Wednesday, March 10, 2010

C Level Cirque -- May 28, 2009

We rarely get out to the Lake Minnewanka area in Banff National Park. I'm not sure why this is, but any chance to hike near a large (for us) body of water is a treat in southern Alberta.

C-Level Cirque is near the historical site of the abandoned coal mining town of Bankhead (the trailhead is actually located right where the town's residents used to live), and the trail itself has its origins as an old coal mining trail. It's not tough to imagine miners tromping up the trail on their way to the mountain's under belly. There are certainly historical signs throughout the trail, right from the picturesque start:

It doesn't take long to stumble upon an old stone structure, abandoned and (sadly) full of graffiti (why do people do this??):

The trail itself at times is coal slack:

In late May, the snow lingers:

Not far up, the trail takes a number of forks and turns. Most wind up at a giant heap of coal slack that provides a vantage point to look out into the valley below:

(Beautiful panaroma - please click for full image)

Nice shot of Lake Minnewanka, the largest lake in the area, created by man-made dams. An interesting tidbit about the lake: when the 1941 dam was built, it submerged the previous dam, a mountain resort village and more, making this a very popular area for scuba enthusiasts. I can't look at it without thinking of the town beneath:

Throughout the trail, there are constant reminders that the mountain beneath you has been hollowed out thanks to years of mining, and straying too far off trail is not recommended:

Fresh bear tracks slightly further up trail kept us from continuing the hike, but the lake was looking pretty gorgeous that day, so it wasn't too much of a hardship to hike back toward the lake shore...

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