French Falls

December 28, 2013

This is my round two, and within two weeks, that I would try this French Creek trail.  Many guidebooks seems to ignore or shrug aside the existence of it.  Just like I mentioned in my last attempt, the path is unmarked, even at the trail head.  On this day I would go through some mental games trying to piece together the puzzle that is this trail.

This time I would start off on Burstall Pass and veer off on a southerly direction on what should be called French Creek trail.  Again, as this is unmarked in terms of signs,  the best I can explain is the trail forks near a small noticeable hill, and you'll be going south and on the right had side of French Creek.  The elevation starts almost immediately upon starting this offshoot, and in snowshoes, this was a sweaty adventure blazing the trail.

Once you enter over the first kilometer you will encounter another fork in the road.  Veering off to the right is the access to the first waterfall.  At approximately 1.7-1.8 kilometers there should be a waterfall at your feet.  Although on this day, due to the June floods, what should have been a waterfall was covered in snow and fallen debris.  Normally a nicely well kept waterfall jutting out of the mountains had been covered by fallen and uprooted trees.

Getting back to the trail I would continue onward (keeping to my left at the next fork) until I entered a clearing and my snowshoe adventure came to a halt.  There was what looked like a grey cloud snow storm entering the area, and we were warming up in the afternoon, combined with the valley we sat in made for some nervous adventurers with me; as the possibility of an avalanche went from possible to probable.

To make the situation more alarming, there were fresh cougar tracks when I was exploring further along the trail.  Since we set off there was a constant snow, and it would collect a near 5cm by the time we made it to this valley, with the additional 10-15 centimeters of overnight snow.  These tracks (and yes there were two sets) were as fresh as the snowshoe imprints I left behind me.

Upon turning out of the bush and heading back toward where we came, there was a moose no more than 10 feet away!  Up on this hill the moose was grazing on the trees, all the while sniffing the air looking to find us (as we were upwind).  I'm not sure the nature of cougars / mountain lions, or whether they attack moose; however I didn't want to stick around to see them fail and look to us for a second option or quick meal.  I also didn't get the feeling from my adventurers that they wanted to be a quick microwaveable meal for the cats either.

For me the sighting of large cats aren't enough for me to fall back, but include with that the event that the avalanche could occur at moments notice, oh and lets not forget my most feared animal of all time (yup a moose) and I decided that this waterfall can wait for my return.

Overall, I've now explored this trail from multiple angles.  I've taken to the creek from the start and pushed in over a kilometer.  I've also explored the trail from above the creek (the one described on this day) and have taken all of it's off shoots and forks in the road.  None of which have seemed promising for a waterfall.  Perhaps that is due to the June floods, however I'm just as at fault as trying to explore during the winter can be much more tough than in the summer months.

Although there are no sightings of waterfalls in this area for me, I do have to go against the grain here and mention that despite what guide books seem to say, this was a wonderful snowshoe trail.  The surrounding mountain peaks and snow covered slopes were well worth the adventure.  having covered the equivalent of 10 Kilometers of track on this beautiful blue sky day (until the storm started) was well worth my time.

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