It was a beautiful Friday morning and the rain was holding off for a change. Pascal had returned to stay, and there was hope of drier expeditions than the stormy one he had last time. There were also new arrivals at Rocky Mountain Escape, Monica and Dave. Dave and Pascal were up for a long hike, so Laura decided that the Rock Creek hike would be accessible and, with no mosquitoes, it would be a pleasurable hike.
Susan was excited as this would be a new route for her; however, the excitement that was to come was more than what she was expecting. There were new views, old forests, bear tracks and scat, plus a vertical hill climb and bush whacking. Laura had done her best to make this hike interesting!
So Laura, Susan, Pascal, Dave, Leo and Molly all set off from the Willmore staging area following the Willow Creek trail and took a leisurely stroll through the forests out on to a superb viewpoint over the beaver ponds. No one saw any beavers but Leo started to whine and cling to Laura’s legs and, as everyone walked down the trail, they happened upon the reason for Leo’s odd behaviour. It was the first evidence of bear! Laura searched for some time and then she eventually found the foot prints of the black bear that had been walking down the trail towards the group. Thankfully, the wild black bear had moved away when hearing the group coming and only Leo had known he was there.
The trail went down and up over a little creek and came out in to a lovely old part of the forest: a pocket of Old Growth with landscape similar to something out of ‘Lord of the Rings’.
The forest floor was a sea of moss with many different types of mushroom. This is where Susan spotted her first purple mushroom which she thought to be the best and most unusual colour for a mushroom.
Laura led the party through the edge of the Willmore into Jasper National Park where it got much more interesting for our intrepid guests. The valley floor had a marshy creek running right though it and with the wet summer it had remained boggy. The dogs must have thought the group were very odd climbing through bushes to remain on dry land when you can just walk through the wetland! However the group wished to keep their feet dry (which didn’t happen, by the way) and eventually got to the other side.
After another half an hour or so, Laura was talking about a foot bridge across Rock Creek that may or may not be there with the flooding that has occurred.
When we reached Rock Creek Laura muttered “Where’s the creek gone?” There was no bridge and no creek where she expected it. The water had pushed up gravel and had deviated to a different part of the valley floor. It wasn’t far away and when the group reached it was too fast and deep to cross. This meant the end of the road and a well-earned lunch for all.
During lunch Laura spotted this caterpillar crawling on the gravel. It was fairly large and fat at about 4cm in length. The colours were vivid yellow with a blue stripe going down its back. We haven’t yet determined its name, but we will keep you posted.
With the group well fed and ready to start the return journey, Laura asked the group if we should try to skirt the bog via a little embankment over to our left. Susan was especially up for not getting wet and making the hike a little interesting. Ha, she was in for a surprise! The “little embankment” was 60ft of nearly vertical climbing! The climb was hard and required a little rest at the end; however, the reward was a spectacular view of the valley.
After climbing this great hill the idea of going down towards the trail only to come back up again was tiring to think about so Laura suggested finding an animal track following the hill sideways. The theory was there but the track wasn’t! This ended in Laura and the group squeezing themselves between dense trees. Oh joy! Poor Dave and Pascal were much taller than the girls so they had to squeeze through these really small gaps, but eventually they made it through to the Jasper Park border. YAY! The group decided to stick to the trails thereafter.
The weather changed and the clouds got heavier through the return journey but the group only caught a light misting of rain. They eventually arrived at the landing area just to see the black bear that had passed them on the hill happily eating more berries.