005 flood. The damage is so severe there may be a possibility the area will remain wild. There is no doubt a great deal of thought and planning is being applied to reduce the destructive exposure of flood conditions along the Elbow River.
Photographs for this post were taken on April 21, 2014.