Sunday, 30 June 2013

Canada Hols - Glacier National Park

Sunday was a quiet day of gentle walking. We drove to nearby Glacier National Park. The Roger's Pass Discovery Centre is the National Park HQ, and hosted a museum regarding the beginnings of the park. Outside one window was what we discovered to be a Columbian Ground Squirrel sitting upright & alert on the edge of the burrow, showing off his red belly. We wondered at the guns, and found they are used to bring on avalanches. We decided to go west and work our way back towards the east, so began with Hemlock Grove Boardwalk which was through a remnant of old-growth forest. Apart from the 2 major tree species, Western Red Cedar and Hemlock, there seemed only to be under-story plants. This was a very moist area with small creeks running through. At morning tea we were entertained by more Columbian Ground Squirrels, and beautiful blue woodpecker. Further back was the Rockgarden Trail, an interpretive walk which centred around a huge rock avalanche, and featured the gradual rehabilitation by nature. The Loop Brook Trail commemorated the history of the original rail line through the pass, and some of the walk followed the old rail track. Huge stone piers had been built early in the 1900s, and a figure-8 design for the rail was required to get up the steep slope. Past Illecillewaet camp-ground was the Glacier House Site, ruins of a Hotel built in the 1900s for the tourist brought by the railroad, including mountain climbers. Past this site was the Meeting of the Waters, the confluence of the Illecillewaet River and Asulkan Brook. The water was really thundering down both, and it was really relaxing to sit and listen to it, and admire the surrounding mountains, and receding Illecillewaet glacier. All of the walks we had shared with other walkers, but when we arrived at Bear Creek Falls, we were the only ones. Darryl made good use of his whistle the whole way....just in case the creek lived up to its name! (As we were alone when we got out of the car, I decided to 'test' my personal alarm – which I always carry with me – as I had been feeling very confident on all our walks, only to discover that the batteries are flat. I guess it was better to find out when I really didn't need to use it). This walk was a fairly steep downhill & stairs to a waterfall which was almost hidden under the veil of mist being whipped up by the force of the waterfall pounding over the cliff.

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