Elk River

April 09, 2016  •  1 Comment

I did a leisurely two hour walk along the Elk River Trail in Strathcona Park since the elevation gain is minimal and I wanted to check out the condition of the trail.

Some parts of the ground was so saturated with water that water was seeping out and running down the course of the trail in places. It was like hiking up a narrow creek bed. On the more level spots sat pools of water which I had to skirt by along the edges. The last thing I want is to have wet boots.

My boots leak badly due to the split soles which I glued together but they eventually fall apart so these boots are at their end of life. Quite disappointing since the boots only lasted about 3 years but I wore them for 2 more years since the summer was mostly dry.

A lot of the bushes have yet to green up. They still look like a mess of ugly tangled branches with only small green leaves sprouting. The forest is second growth as it was once logged in the past and there is a lot of debris scattered about from fallen trees and branches which have snapped off by the strong winds during the winter months. While some trees have snapped off with the roots intact others have toppled over at the base exposing the root system.

Debris & Boulders in the forest

On 5 separate occasions trees have toppled over and blocked the path. Most of the downed trees are easy to scramble over except a couple where they obliterated the trail. One particular tree which was about 17 feet in length lay on the trail and I couldn't see where the trail went so I had to head into the tangled bush and follow along the length of the tree. With a lot of branches sticking out here and there, it's not much fun getting poked. There appears to be a lot of dead or weak trees standing and are susceptible to the wind.

Typical forest scene from the aftermath of winter windstorms

In several places, creeks crossed the trail. These are normally dry during the summer but they are easily crossed because the flow rate and depth is low however a couple of them required me taking off my boots. This time, I wore water shoes which helped with traction but not with protecting my feet from the ice cold water. It's always a hassle stopping to dry the feet, then putting the boots on and only to discover another creek just up ahead.

Crossing a wet area

There are lots of moss covered boulders lying in the forest. A couple of them are really massive and one lay beside the trail so I took a video of myself to give some scale as to the size. The boulders most likely fell from the mountains along this steep sided valley. The mountains which line the valley are quite tall so it does take the morning sun a long time before it crests the ridge and lights up the valley bottom.

A massive boulder alongside the trail

There was a nice reflection on the beaver pond from lack of wind. I've never seen a beaver in this area before and this is no evidence of a beaver lodge so I don't know where it lives.

Approaching the beaver pond

At an open slide area where a small creek runs, I headed the short distance down to Elk River and scrambled along the narrow banks. The water level is so high that there wasn't much room to maneuver. Now is probably a good time to photograph the river however the submerged boulders don't appear that big so when the water level drops a bit the river appears more boulder filled.

Heading down a slide area to Elk River

Tree growing on top of a boulder

I encountered small patches of snow off to the sides further along the trail. I stopped at a footbridge over a noisy creek and headed off down to Elk River and found a place in the sun to enjoy lunch. I filtered cold water and I wish I had brought my stove to heat some up. The air was still a bit frigid from being near the cold water and in the shade of the valley. The sun had risen over the mountain ridge not long ago so it and hadn't warmed up the air enough so it would have been nice to drink hot water to warm me up.

Filtering water. The necessity of filtering water is to prevent giardia which is widespread in Strathcona Park. Giardia organisms cause severe diarrhea which leads to dehydration so a little precaution goes a long ways.

Relaxing by the river passing time can be relaxing but the constant noise of the river can be bothersome after a while. Every once in a while, I took a glance behind me to make sure no bears are sneaking up since I had food in the open and the noisy water prevented me from hearing any other noise.

Miniature rapids formed by submerged tree branches lying across the creek.

A creek in the forest where the footbridge crosses


I love reading about these hikes, looking at the great photos, and watching and listening to the sounds in the videos, just like being there!
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