Douglas Fir Spring lies below Goat Mountain in the Yamnuska Natural Area, of Bow Valley.
Goat Mountain lies between Yamnuska (Mount Laurie) and the Doorjamb Mountain, Loder Peak complex, let's call it north of the TransCanada Highway, west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Trail-head parking is about 3 KM west of the Hwy 1A / 1X intersection in the small parking area across Hwy 1A from the entrance to the Francis Cooke Regional Landfill Site.
Today's approach into the Yamnuska Natural Area is along the outside of the landfill fence towards the second intersection with Trail E. A map of the trail complex can be found on Page 125 of the Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, 4th Edition, Volume 3. There is a wealth of wilderness trail in this montane area rife with kettle and knob terrain mixed with dense forest, swamps and a large assortment of small but breathtaking, spring-fed lakes.
The objective is to link into the north branch of Trail E which passes through 'Hidden Valley' above the 'Great Moraine'.
The Trail E junction shown above is marked differently than only a few days ago. It is important to know the trail (road) on the left continues straight past an old gravel pit to many exits leading to the tops of knobs or inevitably to bolted and anchored climbing walls at the base of Goat Mountain. This straight ahead option is not shown on the old map. Exiting to the right at this junction is important. Memorize the image for your first attempt.
The trail alternatively passes through dense, predominantly evergreen forest with occasional more open areas. Barely detectable Trail F to Douglas Fir Spring veers off to the left near the end of an open area before re-entering dense forest. Two small cairns have been placed at trail-side to help identify the exit. Allow for the possibility they may be different, or not there at all, in the future.
The trail improves and is easier to follow within a short distance as gentle elevation is gained through more rocky terrain beside (to the left of) a drainage ditch which is dry today. Fairly soon the trail dips across the ditch into more open terrain and continues to climb more aggressively over and through mounds of slippery, rocky terrain which appears to be the result of an ancient rock slide.
As altitude is gained more aggressively, fabulous views over the valley expand and the trail approaches a major drainage from the V in Goat Mountain. This draw has clearly been expanded significantly by June 2013 floods. Portions of previous trail have been destroyed and replaced with new, rustic alternatives. The dwindling waterfalls emanating from the V are beautiful with soothing sound.
There are amazing views of the surrounding terrain in the valley below from the lofty perch at the face of Goat Mountain. The guide lists the trail-head at coordinate 315629 with distance of 690 m and elevation gain of 100 m to target location of 312633. Clearly, the distance and elevation have been done so odds of finding Douglas Fir Spring on the return should be high.
The descent on the slippery, steep, rocky slope proceeds carefully while careful observation is underway for side trails. Douglas Fir Spring pools may not be obvious from the main trail but, surely the massive, I mean massive, Douglas Fir trees which accompany the springs will be a dead giveaway. Views of Reed Lake, Yamnuska and shallow, green Crescent Lake are stunningly beautiful on the descent.
Several detours on shallow path, or game trails, dwindle to nothing or are blocked by dead fall exceeding the expense of reasonable effort. Incredulously, the return to the bottom transpires without locating Douglas Fire Spring. This is marginally embarrassing.
Usually, if one does not find something, they are possibly looking in the wrong place. There is a matrix of subsidiary trail and obviously, a junction or two somewhere along the route have been missed. Reality dictates it is unlikely there will be another opportunity for a second attempt this year, or perhaps ever.
These evergreen blossoms, resplendent in bright sunshine are part of the entire surroundings loaded with countless visions and odors of new growth and the magic of prolific spring flowers.
If friend and hiking partner Mélanie was here, she would be killing this. Fond memories of Perley Rock.
Photographs for this hike to find Douglas Fir Springs at the Yamnuska Natural Area in the Bow Valley west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada were captured on May 19, 2015.