Twenty people came out to the Beyond Event at the Goldeye Centre to explore Alberta’s David Thompson country on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies. Autumn was just beginning. On each of the four days we hiked in comfortably cool weather under sunny skies. Each day, more leaves turned red or yellow, but they were not yet falling.
In the week before the trip, Anita and Sherry found and explored new trails and more. Thus we added new hikes to our list of choices.
Day 1 –White Goat Falls
For most of us, the trip started with a meetup at the Wooden Shoe, a Gull Lake coffee shop and store that specializes in products from Netherlands. Then it was on to the Dry Haven Creek picnic area for lunch and introductions.
After lunch we drove to White Goat Falls. As the first hike of the event, it was a good warm-up for what we would experience on the rest of the trip.
Next we checked in at the Goldeye Centre, our home base. Like last year, we occupied two full wings and had the whole dining room to ourselves each day.
Day 2 – Thompson Creek Falls
The trail head for this hike has no marked staging area. Just as you come up to the Thompson Creek Campground on the left, you must turn right, into the ditch just before the guard rail. That confused many of us who had gone ahead of Anita, and we ended up as far as the national park before we turned around and retraced our route.
Thompson Creek is in an area that had a forest fire not very long ago. The landscape is just recovering now, with saplings growing up between the burnt timber, and acres and acres of fireweed.
About halfway to the falls, the trail climbed up a slope that required some nimble footing. That gave some of us good reason to turn around and do a short hike at Siffleur Falls instead. The rest continued on and when we got to the point where you can just see the two falls, six of us thought we had climbed enough and stayed put. The remaining eight carried on all the way to the top, getting the full experience of the hike and the best views.
For those who went all the way to the top, the hike was about 14 km.
Day 3 – Coliseum Mountain, Crescent Falls, Siffleur Falls
This day was designed to accommodate our various different hiking preferences.
One group spent the day at Siffleur Falls and then Crescent Falls.
A group of nine went to hike Coliseum Mountain. As we drove down the highway we saw that snow had fallen on the mountain tops overnight.
We climbed most of the elevation while in the trees. The path opened out to a layer of fresh snow. However, the snow became a problem when we attempted the walk along the narrow rubble-covered ledge which leads to the Coliseum peak. We found the snow-covered rock was too treacherous and so we turned back.
The hike had a bonus, however. On the trail we talked to a couple of young men who told us about a water fall and pools near the start—you just have to follow the creek bed. A few of us did that, and discovered a new place to soak our feet after a hike.
Day 4 – BATUS Canyon, Fish Lake Provincial Recreation Area
It was our last day and we had two hikes to choose from. One group took the gentle walk around Shunda Lake at Fish Lake PRA. Grebes were spotted on the water.
The other group visited an unnamed, unmarked creek that leads to a spectacular canyon. BATUS (British Army Training Unit – Suffield) used to train here. The hike begins with either jumping over rocks on the creek bed or treading softly on the mossy paths alongside the creek—you decide how you want to go.
Eventually you come to the rock wall and the creek turns left. This is the start of the canyon.
In here we found climbing ropes anchored into the rock, and of course, some of us had to try out it out. It was easy to see what a great spot it is for training—easy to get to and out of sight from tourists.
Many thanks to Anita for organizing the event and, along with Sherry, discovering and scouting these trails. Thanks also go to Lannie and the staff at Goldeye Centre for hosting and feeding us and making us feel very welcome.
You can see all the pictures on Flickr.