Ptarmigan Falls

June 15, 2013

This trail is a loop and totals 4.5km, however that distance is climbing a great deal of elevation the entire time.  I had thought that this would be a quick and easy jaunt and didn't put much effort into my planning for this trip as a result. I would be proven wrong; as if the elevation alone wasn't enough, there was still a great deal of snow in mid-June.  The level of snow was such that I couldn't believe, as at times the height reached my hips.  Even though I'm relatively short, that was still high as the first day of summer would be 6 days away.

This is also a great history lesson as prior to the warmer climate days of modern times, I would well assume that this area may have kept snow almost year round. This is speculation on my part, however there was a glacier on top of a mountain (adjacent to the one pictured), which may put some validation to my theory.

In order to hike this trail, you first have to note that the road (Highway 40) at this point is only accessible after June 14 each year.  So make sure you plan around that before setting off to venture out in search of these waterfalls.  Also the parking lot will be on the West side of the road, and the trail starts on the East side.  It is well labeled with a sign for Ptarmigan Cirque and the parking lot is clearly visible on the drive South.  Just be cautious as the road crossing (although labeled) the highway speed is 90 Km/Hr.

Prior to crossing the road I met a couple furry friends, whom chimed in and chatted with me on my video.  The two (pictured below) are permanent fixtures in this area, and have a plaque which educates people on their habitat.  Once the snow completely melts, these little guys may be out in more numbers scouring the grass, so perhaps in July this may be a great sight to behold.

On this day it was difficult for me to keep an eye on the trail, due in part to the snow covering the majority of indicators and also the previous winter's skiers, which were taking me off the actual hiking trail by guiding me in the wrong direction.  Although that aside, my greatest issue was in noting that the trail runs counter clockwise (Starting at 6 O'Clock), as I was attempting to travel clockwise and follow the ski trails.  Which this new knowledge in hand, hopefully my next encounter here will be a bit quicker.

Some of the greatest highlights of this hike was the amazing view from atop of the trail.  Beyond the scope of the video, I decided to continue to climb the mountain as the view once the trees part is absolutely breathtaking.  For a short hike, and one that can be fit into most as an afternoon jaunt, it does return the favor of a stunning view of the mountains and valley below.

As far as the waterfall goes, from my vantage point I was unable to capture a great photo as I stood above it as a 30 degree angle.  However I was more interested in the view at that point, and should you watch the video, you would be as well.  Another note on the waterfall, as the snow was abundant, the waterfall was just breaking out of it's winter freeze, and only a fraction of it's size was available.  As I mention in the video, perhaps a late July attempt at this hike would be best.