Substantial evidence exists to support the imminent availability of a new cross-country ski route at Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country.
Ribbon Creek was decimated by historic June 2013 flooding. The old logging road component between Ribbon Creek Day Use and the 2.2 KM (1⅜ mile) junction with Kovach Link was destroyed beyond reasonable recovery. A new and challenging cross country ski route has been established from the Ribbon Creek parking area using Hidden Trail, and the left branch to Coal Mine Scar, to interface with a new route establishing connection on the west to Kovach Link and Terrace Trail at the parking area for access to the Kananaskis Village groomed ski complex.
On this day, visiting New Brunswick hiking partner Mélanie and I will take the opportunity to survey flood reconstruction along Ribbon Creek and explore the new alternative Cross Country Ski route.
The hiking trail departs from the west end of the Ribbon Creek parking area to the right of and near the platform bridge crossing over Ribbon Creek providing access to Terrace Trail and the complex beyond. New Ribbon Creek trail proceeds higher on the bank and passes evidence of new creek channels and lumber debris created by the major flood event.
Newly constructed path within a radically revised landscape employs a series of new, narrow bridges to create a revised path through and across the flood plain. The palpable damage is difficult to fathom. Creek banks are still eroding as moss canopies collapse and trees continue to tumble into the water channels. Many years will pass before this process begins to stabilize.
Restructured trail tracks flood-created tributaries of Ribbon Creek as the trail weaves it's way through accumulated piles of flood debris.
A memorial bench has been isolated on the far-side of Ribbon Creek where the Ribbon Creek trail has been damaged beyond recovery. A short distance further upstream an impromptu log creek crossing has been hastily assembled to provide access to the orphaned memorial bench on the far side of Ribbon Creek. On this day, water levels are seasonally low and with spring runoff a new route will need to be established. There is no shortage of available lumber debris remaining from the historic flood event.
The final, new bridge crosses Ribbon Creek to reestablish connection with the original old logging road. The road continues west to the remains of the sturdy bridge destroyed by the flood. The half of the old bridge which remains has been converted to a rustic viewing platform which was undoubtedly easier than removing the behemoth. It is my understanding the bridge was originally installed to service heavy early twentieth century logging trucks and a product of the Federal Department of Transport within newly created and provincial Kananaskis Country. No doubt there were negotiations which impacted the construction of revised trail.
Shortly past the bridge the now-wide trail passes the intersection to the taped and new cross country ski trail before continuing to the intersection with Kovach Link and the crossing of Ribbon Creek on a wide, new bridge built to replace the original washed away by the flood.
Where the wide Ribbon Creek trail passes within close proximity to Ribbon Creek, there is ample opportunity for artistic photography as crystal-clear, emerald water crashes over newly-exposed, colorful rock contained by vivid green moss borders.
On retreat, the return to Ribbon Creek parking will be hypothetically achieved by the newly created and previously unexplored cross country ski route. There is always a feeling of excitement and anticipation while navigating new path with uncertain destination.
The subtle curling road gains moderate elevation consistently through dense pine forest. The view back to the valley floor provides magnificent views of Mount Kidd. Past a significant hairpin turn on the moderate downhill slope, a propped-up, path-side sign confirms the route is intended for cross-country skiing. The road gains more elevation than expected to a different intersection than anticipated.
A short side trail leads to a log bench with a spectacular vista overlooking the valley and distant mountains.
The newly created road flattens and curls right to achieve the taped end of the new route which intersects with the trail to Coal Mine Scar also known as the Mount Allan Centennial Trail.
From this intersection, an enjoyable and leisurely downhill hike proceeds on wide path to the intersection with Hidden Trail and the casual descent to the Ribbon Creek parking area prior to an excellent lunch at Boundary Ranch along Kananaskis Trail.
The remainder of the afternoon will feature a hike to Troll Falls from Stoney Trail with a return via the flood ravaged banks of the Kananaskis River via Hay Meadow.
Pictures for this hike along Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada were taken on September 8, 2016.