Iced waterfall after iced waterfall. Curtains of icicles, some as tall as a man. A creek, still flowing with a swift current even in early December, filling the landscape with its gurgling sounds. Steep canyon walls, worn smooth and carved into gracefully curving shapes by the passage of water over time. Large waterfalls, still visibly flowing behind thin & transparent ice sheets, plunging into rocky, snow covered basins below. Startling blue ice clinging to cliff walls. And massive, towering mountains, like Mount Kidd, Mount Bogart and Ribbon Peak standing watch far above. This is what the narrow, Ribbon Creek Valley was like on the unseasonably warm December morning that we set out to hike her lovely trails.
There are some trails in our mountains that are very popular on a hot, sunny, summer’s day… but we really don’t enjoy hiking with the crowds. On this early December day, we decided to set out on one that is often a busy back country camping access route in the summer, to explore an exceptionally beautiful valley that we have so far, only seen from its passes far above. And it was a success! We spent the entire day hiking 25km in and out, and came across only one other couple, briefly, on our journey. That kind of solitude is magnificent!
We got to the trailhead early in the morning, so that we could maximize daylight on what would be our last great hike of the season.
The first four kilometres of the trail follow a wide, multi-use skiing, biking and hiking trail in Kananaskis country, close to the Kananaskis Village.
The Wizard Stump marks access to the new trail, that goes on higher ground and adds a bit of distance to the hike, replacing the heavily damaged sections of the trail that were hit hard during the flood of 2013.
We picked a tea and cookie spot that had a natural rock bench (that would be under water with spring runoff flows!), perched on the side of the canyon, with a waterfall rushing past. It was spectacular.
We were so thrilled to get such a long hike in so late in the season. Hiking the first week of December in relatively mild temps with very little snow and having the trail virtually to ourselves was a fantastic end to a stellar hiking season.
If you would like to see what the hike and falls look like in the summer, with higher water volumes, click here.
Trekking up a mountain’s shoulder, hiking through a flowering alpine meadow, snowshoeing through a dense pine forest, or taking in the 360 degree views from a ridge top vantage point make me feel alive. The experiences in these places give me a profound sense of space and place.
Travel does a similar thing, pushing me out of my comfort zone, exposing me to new experiences, new people and new ways of thinking; it also gives me that sense of space and place in this world.
I believe that life is lived in the contrasts: when you experience simplicity and complexity and life's ups and downs, whether they be physically in this world or mentally in your own personal inner landscape, you know that you are truly living.
The bigger they are, the more there is to explore!