Friday, July 4, 2014

Ice Caves

Trip Date: June 2014

In late June Ryan, Ashley, Christine, and I wanted to get out of town for the day.  It had been a very rainy month and this Saturday was the first sunny day in a long time.  Many of the trails near Calgary were still snowbound or wet and muddy because of all the rain.  We eventually decided on the Canyon Creek Ice Caves, which are located in Kananaskis Country.  The access road to the caves is regularly used by oil and gas companies, so the cave would still be accessible even if other areas of the park were under water.  

This was my third trip to the caves, but it was the first for my three companions.  It was also the first time that Rome accompanied us to the cave, so we were a bit curious to see how she'd behave once inside.  For more information about accessing the cave, or to learn about my past adventures there, please visit my earlier post by clicking here.  After the 6km bike ride along the gravel road, we stashed the bikes and began the short, but steep, climb to the mouth of the cave.

Looking up from the trail
Ryan, Christine, and I hiking along the trail
I spotted this seashell fossil on a large rock beside the trail
Christine climbing up to the cave
The mouth of the Ice Cave
We stopped for lunch at the mouth of the cave before donning our coveralls and heading inside.  The temperature inside stays around  0°C all year, so you'll want to be prepared before exploring the cave.  This was the earliest I'd ever been to the cave and I found that there was more ice inside than on my previous visits. 

Ice inside the cave
A large pillar of ice near the centre of the cave
More ice hanging from the ceiling of the cave
We snapped this group photo after thoroughly exploring the main chamber
A group of students, who were also visiting the cave, told us about a narrow passage that leads away from the main chamber and climbs up through a chimney towards the ceiling.  I'd been up to the chimney vent on previous trips, but had never squished myself through this small opening before.  After sizing up a few of the students and determining that at least one of them was larger than we were, we decided to follow in their footsteps!

This is Ryan squeezing through the narrow passageway
Me, Ashley, and Ryan inside a small room after crawling through the small channel
We ultimately made our way to the ceiling of the cave and were rewarded with this view.  That's Christine and Rome down at the bottom.
We all made it out of the cave safe and sound.  Rome did exceptionally well inside the cave.  We attached a small turtle-light to her collar so we wouldn't lose her.  Once we were all inside she did a lot of her own exploring, but never venturing very far from us.  I'm assuming she was trying to track down a few of the rodents that call the cave home.  We hiked down to the bikes and made the quick ride ride back to the vehicles.  Overall it was a great day of exploration and fun.  Although I've been there a number of times now, I still really enjoy going back and discovering something new.

In June 2016 I published a story called Cool Caves for the Calgary Guardian that features the Canyon Creek Ice Cave.