Thursday, May 15, 2008

Elbow Falls and Beaver Flats -- May 10, 2008

Elbow Falls Day Use Area: From Bragg Creek, take Highway 22 south to the t-intersection. Turn right onto Highway 66. Follow Highway 66 for about 20-25 kms, or until you see the winter gates for Highway 66. Entrance to parking lot is on the south side of the highway, right before the gates.

Beaver Flats Interpretive Walk: Just beyond Elbow Falls along Highway 66. There is a small parking lot on the south side of the highway.

Finally got a chance to get out a little this weekend. The snow is still pretty plentiful in the mountains, but the weather is nice and the snow is slushy and thick. It'll be gone soon. A lot of the highways actually open up today, and the upcoming weekend is a long weekend in Canada. Around here it's the first big camping/hiking/riding weekend of the spring, so it's usually complete chaos in the mountains. Hopefully this year won't be a repeat of last year, when campgrounds were trashed and sensitive wetlands areas destroyed.

Here's a link to a story about what the Alberta government is doing to prepare for this weekend:

Thanks to the irresponsible antics of a few, spring's first great escape will be a weekend long on rules and regulation

Anyway, that's off-topic and hopefully won't need to be brought up again. ;-)

D and drove out to Elbow Falls, mostly for the drive, but also to see what the conditions of the trails were after yet more snow in the foothills. I also had a digital camera I was testing for my real-world job (I'll post a review here once I've reviewed it for the paper -- seems only fair).

To my surprise, Elbow Falls was fairly quiet -- the overcast skies and recent snow were keeping people away, which is too bad, because it was a beautiful day to be outside.

Strategically placed swamps and puddles prevented me from getting any straight on shots of the falls, plus the falls were much weaker than they usually are for spring. I imagine once the real run off begins, that will change:

The Elbow Falls Loop is a short interpretive walk at best. The path is mostly staircases built into the rock, and circles beside the falls area.

Come summer, it will be next to impossible to take a photo without someone in it. Upstream there are fire pits and picnic tables, and it's a very popular spot to spend a day. Which why I rarely see this area during summer.

D and I left the parking lot, walked up to the highway and ducked through the gates. We walked down the highway for about 5 minutes until we hit Beaver Flats, another short interpretive walk N and I did last spring, but D had never seen. (Can you tell we weren't into hiking?).

N and I walked Beaver Flats in April of last year. It's unbelievable to look at the photos, because there was considerably more snow there last weekend and we're already into the middle of May:

One thing I love about hiking while there's still lots of snow near the water is how crystal clear the water is. The trail, the roads, the areas around the water are muddy swamps, but the water looks like this:

Beaver Flats is a short walk along an area essentially created by industrious beavers building dam after dam. What remains here is the result of their work: large pools of water, felled trees, and many many dams. Unfortunately, the snow covered most of the sites, but this dam showed through just a little bit:

All in all, a beautiful walk...


Michele (Rocky Mtn.Girl) said...

Beautiful photos. Snow looks like it's clinging for dear life. It isn't far up here before we hit the snow pack but it is melting fast and with the temp reaching 22 today, and even higher this long weekend, it will be pull that snow pack even higher.
Luv your blog, Michelle, hope you don't mind, I'm going to add you to my blog list which can be found at the bottom of Rocky Mountain Retreat Blog... I think it's neat to read about your escapades as hubby and I like to Jeep around the Alberta mountains as well!

Sandpiper said...

What a beautiful place this is! It reminds me somewhat of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It seems strange to see snow this time of year.

Michelle said...

@Michele - Yeah, that snow is likely completely gone by now. It's 23C here, 28C by Saturday.

Definitely add me, and I'll add you as well. I love reading your blog knowing there's someone close by!

@Sandpiper - Funny you say, I was supposed to be in the White Mountains next weekend but had to cancel. I've never been, so maybe soon. And trust me, we're finding the snow strange as well... it's very unusual for this time of year. Of course, by Saturday the temps are supposed to be in the mid 80s! It's weird to have ice fall warnings and fire warnings at the same time!

Suzanne Perazzini said...

What a delightful but chilly-looking walk. And great with the lack of crowds.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

What beautiful photos!!! Thanks for taking us on your outing. Fantastic post. so peaceful and serene. What great names - Elbow Falls and Beaver Flats. :D

Hugs, JJ

Michelle said...

Suzanne, believe it or not, it wasn't that chilly! Maybe I'm too used to it, but it was nice enough to walk around without coats. I'll bet the water was cold though!

Less a week later, it's 30C/85F here!

JJ, Thank you. It was peaceful, which is nice because it's usually so crazy. The nice thing about this area is that you don't have to go too far to find some solitude!

Thanks for coming by!