Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hummingbird Plume Fire Lookout -- July 6, 2008

Hummingbird-Plume Fire Lookout. Trail details: Take Highway 40 south to the Kananaskis Lodge/Nakiska turnoff. Drive straight toward the Nakiska Ski Lodge and park at the gates. Trail is behind the lodge, heading north. Take Skogan Pass Trail to Hummingbird Plume Lookout.

So, it took Nat and I some time to clue into the best way to find good solid trails with amazing vantage points, but once we tuned into the fire lookout hikes, we were off to the races.

There are literally dozens of fire lookout trails throughout Alberta and BC. They make great hikes because they're usually accessible by a trail that requires little climbing or scrambling, and since the locations were originally selected due to the expansive view of the area, the payoff for the trail is usually pretty sweet.

Most of the fire lookout hikes in the Kananaskis area are for defunct lookouts. The lookouts have been decommissioned and more often than not, the buildings themselves torn down or taken away.

Hummingbird Plume was a nice exception -- the long abandoned lookout is still standing, and contains a lot of history within.

On the way, we encountered more wildflowers, and I got to attempt to improve on my wildflower knowledge. My not-so-extensive wildflower books didn't have this one, but it very closely resembles the Prickly Rose (rosa acicularis), which tends to cross-breed with other roses:

Once we started heading up hill, the trail was green and lush and utterly deserted:

The hike to the actual structure was a steady climb, but far from strenuous. We came to a small clearing where this small building stood (that's Nat taking a look inside):

Clearly, this particular structure has been around some time. How long? Well, one reference book (Mike Potter's excellent "Fire Lookout Hikes in the Canadian Rockies") mentioned some of the lumber used to build this lookout was stamped from 1915. After some searching, we found that stamp, near the roof:

Inside, more history etched into the walls:

The lookout itself is off to the side, through a small clearing, then suddenly we came to a cliff edge, and the valley was spread out before us:

Hubby kindly stitched together this panorama shot from all my shots from the viewpoint. No photo could possibly do this view justice, but this comes close (please click the photo for a better look):

Beautiful hike without a strenuous workout... we couldn't have asked for more!


Suzanne Perazzini said...

Hummingbird Plume Lookout is another of those strange names. I presume there are hummingbirds up there but what about the Plume part?

Michelle said...

I'm not sure anyone really knows how that lookout got such a name. Even the trail guides refer to the intriguing name, but never detail where it came from. The only info I found said the lookout received its name after it was already out of active service...

And to add to the confusion... I don't think there are hummingbirds up there either!

Rocky Mtn. Girl said...

What a beautiful post and I am impressed with that panorama shot. Clicking on that photo is outstanding! I would like to do that hike one day... thank you for opening my eyes to this stunning area, Michelle!

Michelle said...

Thank you so much Michele.... it's my hubby that worked so hard on that panorama shot.. he's a real whiz with Photoshop and things like that. Hope one day to see you out here...

The Unknown Potter said...

just happened to see this. I was a fire lookout for years in the area, and this particular lookout was visited/or built by prisoners of war from nearby camp. My grandfather was a Captain at the camp. It was nicknamed "Camp Can -A- Nazi"- it is now the forestry research station. I have news articles and pictures from 1940 or so in a scrapbook.
I worked at all the lookouts in Mike Potters book,1978-2000
daniel Stark Vernon BC

The Unknown Potter said...

I was a lookout 1978-2000 at all the lookouts in the area. This lookout was signed by prisoners of war from the local camp in the war. My grandfather was captain at the camp and I have pictures of the camp from that period. It is now the research center.
It was nick named Camp Cananazi...
daniel stark Vernon BC

The Unknown Potter said...

there are hummingbirds there=- they fly very high to the lookouts