Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Marble Canyon (near Radium, BC) -- July 20, 2009

We'd driven to Fairmont Hot Spring in BC for an anniversary getaway. While the focus of the trip was not hiking, but more of the hot-tub soaking, mini-golf playing variety, on our drive back I wanted to stop and see an old trail I've visited as a child -- probably the first place I ever took hiking photos.

An aside, Highway 93 between Lake Louise, AB and Radium, BC is some of the most beautiful country ever. I'm hoping to get out there for many more hikes this summer.

Marble Canyon is just off Highway 93 in BC, and it's a lovely walk alongside a canyon as the crevice gets deeper and deeper. I last visited in 1985 (or so) and my childhood memories were of a heavily forested walk with amazing canyon views.

The trail starts out as a fast running creek, clear and refreshing on this summer day:

As we turned the first corner, I quickly discovered the trail from my childhood memories was long gone. Instead of the shady forest, we were greeted with the remnants of burnt trees, and the bushy green undergrowth of a forest only a few precious years into rebuilding:

Signs indicated the area had burned in 2003, part of a massive fire that burned over 170 square kilometers of Kootenay National Park -- almost 12 per cent of the total area of the park itself! It had taken a month to contain and extinguish the lightning-ignited fire, and when the fire was out, the Marble Canyon area was almost completely destroyed. It took 4 years of hard work to rebuild the bridges, railings and trails and ensure public safety.

Even the tops of the mountains had burned, leaving the rocky peaks to look like they had "whiskers":

The colour of the water coming from the canyon looked unbelievably fresh and clean:

Crossing over one of the first bridges, the depth of the canyon starting to form:

Looking back at the first bridge:

As the canyon got deeper, the angles became more striking:

Even deeper. The fact the forest has burned away shows that this canyon really does appear in the middle of a field. Even looking from a few hundred feet away, you might not know the earth opened up like this:

It looks like just an ordinary meadow in the mountains:

The trail backed by another look at the magnitude of the area the fire covered. How much different it looked when it was old-growth forest:

Another look at a canyon in the middle of a meadow:

Yes, you do eventually start to get a little intimidated by the height...

As we got further along the trail to the deepest parts of the canyon, water would dribble out of the walls. There was no water visible that high up -- it just seemed to come right from the rocks:

Falls at the end of the trail. The spray from this was pretty great on such a hot summer day:

From here the water is just another mountain stream, winding its way through the meadow. Almost impossible to believe a simple drop off and a small waterfall could create such a magnificent canyon.

1 comment:

Suzanne Perazzini said...

What a sad sight to see those burnt trees but Nature is amazing and regenerates itself beautifully though never quite in the same way. I love the turquoise color of mountain streams. That canyon sure became steep. You wouldn't want to be falling down there.