Cobble Flats border the Elbow River near the end of Hwy 66 in the shadow of Forget-Me-Not Mountain.
In prior years, Cobble Flats offered an excellent opportunity to enjoy a picnic or barbecue beside a picturesque canal hosting a footbridge, with side rails to lean on, for enjoyment of the calm flow of quiet, reflective water in the canal. The bridge led to quiet forest strolls along a matrix of good trail on the far side of the canal. This special place holds indelible personal memories of conversations and camaraderie within interrupted but prevailing friendship.
The bridge at Cobble Flats in 2008
Following the drive west from the Diamond T Loop hike at Stations Flats, arrival at Cobble Flats makes it immediately obvious and not surprising that June 2013 floods have created havoc here. The bridge is gone. The canal is wider with faster running water, even this late in the season. Much of the dense, surrounding shrubbery has been swept away. Many mature trees are still collapsing into unstable ground. Some of the pathways have survived with significant modification. Many are gone, washed away forever. This hike proceeds on and off trail to survey damage at rivers edge in the immediate vicinity of the two adjacent parking areas.
Hiking way on rustic trail leads through brush beside the widened canal, the dislodged bridge appears to be jammed in place downstream.
Final access to the damaged footbridge is denied by fast running inflow, or ancillary tributaries, near the damaged and relocated footbridge. The hike continues exploring the edge of the Elbow River. Surrounding terrain is badly scrambled. Bedrock at river edge has been exposed where all ground cover has been washed away. The Elbow River has a number of revised channels and the much larger rocky apron is littered with dead trees and miscellaneous lumber. Isolated ponds of crystal-clear, still water are nearly artistic pieces with shadow and reflection making the surface come alive.
The views east along the Elbow River show the vast amount of land which has been swept away.
On the return hike to the parking area, there are numerous examples of survival and regrowth. Many newly-formed channels of Elbow River provide a matrix of water paths as foreground with Forget-Me-Not Mountain looming behind. Some earth hosting a bush remains stubbornly attached to a large boulder stranded in the river after the flood swept all the surroundings away. We skip a few stones across the water in Elbow River. As the sun settles low in the south-west sky, Forget-Me-Not Mountain establishes a prominent presence on the horizon.
The traditional stop at Bragg Creek on the drive home acquires the customary ice cream cones at Frontier Candy and Ice Cream. The grand-weather, weekend day combined with motorcycles, a Show and Shine and flood reconstruction has turned the parking lot into a crowded mess.
Photographs for this post on June 2013 flood damage at Cobble Flats were taken on October 5, 2014 in Kananaskis Country west of Bragg Creek, Alberta, Canada.