Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sulphur Springs -- November 18, 2007

Elbow Valley - Sulphur Springs loop: Trail Particulars - Take Highway 66 to the Station Flats parking lot/trailhead. Use the same trailhead as Diamond T, but turn left (south) at the fork at the beginning of the trail. Follow this trail until you reach a junction - this is the Sulphur Springs loop (part of the loop is shared with the Elbow Valley trail).

I was a little shocked to realize that even after extensive hiking all over the Elbow Valley, N and I had never actually done the Sulphur Springs loop. Even though the wind was roaring through the valley, and there were likely more trees down all over the place, we wanted to get this new trail hiked as soon as possible.

The nice thing about starting early is that we usually have the trails to ourselves. Lately, though, the other bonus has been seeing the sun rise as we drive to the trailhead. I swear, one of these days, we're going to get caught meeting at the trailhead with no sun! Anyway, I got to catch some early morning sun coming through the trees:

We also happened upon this little treat along the trail, obviously long abandoned, but still perfectly intact:

Sulphur Springs is described as a roller coaster and crosses the Moose Mountain access road twice, so we'd expected a lot of hills and a few vistas. This was shortly after our first crossing of the Moose Mountain access road, and only a fraction of the vista we were eventually able to see. Moose Mountain is just beyond the range in the foreground:

Taking a quick look behind us, again right after we'd crossed the Moose Mountain road. And yes, it was as cold as it looks, and it was ridiculously windy, but it was so worth it:

For a good portion of the hike, the path was clear, or only had minor obstructions, but once we started heading downhill towards the shared Elbow Valley part of the trail, things began to look a lot different. The evidence of multiple wind storm was all around us. At one point we walked through what we called a "tree graveyard", where it seemed there were more fallen trees than standing ones.

This particular part of the trail took some very careful navigation. This is all on the trail directly in front of us... the rest of the area looked pretty much exactly the same:

I can't imagine how long it's going to take to just clear the trail, let alone clean up what's fallen.... if they ever do.