December 8, 2012
It seems like an eternity since I've gone searching for frozen waterfalls, and on this day I would do just that, along the Poboktan Creek in Jasper. On this occasion I would make it an attempt to travel on my trail via snowshoes. After the snow storm the night before, there would now be an additional 15cm of fluffy powder to trudge through.
The duration of the trail would be 12-13km in one direction to the falls, and on this beautiful sunny Saturday it would make for some stellar hiking. With my 35-45lbs I was carrying in my backpack, and my weight, it would cause for me to sink in the snow, more than I wanted to. This meant that the entire trail was an exhausting hike which wrecked havoc on my legs and energy levels. Even though I had two other willing hikers with me, I would say that this was almost as exhausting as the Snake Indian mountain bike ride earlier this year. The snow level that we sank down came up to our knees and there was still another foot of snow under that.
To get to this hiking path you need to take Highway 93 South towards Banff. After passing Sunwapta Resort on your right, you will encounter the gate closure area which leads you into where the "Big Bend" is on the highway. At this gate closure on your left you will see a warden station; this is where the trail begins and where our Saturday morning adventure would commence.
The trail is hardly visible in the winter time. Even though the snow storm passed through the day before the only visible tracks were those of animals which have gone through from days past and as recently as overnight. Though we would not encounter any wild animals on our walk, we will pass by an array of tracks; ranging from rabbit, bird, lynx and the widely popular caribou. To further make mention on the caribou in the area; within this range of mountains it is widely popular to see caribou about. As it is one of the most popular areas to find them within the Canadian Rockies.
On our drive towards this area we encountered a heard of caribou just south of the Whistler mountain ski turnoff. So it is likely that the tracks that we encountered on our hike were made during the night from the very caribou we had passed.
Aside from the hope of a wildlife encounter, we were pushing on towards our destination with vigor. As each time we would approach a bend in the trail, the lead trail blazer would feel fouled as the road ahead looked as though it promised a clearing from the trees. This to us was meant to signify the kilometer marker 6.5, where the trail forks and goes either North (to Maligne Lake) or South (to our waterfalls). Although we would make a total of 7.15Km on this day, we did not notice any turnoff on our trail. This goes to show that a trail in the winter can deviate quite a lot from one in the summer.
Although I would once again fail to complete my travel to the waterfall, I am extremely encouraged to make an attempt in the summer where I will be on foot, and hopefully able to bring you along for the ride.