Dec 30, 2012
What better way to end the year, than to head out to the mountains and demonstrate all that I've learned over the year. On this occasion we would be heading to Banff National Park for a hike towards Mt. Bougeau.
I was lucky this day as the warm Chinook weather over the south of the province made for a decent hike. At its coldest it would be -14c, though with the elevation gain on the hike it might as well felt like I was laying on a beach in Central America. I needed to take a good deal of short 5-10second breaks as I needed to cool my sweat and re energize my calves.
Despite the warmth, I never let the sweat drip from me, as this is a key warming sign for one attempting long hikes in the winter. If there's anything I could caution people on while hiking in the winter is to keep your sweat to a minimum. This is a great way to catch a cold or just simply freeze faster. Take it for what it is, a sign that your body is working too hard. Or as my idol Les Stroud would say "You sweat, you die".
With that aside, this trail was already snowshoed a good amount of times before I set foot on the path. Therefore my hike had a nicely created floor for me to walk on. I was worried on my drive towards Banff, that the snow levels would be high and I would need to rent snowshoes. Thanks to the frequency of travelers I needn't worry about the snowshoes, and was able to set off on foot. Although there were signs of past travelers (and a good deal of them), I never encountered any on this day.
The length of this trail is 5.5Km to the waterfalls and 7.5 to the end destination of Bourgeau Lake. At roughly 5.0km in you will encounter your first decline and it will take you to the bridge in an additional 0.5km. Beneath this bridge you will find the waterfall running down the mountain to create what is called Wolverine Creek.
With the name Wolverine Creek it had me excited and nervous to encounter a wolverine for the first time. I was on edge looking for this new animal, as I was excited to see it in its natural habitat, however I was nervous as I've never encountered one in the wild before. With the folklore behind a wolverine and what the small animal is capable of, I wanted to be sure that should I encounter it, I would do so on its terms. However, I never any witnessed on on this day, though should I return next year in the summer I will again keep an eye out.
Near the end of my trail the sun would reach its peak in the sky (around 1-2pm). Which for me on this warmer day, should mean the snow on the trees would be falling, due to it melting. This would cause me to stop at times and admire a scenic view of powdery snow floating in the wind. However these added sun rays would cause my nicely packed floor beneath me to give way. So at times I would fall beneath the snow, or start to slip alongside the mountain edge. For that reason I did wish I had picked up some snowshoes.
Even though I've successfully captured the waterfall, it was completely covered in snow and not visible. It appears to me that the waterfall cascades down the side of the mountain for a decent fall. It will be easier to verify this in the summer when the snow fully melts. I've learned a lot by traveling this trail, and will be excited to do this one again in the summer.