Rocky River

Coronet Creek to Rocky River Headwaters and Beyond

Rocky River Headwaters
Rocky River Head­wa­ters

I have been hik­ing cross coun­try in the Cana­di­an Rock­ies for quite some time, going places and see­ing things which I think rel­a­tive­ly few peo­ple do. This par­tic­u­lar out­ing was cho­sen for its remote­ness and well .… it looked like it could be done after plot­ting out the route on the topo maps. Of course the maps don’t show every­thing, it would be guess­work until I was actu­al­ly out in the field. So after the near­ly ill fat­ed cross­ing of a name­less pass con­nect­ing Maligne Pass with the Coro­net Creek Head­wa­ters (the pack had to be low­ered with some stur­dy cord through a small water­fall near the bot­tom of the descent), it was all down­hill on a very good trail to Coro­net Creek Camp­ground. I couldn’t believe all the peo­ple who came here by boat.heee heee.

Any­way it was a gor­geous place right near the very end of Maligne Lake. The­se were the last bits of civ­i­liza­tion I’d be see­ing for sev­er­al days, then it was off into the total unknown, War­ren Creek Valley.(I do believe that’s what its called). The way was open, wild and glo­ri­ous, a light breeze blow­ing from the upper val­ley, the tell­tale scent of the Rock­ies’ pristine forests filled the air. The open creek­side flats soon gave way to rolling forest­ed bush­whack­ing along its banks, the odd bit of game trail here and there mak­ing the task a lit­tle eas­ier. I’d clap my hands loud­ly from time to time or just yell, in case some wildlife up ahead might be unaware of my pres­ence.

The going became instant­ly more rugged as the slope steep­ened and became filled with gigan­tic boul­ders, secure­ly? embed­ded into some low moss like growth. I wound my way through a maze of the­se, and it was seem­ing­ly end­less until into view up ahead came a glimpse of what was the come. A tree­less moon­scape spread in all direc­tions, bleak rub­ble filled glac­i­ers spilling down from the Brazeau Ice­field to the south. After spend­ing sev­er­al hours of scram­bling aim­less­ly amid­st the moon­scape I descend­ed to find a nice lit­tle camp­site pro­tect­ed by the last of the trees sit­u­at­ed atop some old moraine and rock­slide debris. Much bet­ter than it sounds. The creek roared through a nar­row chasm about 10 metres down a steep scree slope below.

Rocky River Headwaters
Rocky River Head­wa­ters

Sor­ry, did I for­get to men­tion that I was absolute­ly on my own. Most of my trips are solo ones, either out of choice, or I can’t find any­body to come along once I men­tion that there won’t be any trail. The route I had planned would involve tra­vers­ing the enor­mous moon­scape ahead and hope­ful­ly gain­ing access to anoth­er water­shed via a high col, which I affec­tion­ate­ly call Moon­scape Col. Its ele­va­tion was about 2700 m. I hiked 3 hours one way to get to the col, and … it went. Now all I had to do was go back to camp and get my stuff.

You didn’t think I would drag all that up there and then pos­si­bly find that there was an impos­si­ble cliff did you? The main dif­fi­cul­ties were the rows of slop­ing ridges of moraine pour­ing forth from the cen­tral heaps of rocky waste­land. So it was basi­cal­ly up and down and at a fair­ly steep angle. Good exer­cise for the ankles. Yeah. A cou­ple of glacial creek cross­ings were also nec­es­sary but the­se were easy. After much effort I was up at Moon­scape Col with my gear, try­ing to remain erect with­out being blown through the gap by the ter­ri­fic winds present there. An obvi­ous glacial­ly carved val­ley lay ahead and in it .… noth­ing but rub­ble. Far far ahead and below lay an aqua gem of a lake, my turn­ing off point to gain access to Rocky River Pass. Actu­al­ly, I don’t know if it has an offi­cial name. Sev­er­al hours of mind­less trudg­ing brought me next to the lake and the won­drous descent of its creek through majes­tic lit­tle lake filled amphithe­atres, each mead­ow rimmed and fairy­tale like. I thought… nobody comes here and I was glad.

Rocky River Headwaters
War­ren Creek — Camp­ing Spot

The descent to mead­ow­lands and tree line was a breeze, and after ford­ing the creek took shel­ter under some trees to wait out a sud­den, cold down­pour. The sun returned and a rain­bow spread its glo­ry upon the low­er val­ley. After much clam­ber­ing about, the sim­ply enor­mous pass was reached, a herd of bighorn sheep eye­ing me sus­pi­cious­ly before bolt­ing to some safer van­tage point. To the east, a small por­tion of South­east Lake was vis­i­ble. The pass was very windy and cold, and a good trail came into use after sev­er­al hours of hik­ing. It led me past more glo­ri­ous mead­ows and lakes to final­ly descend the Rocky River to its main val­ley, past the con­flu­ence with the Med­i­cine Tent. Sev­er­al more days of trail hik­ing along the South Bound­ary Trail even­tu­al­ly end­ed at Jacques Lake. Whew.

Rocky River Headwaters
Sto­ry and Pho­tos sub­mit­ted by: John Boehm

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