Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hummingbird Plume Fire Lookout

Trip Date: May 2015

Today's objective was to find the Hummingbird Plume Fire Lookout in Evan-Thomas Provincial Recreation Area, which is part of the Kananaskis Country system of parks.  I parked the truck at the Stoney Trailhead, which is very close to the Kananaskis Village and only about 100km west of Calgary along Highway 40.  

After leaving the parking lot, Rome and I hiked along Troll Falls Trail, to Troll Falls.  I hadn't been to Troll Falls since 2006, but the waterfall was exactly as I remembered it.  You can read about that adventure on my previous post titled, Bow Valley Campground.

A portion of the trail map for Evan-Thomas Provincial Recreation Area
Troll Falls
For the sure-footed you can hike up behind the waterfall for some great views/photo opportunities
From Troll Falls we used the short Ruthie's Trail to connect with the Skogan Pass Trail, which lead to the Sunburst Trail intersection.  The trails are all heavily forested, but you do get glimpses of the Nakiska Ski Area and there are a few openings in the foliage for some mountain views.

This is an example of what the trails look like
After completing the Sunburst leg you will reach an intersection.  If you go left you'll access the High Level Trail, but if you turn right you'll find yourself at the Hummingbird Plume Fire Lookout and the accompanying view point.  Obviously we opted for the right-hand trail and after about 400m we reached the lookout.

My first view of the Hummingbird Plume Fire Lookout
The Hummingbird Plume Fire Lookout was built somewhere around 1915, making it approximately 100 years old today.  It was used by German prisoner's of war (POWs) during World War II as a shelter while collecting firewood for Camp 130.  If you look closely inside you can find the names/initials of the following POWs scratched into the wood; Erich Petrinski POW 17.11.1939, JQ 1941, and PW July 6/1941.  For additional information about Alberta's history with POW camps please refer to my Colonel's Cabin Historic Site post or the Lest We Forget story I wrote for Calgary Is Awesome.  

The lookout sits in a small meadow atop Hummingbird Plume Hill, which was named by Dan Gardner in 1973.  All of the surrounding trees are now much taller than the lookout itself and the shelter is in a state of complete disrepair.  Nevertheless it still remains standing and lives as a reminder of our province's wartime history and beyond.

The view from inside the lookout.  You have to hike a little further to get a view today!
Below is a photograph of what the view from Hummingbird Plume Fire Lookout would have looked like prior to the trees growing up around it.  In order to reach this view point you must hike another 100m past the fire lookout.  The prominent twin-summited mountain standing before you is unofficially known as the G8 Summits, because it overlooked the summit that was held in Kananaskis in 2002.  

The view of G8 Summits and the Fisher Ranger
Rome taking a break at the view point
After enjoying the view and thoroughly exploring the fire lookout we made our way back to the junction of Sunburst and High Level Trails.  This time I opt for the High Level loop on our way back to the parking lot.  This adds time and distance, but I wasn't in a hurry even though the threat of rain was present throughout the day.  Just prior to reaching the powerline right-of-way I spotted an old derelict cabin in the woods.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to find anything about this cabin's history online, so I am unsure who it belonged to or what its purpose was.

The old cabin in the woods
The view from the powerline right-of-way
When it was all said and done, Rome and I hiked 14.1kms and enjoyed a great morning outdoors.  We only experienced about ten drops of rain, so luck was also on our side.  It was nice to get out, stretch the legs, and discover another piece of Alberta's history.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

Second Camera Check & Hoodoo Hall

Trip Date: May 2015

One day over the May long weekend, Rome and I headed back out to Devil's Gap in the Ghost Valley to check my trail camera again.  It was such a beautiful day that I decided to head into Banff National Park and hike up Hoodoo Hall, which is something I hadn't done in quite some time.  If you'd like a little more information, please read my previous post about Hoodoo Hall.  

I couldn't have been happier with what I captured on my camera.  I had several first time appearances by Moose, White-Tailed Deer, Red Squirrel, Grizzly Bear, and what appeared to be a Lynx or a Bobcat.  It was tough to tell since the photos were taken in the dark, but it seems to be a small cat of sorts.  I also had the mainstays from my First Camera Check; Snowshoe Hare, Coyote, and Grey Wolves.  Here are a few of the better photos from this camera check...

The first photo I captured of a Moose
A great shot of a black Wolf looking right at the camera
This Grizzly Bear just looks miserable, walking head-on into the wind and rain
There is a collection of photos posted on my Facebook page if you're interested in seeing the rest of them.

After swapping memory cards and changing the batteries in my trail camera, we entered Banff National Park and headed towards Hoodoo Hall.

The entrance to Hoodoo Hall
Looking back from where we came from
Hoodoo Hall is a spectacular canyon in Banff's backcountry.  It's steep, narrow walls and unique rock formations make it an appealing attraction for those who know about it.  A cluster of hoodoos can be found a short distance inside the canyon, hence it's name.  They almost seem out of place in the Rocky Mountains; like they were transported from Alberta's badlands.  

The hoodoos of Hoodoo Hall
Another shot of the hoodoos
We continued hiking up the canyon until we reached a fork in the road.  We opted to take the left-hand trail and worked our way up and over larger boulders as we followed a quickly flowing stream.  

Hiking through the narrow canyon
This large boulder seemed oddly out of place, but made for an excellent spot to stop and have lunch
Rome enjoying her surroundings
After lunch we turned around and started making our way back to the car.  I am unsure how far we hiked this day or how much elevation we gained as I forgot to turn on my app.  I am also uncertain whether the app would have even worked inside the canyon's walls.  I guess there's always next time!

This Red Squirrel and I had a bit of a staring contest before it scampered away
It will likely be a couple of months before I can get back out to Devil's Gap to check my camera again, but until then stay tuned for more adventures outside.