Friday, January 3, 2020

Ice Walls and Water Falls

I'm the type of person that the best way to get outside is to simply make up my mind and go.  Today was one of those days where I made up my mind.   I'm glad I did too.

My smile says it all.
Lately I had been going over some maps and aerial imagery and had a location for wandering in mind.  I will resist the urge to tell you here as I feel sometimes our penchant for social media damages the wilderness and solitude I often seek.  Secondly, I want to encourage you to get out and find your own places and get to know your own wilderness.  I hope that in your search that you wander to these great places.
This was the first if many ice formations.
I started the day along a dirt road with a river running nearby.  The weather forecast was promising with seasonally warm temperatures.  As I worked my way down the river I quickly realized I didn't need so many layers.  I paused briefly at the mouth of a tributary, to take off my sweater and grab a drink.  From here I would be heading up hill into a ravine in search of ice walls and waterfalls.  I had been here the previous summer so I was not certain what I would be getting into.  My youthful anticipation was pushing my not so youthful body up the steep hill quicker than I should.  Again I stopped for a drink and scolded myself and promised to slow down my pace.
I had visited this fall earlier this summer.
I reached the waterfalls after about 40 minutes of hiking.  I took sometime at the bottom to appreciate the scene and snap some photos.  With this goal reached my anticipation  was now replaced with curiousity and some intrepidation.  From this point I would be bushwhacking across ground I hadn't been on before.

The forest was calm and the trees here were mixed with hemlock, pine, old birch, beech, and maple.  Mosses grew thick on the rock walls and trees.  This place has not been touched by to many people.  This was my kind of place I thought.  As I left the falls though and searched for a way up and around them, I stumbled upon an old wood trail.  Shoot.  I took solace in knowing it hadn't been used for quite some time.   It was still my kind of place.
This section of stream had an ice wall over 70m long.
I made it up and over the known falls and quickly found a long side slope ice wall.  It was a spiritual place and I decided that it would make for a great lunch spot.  I quickly hung my hammock (in a manner that would let me view the ice wall and waterfall), started a fire, and prepped my tea pot and grilled cheese sandwich.  Don't judge me, I love grilled cheese when I'm out in the woods.  I set up my grill to put my pot and pan on and in no time the smell of steeped tea was wafting through the air.  Honestly, I could have simply stayed there the rest of the day.  My curiousity beckoned though and I quickly packed up and headed on.
Looks like a great lunch to me.

Now I was going to cross over the ridge and into another small stream.  The climb up the last bit of the hill was steep but not near as steep as the drop down into the next valley.  Somewhere in between I managed to lose my brand new North Face gloves...DANG.  Oh well.  There was no way I was going back for them.

This next valley had two tributaries I would explore but first I had to navigate down the steep terrain before I could walk up stream to where I anticipated the falls and walls would be.  After some slipping and sliding I made it to the valley bottom.  I looked back up at the slope and took a couple of photos but they did no justice to the terrain.

The stream would break off in two directions a short distance up and it was here where the lines on my topo map were tight and it was here that I wanted to go.  I took a drink of water and then dropped my gear before heading up the icy ravine.  To get out I would have to go back by here.  In no more than 200m the valley narrowed and I could feel a chill from the ice walls as they got closer.  The first trib was a cirque and was an impressive spot.  My smile could near touch eaxh side of the valley as I climbed as high as I dared.
I was all warm smiles in this cold cirque. 

The second trib had less ice as it was more south facing and a longer straight rock wall and less of a cirque.  It had a long cascading waterfall.  The water dropping off the top kept the rock exposed and the dark green moss was a beautiful contrast to the bluish white ice.  I felt small in this place yet it was only a small fragment of this wonderful Province.
The dark water line was a cool contrast.


As I returned to my pack I turned and looked back up the ravine one last time.  It is always a bitter feeling when I leave places like this.  I still had a long hike back to my vehicle but once I moved down stream a kilometer or so, Google maps showed a cut line I could follow back towards the road.  Good thing because I was starting to get short in daylight.  

I hope you get outside soon and push into new areas off the beaten path.

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