I saw Horseshoe Canyon first time back in 2003 on my way to Drumheller. Just took one or two photos and passed. Today I had a short hike in there after 12 years! My original plan was to go to Banff National Park and hike to Bourgeau Lake but The Chef canceled his plan and I had to drive The Lady to work so by the time I was free, it was too late to make to the park, do the hike and come back to the city to pick her up. I am tired of city parks and a miserable rain has been falling down since the morning so I decided to take my chances in Highway 9 and Horseshoe Canyon. It was raining heavily all the way to the destination and when I reached there I noticed the differences. They have put up signs and there's washrooms and information. The parking lot is prepared and there's even an overload parking space. I parked and there were already a few cars parked. Some were just taking photos and some were trying to get down the canyon.
I had my runners on but my hiking boots were in the trunk. I tried going down the hill but I slip and fell! I twisted my waist and it felt really painful. I realized why a few people I saw when I parked were covered in mud. It was a messy, miserable, muddy trail! I walked up with difficulty and went back to the car to grab my hiking stick and change my shoes.
Walking down the hill was still not easy and I feel again and again and landed in mud at least three times until I balanced myself eventually. I realized that the rocks are covered in mud with a thickness of half inch or a little more and it was very sticky. I had mud all over my hands and some on the camera bag too but I had to keep going!
There were only a small party ahead of me and the rest of the visitors just took their chances by looking from the top and taking photos.
It got a bit better when I went forward and followed the trail but was looking for a stream to at least wash my hands and wipe off the mud. I heard water was dripping after a few minutes and went down. There was a Chocolate Milk colour stream but it was better than nothing! At least I didn't have to drink it. The canyon was really nice and wild flowers of different kinds were seen alongside the trail. I was hoping to see some species especially because I saw footprints but saw nothing but different singing birds and a few rodents.
|This little beautiful blue bird had captured a bug or maybe a worm and was trying to eat it when I shot this and having no zoom lens I could not get closer but this still shows the beauty of the place as well as the bird's|
I finally saw the party I had seen earlier. They were getting ready to go back. I looked that they had taken a rest where I met with them and I realized a gorge like deep stream beside the spot which had made them not going forward. I jumped over the stream and continued on the fading path and that was when rain started again. I had left my rain jacket in the car because it was making me very hot but the rain didn't bother at all. It was kind of nice. The vegetation was really nice at this part with different greens on different trees of early May. This month is not generally a good month for hiking particularly if you want to hike in an open space such as Horseshoe Canyon. The rain disturbs you not because you get socked. It is because that it make the paths impassable. We had the similar situation in eastern British Columbia last year. It was raining so much and everywhere we wanted to go, I remember in Field, we were told that we would need a 4x4 and it would be really muddy! I knew all that but I certainly didn't want to stay at home so I went there.
|Different greens colours of different trees make Horseshoe Canyon a very pleasing place to the eyes in May|
It was getting late and I knew I had to go back to the city. Considering the rain, the muddy and slippery path and the possibility of getting lost, I decided to turn around and go back to the car. I always leave a little room for photography on my way back because on the way I spot the opportunities and on return I shot them but this does not work all the time especially in mountains because when you are ascending the lighting is different from the time of descending. It is lighter generally when you're going back down but it also depends on the mountain's position towards sun.
Anyway I got a little distracted - as usual - on the way back but I found the way and reached myself up the hill and got to the car. I had to put my rain-jacket on the seat in order to be able to drive because my bottom was covered in mud. The rain again started while going back to the city but it was a nice drive back. Regardless of the mud I guess going to Horseshoe Canyon in May is not such a bad idea because in June and July it becomes too dry and too hot. At least in mountains you get the breath and streams. There won't be any of those in here. There's no map for the canyon but I don't think I was too far away from the end.
(Photo, top: Hills and rock are covered in dust and when it rains it turns to mud and covers them and makes it almost impossible to walk on but they look different and nice. Same scenes could be seen in Dinosaur Provincial Park. In fact if someone sees Horseshoe Canyon, he or she would not see much difference in Dinosaur Provincial Park. in that park you can see Hoodoos in addition to this type of rocks. Plus you get the chance to go to Red Deer River for Canoe and Kayaking, if the bugs let you!)