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Published: September 5th 2015
Our first choice for a hike today was Wilcox Pass. This hike has views of the Athabasca Glacier and seven of the 25 highest peaks in Canada. But there was too much smoke! And, as bad as it is here in Jasper, it is much, much worse in other parts of the province, including Calgary. Our sons sent a message to us saying it was almost blocking out the sun! The smoke is coming up from the northwestern United States where huge fires are burning - amost 1million acres so far. So we chose the Beauty Creek Trail. There was still smoke (you can see it in some of the photos), but we we were down in the trees and weren't trying to see something in the distance like a glacier.
Beauty Creek Trail
This trail really does live up to its name. I found it similar to Johnston Canyon but without the crowds and well-maintained trails. We met only one other couple on our way up and six people on our way out, four of whom turned back early on. By the time we were coming out, we knew why. We had found this trail in a book I
purchased while in Mt. Robson Park entitled, “Walks & Easy Hikes in the Canadian Rockies.” The trail was rated as a moderate hike of 5 km return with an approximate time of two hours. The book also stated there were eight waterfalls. Now, that’s a lot of waterfalls in a short distance, and really who’s counting? As we marveled at one gorgeous waterfall after another, I started noticing the trail was getting narrower, steeper, with more rocks, boulders and tree roots. David’s GPS said we had travelled further than 2.5 km, but the trail continued on, and so we just continued to follow it. Eventually, we came to some steep rocky slopes that were probably the result of an avalanche that had me thinking really hard about turning back. But, we’d come so far and there was that final set of falls at the end that I knew David was itching to photograph. So with my heart in my throat, I crossed the slope. This might not have been so bad had we not had to do this again! Finally, we came to a large waterfall that was across the canyon – I thought, “This is it!” But, no David’s
GPS said the trail continued … so, off we went again, over more treacherous slopes.
Success at last! The three waterfalls that met us were glorious. David, of course, bounded down the rocks to get the best photo, and then disappeared from view. My anxiety level being already primed from scrambling over rocks, went into overdrive as I searched to catch a glimpse of him. Seeing nothing, I leaned up against a tree and looked away thinking, “There’s nothing I can do now. If he’s fallen in, I don’t want my last memory to be seeing him being swept away in the water and over the falls.” Of course, this didn’t last long, and I peaked. There he was waving at me. The noise from the falls meant he couldn’t hear a thing I said, but my body language spoke volumes. When he came back up, he assured me he was on a large shelf, which I couldn’t see from my vantage point, and was perfectly safe. But he did realize the moment he went out of view, I was probably panicking. He promised not to repeat this in the future … we’ll see…
The trip back down
We made it!
It's hard to see, but there are three falls converging here.
was not pretty. At several points, all I could think of was, “This will be on the evening news!” Meanwhile, David was crossing the slopes like he was walking on an uneven sidewalk, sometimes holding my hand while walking backwards. His thoughts were probably, “I need to find a different hiking partner.” (For a similar story see: See "The Rob Roy Glacier", October 5th, 2014. I truly thought that would be the LAST time I would attempt this kind of thing. But I guess, I'm a slow learner along with being a slow climber.)
When we finally returned to our truck SIX hours later, we consulted the book. We discovered the last set of falls for this hike was Stanley Falls – 2.5 km from the trailhead. (Remember, we weren’t really counting.) It went on to say, “Travel beyond Stanley Falls is a wilderness route; the sources of Beauty Creek are in a labyrinth of side valleys in one of the more rugged and beautiful areas of the park. Turn back here
I can vouch that this was indeed a rugged and beautiful area – between the rocky slopes there were forested areas where the moss was so
thick that I had visions of lying down and disappearing forever. (Or perhaps, it was just wishful thinking.) I am now left with two questions: One, “What were the names of the three falls we saw at the end of the trail?”, and two, “Why didn’t David mention the sign he saw on the trail that said, “Wilderness Route?”
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