Old Goat Glacier - Kananaskis Country - Hiking Alberta

 

Hiking past flood damage to Old Goat Glacier, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.

 

Old Goat Glacier, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The trail-head for Old Goat Glacier is a drive south from Canmore on the Smith-Dorrien Trail (Hwy. 742), across the bridge, past Goat Pond to a right turn over Three Sisters Dam at the north end of the Spray Lakes Reservoir in the Spray Valley Provincial Park component of Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.

A brief stop at the Canmore Nordic Centre provides a few minutes to take photos of the mountains above Canmore.

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Ha Ling Peak and Mount Lawrence Grassi from The Canmore Nordic Centre above Canmore, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The moon over Ha Ling Peak beside Mount Lawrence Grassi from the Canmore Nordic Centre above Canmore, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada An autumn mountain view from the Canmore Nordic Centre above Canmore, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The Ehagay Nakoda  Range over the south end of Grassi Lakes from the Canmore Nordic Centre above Canmore, Alberta, Canada

 

On the far side of Three Sisters Dam the West Side Trail along Spray Lakes Reservoir is closed.  Parking near the gate begins a walk that will add about 1.5 KM (1 mile) to the hike for a one-way total near 5.6 KM (3½ miles) with 643 m (2,110 ft) of elevation to a maximum elevation of 2,350 m (7,710 ft). 

This side of the Opal Range provides a dramatic view of The Three Sisters looming large over the Spray Lakes Reservoir.

At the second informal parking area to the right along West Side Trail, an informal but established trail veers south and links into the Old Goat Glacier Trail along Old Goat Creek.  There is some debris in the creek from the impact of the June floods.

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The Three Sisters over the Spray Lakes Reservoir in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Creek hosts tiny subsidiary ponds along the creek which are artistic gems begging to be photographed.  Dynamic, ever-changing art.

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A beautiful, tiny pond along Old Goat Creek is dressed with colored leaves and reflections along the trail to Old Goat Glacier in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mossy borders guard crystal clear water along Old Goat Creek in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Further along Old Goat Creek the integrity of the creek bed breaks down in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

There is no way the amount of flood damage could be imagined.  Old Goat Creek disappears under a pile of rock laced with lumber debris and, ironically, one of the original trail signs which has been swept away.

The trail is gone.  Trail ribbon markers direct off trail progress through and over thousands of tons of displaced rock mixed with shattered trees. (Since repaired)

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Old Goat Glacier Trail disappears and the marked route is over boulders and downed trees through forest in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Near photo left centre an original trail sign is part of the debris swept downstream from Old Goat Glacier in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Old Goat Mountain looms above the flood devastation. in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Rock swept downstream is littered with shattered forest on the approach to Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Breaking out of forest is onto a massive pile of broken stone near the waterfall which is typically dry this late in the season.  The original trail, which was previously several meters further downstream from the waterfall, is gone.

The power of the water flow must have been immense to move this quantity of rock into an entirely new channel.  Huge volumes of the original creek bed have been gouged away and swept through the forest.

Sticks, with red ribbon markers, provide a route off the pile of rock to the thin trail which continues on and gains aggressive elevation to the moraines carved by Old Goat Glacier.

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The base of the Old Goat Glacier waterfall in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Huge chunks of the creek bed beneath Old Goat Glacier waterfall have been washed away in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The massive force of the water went straight ahead instead of turning right as it did originally at Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The nature of the outlet from Old Goat Glacier has been changed forever in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The sketchy trail is less distinct than previous, but sufficiently obvious to maintain the steep route through talus to the lateral moraine above and providing excellent aerobic exercise well worth the time and effort.

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada View back to Big Sister as we gain elevation aggressively on the trail through talus to Old Goat Glacier in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Higher up, Spray lake Reservoir appears at the base od Big Sister on the steep trail to Old Goat Glacier in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Rough terrain past an outcropping on Old Goat Mountain on the hike to Old Goat Glacier in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The view back to Spray Lake Reservoir from near the top of the climb to the Old Goat Glacier lateral moraine in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The final steps on the approach to the Old Goat Glacier in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The steep climb portion of the trail peaks above the lateral moraine just beneath.  Trail proceeds along the top of the ridge a short way, then carefully zigzags down onto the rocky moraine. Views are surreal.  To the south, the remnant of Old Goat Glacier is a mere shadow of its former existence but still impressive.

Across the divide, a small larch and evergreen forest, on an island surrounded by shattered rock  gives scale to the immensity of the cavern.

The sheer rock walls of 3,109 m (10,200 ft) Old Goat Mountain on the far side create the awesome demarcation line between Kananaskis Country and Banff National Park on the other side.  WOW!

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The lateral moraine beneath the ridge at Old Goat Glacier in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The view towards Old Goat Glacier from the top of the lateral moraine in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Sheer rock walls rise above the other side of the valley beneath Old Goat Glacier in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The view north from the moraine towards the outlet of Old Goat Glacier in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The view south from the moraine to Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Another view south along the moraine to Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

There is a large marmot population in the surrounding talus.  The hike from the toe of the glacier returns via the same route accessed.

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The view back from the top of the ridge at Old Goat Glacier in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada View on the descent from Old Goat Glacier in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A picturesque location along Old Goat Creek on the return hike from Old Goat Glacier in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

 

Photographs for this post were taken on September 23, 2013.

 

 

 

 

Categories: 

Tags: