Lorette Creek Flood – Kananaskis – Hiking Alberta

The water level at Barrier Lake Reservoir in Kananaskis Country is very low to optimize capacity for spring runoff.  The reservoirs have reduced capacity due to mud, rock and timber debris washed into them during last summers flood.  The odds of a repeat event is highly unlikely but the devastation of the June 2013 flood has left an indelible impression and people are justifiably uneasy.  It is likely rivers will be allowed to run higher and longer to protect reserve.  I am absolutely confident water management agencies are paying very close attention.  Permanent solutions are well underway.

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Water levels in the Barrier Lake Reservoir are very low in preparation for spring runoff in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Spring runoff via the Kananaskis River flowing into a very low Barrier Lake Reservoir in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

At the Mount Allan Viewpoint along Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40), a short walk to the right is an excellent place to capture a photo of Mount Lorette, which will be part of my hiking objective for this day, and also a classic picture of the Nakiska Mountain Resort on Mount Allan where snow is rapidly diminishing.

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Mount Lorette from near the Mount Allan Viewpoint in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The Nakiska Mountain Resort from the Kananaskis Trail viewpoint in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Parking for the south end of Stoney Trail, at the Stoney Trail Day Use Area, is accessed by a right turn off Mount Allan Road shortly after the left turn to Ribbon Creek and before arrival at the Nakiska Mountain Resort reception area.  Stoney Trail is a straight gravel road beneath formidable power lines which tend to compromise the incredible view from wherever you happen to be.

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Stoney Trail heading north near Nakiska in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

View east to Mount McDougall from Stoney Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The final stages of flood damage cleanup near the south end of Stoney Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The final stages of flood damage cleanup near the south end of Stoney Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

After passing the Mount Allan Hydro Substation, I choose a less traveled road on a branch left which will give me a better view for photographs of the Beaver Ponds.  The alternate road is more rustic and dead ends at a small hydro branch heading left near rock cliffs.  There is a steep trail down to the main road.  My choice is an obvious and gentler off trail descent a few metres back.

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The Mount Allan Substation along Stoney Trail north towards Mount Lorette in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The less used rustic road branches left from the main trail to Mount Lorette in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

A view of Beaver Dams from a point above Stoney Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The main road passes the spectacular beaver ponds and rises over a small hill through forest to road which continues to Lorette Creek.  The Stoney Trail gate is closed shortly beyond the other side of Lorette Creek every year between April 15 and June 15 to protect Mountain Sheep.  Lorette Creek is badly damaged.  The former trail is gone. Thick evergreen tree and rock debris discourages reasonable access along either side of the creek.  Several people are here to hike to the waterfall.  I spend a few minutes testing alternate approaches near the creek.  All are defeated.

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

A short hill through forest passes the beaver dams on the route to Lorette Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek after the June 2013 Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek flood damage at shoreline is virtually impenetrable in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek flood damage at shoreline is virtually impenetrable in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

On the final approach to Lorette Creek via Stoney Trail, I passed a large aspen forest.  Not willing to give up without a fight, I retreat south on Stoney Trail about half a kilometre (0.4 miles).  Dense Aspen forest sets a canopy which discourages underbrush.  Often it is reasonable to navigate through these forests.  I set an off trail course to hike a bisecting angle from Stoney Trail to the visual point where Mount Allan’s cliff merges with the south face of Mount Lorette.  Incidentally, the top of the cliff I am aiming for is the location of the Hummingbird Plume Fire Lookout.  The off trail route beneath the Aspen canopy is straightforward.  There is a bit of deadfall to navigate but furrows fan out from my objective, perhaps from previous flooding events, and they create high spots which are easy to hike.

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Hiking through Aspen forest towards Mount Lorette in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

High spots between furrows on the off trail hike towards Lorette Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Aiming for the target where Lorette Creek passes between Mount Allan cliff and Mount Lorette in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The new leaves on the Aspen trees glow nearly a fluorescent green under sunlight.  The Aspens continue up a distant slope so I adjust my target left to reach, then track, the bottom of the slope towards my objective.  Occasionally, there are faint snippets of game trail which show no signs of recent traffic.  They aid my progress.

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Fluorescent green leaves on Aspen trees on the off trail route to Lorette in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Aiming off trail towards the objective at Lorette Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Occasional faint snippets of game trail aid progress towards Lorette Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The base of the hill takes me to the edge of Lorette Creek.  The creek is ripped up badly.  I leave my pack and make a marker at creek side for location on retreat.  The next step will be to work my way up the creek without a paddle.  Within half a kilometre I am shut down. The debris field is a tangled mess.  The real problem is that I am hiking solo.  It is frustrating to be so close and make a decision to abandon.  Very simply, the risk profile has become too high for me to accept.  If I am injured or if something falls on me, there is no one nearby to help.  Another day.  On a subsequent attempt we shall cycle Stoney Trail,  then hike through the Aspen forest and make our way into the canyon to find the waterfall, if indeed it still exists.

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek near the canyon between Mount Allan and Mount Lorette, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek flood damage in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Tangled forest along Lorette Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Both sides of the creek will be very challenging to navigate along Lorette Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The off trail and game trail return hike to Stoney Trail is straightforward given the mountain marker dead ahead.  Along the way I find a pile of bones from an old kill.

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Leaving, aim for this mountain. Hard to miss. Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Bones remaining from an old kill site on the return from Lorette Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Lorette Creek Flood, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Back at Stoney Trail and hiking south towards Nakiska in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The disappointment of failing to achieve my objective is tempered by the fact I will now have time to pursue other objectives in the area including a short hike into Troll Falls to check the impact of flood damage there.

Photographs for this Lorette Creek post were captured on June 8, 2014.

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2 Responses to Lorette Creek Flood – Kananaskis – Hiking Alberta

  1. Pingback: Ribbon Creek Flood 2 - Kananaskis - Hiking Alberta

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