Wasootch Beaver Dams on old Kananaskis Road in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
Wasootch Ridge overlooks unnamed outlier peaks of sprawling Mount McDougall in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
There is a gravel road heading south on the west end of the McDougall outliers which has captured attention from the top of Wasootch Ridge because along its length there appears to be small lakes or ponds. These will need to be investigated.
The gravel road is a remnant of the original Kananaskis Road before the current Kananaskis Trail was constructed.
From Wasootch Creek, the climb up the bank to the road is straightforward.
This unplanned hike begins just past the grizzly bear poop at the sharp right turn where the gravel road heads south. Soon, an old, small gravel pit appears on the left which is overgrown and obviously has not been used in many years.
To the right, a small creek runs towards Wasootch Creek through a heavily forested shallow valley. This may be the outflow from the ponds further south.
Further down the road, which is very gradually gaining elevation the hike passes a dry pond and encounters clear evidence of old beaver dams. There are old tapered tree stumps remaining from beavers harvesting lumber for their dams. The cutting is old and there are no signs of recent activity.
Behind the beaver dam is a beautiful, shallow pond with a mountain backdrop. The color and bottom detail, clearly visible through crystal-clear water, is overwhelmingly beautiful. In the presence of warm sun and a cool, gentle breeze, it is nirvana.
The peace of this place is palpable. At the end of the first active pond is another large and sophisticated beaver dam.
The second pond is larger and deeper, contained by an old, long-established beaver dam that stretches an estimated 75 m (82 yards) across. The narrow view of the camera cannot do the vision justice.
The bottom views defy the water's depth. The detail is incredible. Breathtaking and so peaceful.
The only sound is light breeze through trees accompanied by the songs of birds. The volume of sound undoubtedly increases substantially at night when a whole new group of nocturnal creatures take command.
The gravel road continues past the second beaver pond. The feet, which are feeling the impact of earlier hiking on Wasootch Ridge and the rocky surface of Wasootch Creek, want to return but there is a right turn a short distance further along the road and curiosity needs to know what is around that corner.
The brilliant spring color of large aspen colonies on the right lead to a well-framed, commanding view of Nakiska Mountain Resort on the east flank of Mount Allan. The road now dips and swings to the left.
The decision to turn about is driven by lack of enthusiasm for creating the climb on the return. Another day, the far end of the road will be discovered.
Hiking back to Wasootch Creek, there is the privilege to revisit the beaver ponds from the opposite direction.
There are meadows beside the road that have been created by the beaver colonies harvesting timber to construct their impressive dams. The view of the opposite direction is always fresh.
The breeze has increased marginally and created artistic ripple patterns on the water's surface. Getting close to the dams at water level allows for more detailed photographs of the well-engineered structures.
After final views of the large ponds, the hike continues along the gentle descent past the dry pond. There is little water here but a robin calls to attract attention. Sun-bleached wooden stumps create sculptures on the surface of swampy landscape.
Previously, there was a third beaver pond here which has been breached, naturally or otherwise, and now hosts a small quantity of reasonably still water.
There is a trap at the end of it so this whole area may be used as a valuable Alberta Parks research facility. There are excellent views of the Nakiska Ski Resort on Mount Allan from this location.
After another diverse and magnificent day in the mountains, all that remains is the return drive to Calgary.
There is one photograph which, in hindsight, regretfully was not taken. Along the road, off to the side, there are evenly spaced metal poles with metal, orange cylinders attached to the top. These are markers for an underground cable.
One of these poles has been bent over at the base, almost parallel to the ground. Vandalism?
Perhaps, but there is the more likely possibility a large, heavy bear sized up this pole as an ideal scratching post and the pole gave way under the weight, leaving the poor bear to tumble ungraciously into the adjacent ditch. The mental image provided a smile.
Photos for this tour of beaver dams near Wasootch were taken on June 2, 2014.