Ribbon Creek trail repair from 2013 flood damage in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
The view downstream from the wooden platform bridge across Ribbon Creek, which links to Terrace Trail, still hosts evidence of flood debris. This small bridge has been the only way to gain access to Ribbon Falls for the better part of the past two years.
From the Ribbon Creek parking area in Kananaskis Country, the repaired Ribbon Creek trail actually reopened late in the hiking season of 2015. The damage along Ribbon Creek was devastating beyond comprehension which makes the new trail a fascinating experience as new trail weaves through flood damage and past remnants of original trail.
The beginning is similar as new trail leaves the Ribbon Creek parking area over new dirt path a bit higher on the hillside above Ribbon Creek. The trail squeezes between solid rock and flood debris near the course of original trail before tracking left past cliffs to the first new bridge.
New trail tracks a significantly modified creek presence bordered by tons of flood debris from downed trees and modified creek bed. The extent of the damage along Ribbon Creek is an awesome spectacle and particularly relevant for those who remember the creeks previous profile and presence. New trail sections border revised flow patterns along Ribbon Creek en route to the second new bridge span. Along this new route, the power and extent of 2013 flood damage becomes very apparent.
The second wood and metal footbridge is along new trail across Ribbon Creek tributaries which did not previously exist. When the original, well-established creek bed burst it's banks near June 20, 2013, massive and unprecedented volumes of water create new watercourses in every new weak link discovered or formed.
Massive volumes of flood-debris lumber and rock are strewn along through new paths and occasionally reveal short sections of the old road which served the lumber industry prior to becoming a very popular hiking, biking and cross-country ski route between Kovach (the Ribbon Creek parking area) and Ribbon Falls.
Stairs lead to a short bridge over new creek path and another bridge section over the primary and relocated watercourse.
The extent and magnitude of the flood damage is impressive. New bridges and path weave across and along the revised Ribbon Creek. There is ample evidence that floodwaters created new river path along paths which where previously occupied by the previous Ribbon Creek trail.
Old trail on the opposite side of of the new watercourse reveals a stranded memorial bench on a section of trail which no longer is part of the new main trail.
Eventually, a longer section of bridge crosses Ribbon Creek to familiar trail.
The archival trail leaves behind the section of major destruction and continues. A previous substantial bridge structure decimated by the flood has been repaired, revised and re-purposed to provide new function. The revision is well done, unexpected and creative.
Beyond the old, major 'bridge', a new hatch of butterflies provide a colorful and peaceful interlude as their kaleidoscope of motion and vivid color captivates the imagination.
There is major new construction of unknown purpose which branches away from the trail before arrival at the surviving picnic tables on a bit of higher ground which provide the opportunity to enjoy lunch in forest shade.
Original Ribbon Creek trail which was high enough above the river plain to survive relatively unscathed continues on easy ascent through forest towards the junction with Kovach Link where a new bridge will provide the opportunity for the return hike via an alternate route.
Return to the Ribbon Creek parking area is achieved via the Kovach Link to the Terrace Trail and back to the trail junction for the wooden platform bridge crossing. This hike is a pleasant loop from Ribbon Creek parking area easily achieved in either direction.
At the beginning of this hike, thoughts wandered to wondering why it had taken so long for repairs to this important trail. At the end of the hike, the thoughts drifted to what an impressive effort it had taken to complete the reconstruction of the Ribbon Creek Trail so rapidly. Truly outstanding achievement. Great appreciation to everyone who obviously worked so hard to make this happen.
The recommendation is to experience the the Ribbon Creek to Ribbon Falls trail before nature inevitably hides much of the damage done. Much thanks to The Kananaskis Trail Crews, the Friends of Kananaskis Country and all participating volunteer assistance for a great job incredibly well done in a relatively short time.
Photographs for this Ribbon Creek trail hike with Jen were captured on Monday, June 20, 2016.