Friday, May 16, 2014

Grotto Canyon

It had been quite a long time since I had a good hike but I certainly did not want to start a strenuous one today so I picked one that I had already studied and gathered its information: Grotto Canyon. The main challenge as usual was finding the trail and trail-head and not getting lost after that! So I headed west on TransCanada Highway and turned to Bow valley Trail after a few ten kilometers. The trail-head, according to the information I had gathered was supposed to start in a parking lot adjacent to Grotto Pond but I passed the pond and saw nothing! At the same time I had extreme pressure, sorry to say this, from the salad I had had last night at about 10:05 PM. My breakfast was only a McDonald's coffee. I was thinking what to do all of a sudden found a portable toilet by the road. I made myself relief and then then made a u-turn. I told myself: Whatever it is, it should be around that pond. So I pulled into the parking lot and there it was; Grotto Canyon Trail! I hit the path at exactly 10:00 AM and the hike was a bit of disturbance for the first half an hour because of the irritating noise from the nearby ore processing plant, Bymag. By the time I reached the stream and canyon the noise started fading and was replaced by beautiful sound of the stream and occasional bird songs. The water level was not high so I could easily leap or jump over the rocks and find my way. I realized there were also paths at both sides of the canyon which I could have taken them and from there look down the scenery but decided to be in the river's bed. The path is beautiful and luckily there was no soul in the entire time. I just was by myself enjoying the nature. The only dark part of the hike was the nail I saw rock climbers had put in the walls of canyon. That is not so cool but I also I understand they enjoy that activity.  
I finally reached a some sort of wall that water was dripping down from it and it was beautiful. Looking at my right side there was a path going a bit up on a ice and snow. I decided to check that out and put my anti-slip soles on. I walked up the snowy path and the sound was telling me there was a waterfall under the accumulated snow and ice! I got around and was able to see the actual waterfall under the ice! So beautiful. I assume it is a year-round waterfall and is called Grotto Waterfall but I could be wrong too. 
Grotto Waterfall
Now I can understand why some people like to do this hike in the winter. It will be amazing to walk on a sheet of ice and look around the canyon. I will so this in the winter and now that I know how to get there, it will be easy. The rest of the hike continues in the path until you reach a vast area covered with rocks and looks like a river which has recently hit by drought. The signs of last years flood can be see here. All sorts of branches and trunks. That's where you are supposed to see the sandy little hill with the cave inside. The cave opening could be easily seen but also it was obvious that everything had recently been damaged by the flood. Looking form a little closer I think I saw the cave is destroyed in a way that you could not get in. Only the opening is left. Nevertheless I was too tired to climb up and check that out closely. That was due to lack of recent activity which had been caused by a damn Gout Attack. The one which has not left me completely and I'm afraid it will be direct impact in my future hiking and Ice Skating. I will write about that later. 
After seeing the sandy hill and its cave I only took a few more steps to north and decided to go back. I encounter a few guys on the way back and there were also a small group of three teenage boys who were trying to learn Rock Climbing by looking at the books and trying the available carabiners. 
Then a few minutes later I realized a leash and water bottle on the ground beside the stream and look around and there was nobody. I touched none of them and continued on walking until I saw a guy with a dog coming toward me. For a second I though it was The Screamer and I tried to recognize him! I still had doubts but I have not gone to the point to start making excuses! When I got closer and he rose his hand as a hello sign, I realized that was not him. I guess he was wondering why I had my eyes glued on him and although we both were wearing dark sunglasses and could not see each others eyes, it was obvious. 
I reached the parking lot at about 12:30 PM and that made the hike an approximately 02:30 hours. At the end I have to say it was a nice hike and a very easy one and it must definitely be done in winter again and whether it is being done in winter or summer it should be done on an easy day because the trail is narrow and does not have capacity for many people. Too many people on the trail at the same time not only causes damages but also deteriorate the quality of hike.
(Photo, top: Grotto Canyon's stream or river, if that's what you like to call it, has a different colour compare to other streams that I have seen so far but that could be because of the sandy beds that the water is passing through, maybe)

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