Sunday, July 19, 2009

Slot Canyon of the Canadian Rockies

Grotto Canyon was mentioned in one of the travel guides I consulted before our trip. It mentioned a pleasant, short hike up a canyon and pictographs. I thought that sounded cool--and the spot was only about a 20 minute drive from our condo. The place was Bow Valley Provincial Park just outside of Canmore. The Canadian government hits visitors with hefty fees to visit their National Parks (it cost $17 for a day pass for the two of us, even with the Senior discount). But, their Provincial Parks are free. We began early, found the trailhead, which was basically empty. The first part of the trail was open, dry, dusty and passed a Magnesium Oxide plant. It did have some wildflowers. I was taking photos and then my camera said "Memory Full". I had "forgotten" the memory chip and left it in the laptop back at the condo. Luckily, I always carried a back up camera with another chip....hike 1/2 mile back to the car to retrieve it. By this time, we wondered whether this hike was really worth it. Then, we reached the place where the trail crossed the "creek". We followed a trail up the other side of the mountain. It quickly became beautiful forest. But, a very steep hike up.

We did enjoy views like this.

The trail eventually came down off the mountain and re-joined the creek into a narrow canyon.

Beautiful moss features.

At this time, we were nearly the only ones in the canyon. We saw footprints of someone else ahead of us, but never saw them.

We arrived at the only cairn on the trip and it "pointed" the way to the pictographs.
We spotted this book left on the trail. Don't know who left it. Maybe they climbed up the rock face.

About half way up, we noticed a gray bird hopping and flitting ahead of us. She would perch on a rock, wait for us, then fly or hop ahead of us. It became very uncanny. It had to be an Angel bird. She guided us to the "grotto" and up a side canyon to a four tiered waterfall.

While we were at the waterfall, a guided tour group came up. The bird disappeared.

After the group went ahead and we started down, little gray bird appeared again and hopped ahead of us going down the canyon. When we began seeing people constantly coming in, she disappeared altogether.

Varnish on a seep near the waterfall.

The lowest tier of the waterfall. Bob walked up the slick rock to see the other tiers, but I stayed below. The rock was too "slick" for me. It was virtually polished like agate. Not sandstone or slate.

We went a little ways up the "dry fork" side.

On the way down, we came across these climbers and watched for a while. They even invited Bob to take a climb.

It was a fun, fun hike. And we were smart enough to follow the stream all the way down instead of taking the side trail up the mountain, which shortened the down climb significantly. We were ready for lunch and a nap after that one. We both noticed that we are much better at the "uphill" than at the beginning of the trip.


Desertbound said...

I love your little bird friend! It's strange to see a slot canyon that is GREY instead of orange, red, or pink. Love all the pictures and the travelog!

Bethany said...

Sounds and looks fabulous! I am loving all your photos.