Elbow Valley Trail: Trail parallels Highway 66. One Trailhead is located at Station Flats, the other near the gates at Elbow Falls. About 9km distance. A few good climbs.
Despite the nearly 10km hike the day before in Sibbald, I was all fired up to have another go at the Elbow Valley Trail. Not that we expected this to be a particularly arduous climb, but I thought this would be a nice complement to the other hike. It was, but not in the way I expected. It seemed tougher.
The first part of the hike passed as before: many trees down, some posing a real challenge (see The Elbow Valley Obstacle Course). Other than a few brief steep climbs and mild drops, there were no real inclines or declines along the trail.
Until we got to Canyon Creek Road.
The trail crosses over the road, and immediately dips to what I assume used to be a fairly large creek, but is now a large dry bed. This is actually a nice change to the hike. After spending the past hour winding through the forest, we got to stroll through a bit of a meadow, and the walk along and then through the stones of the dry bed. The sun was just getting to a higher point in the sky and warming up considerably. The break came at a perfect time. Too bad there wasn't just a little bit of a creek.
We crossed over and began what we assumed would be more forest strolling, but we hadn't noticed the fact this path led directly to a fairly sizable foothill... and then the path appeared to go straight up.
Ok, not really, that turned out to be a "shortcut" some previous smartass had cut up the hill. The actual path however, was a series of steady switchbacks up the side of the foothill/mountain. Yes, I know that's the whole point of hiking. Onwards...
The nice thing about those switchbacks and sharp inclines is the feeling of complete and total victory when you get to the top without stopping. And the view. That amazing view is always such a payoff....
Looking South... that is Canyon Creek Road at the bottom, with Highway 66 in the distance
Following that little workout we did hike at a much more sedate pace along the top of the foothills, mostly through some sparse white birch and fields. The path does drop and climb another large foothill soon after the first one, but the rest of the trail is a gradual decline into a more forest-like setting. The Sulphur Springs trail also spins off from this trail -- we opted to try that one at a later date.
As the trail got closer to Station Flats where my car awaited us, things started to look very familiar. Diamond T also merges with Elbow Valley Trail for about the last half km. It was around this point we found this little guy.
He barely took notice of us he was so intent on chowing down on that little pinecone of his. It actually looks a little like a drumstick the way he was holding it (click photo for larger view).
N and I did this hike in about 3 hours and figured out that was prolly our limit without bringing along a snack and taking a break (D and I discovered about the same time limit on a similar hike). It's not so much that we get tired, but the hiking needs to be broken up a little, or you're just hiking to be done, and that totally defeats the purpose.