I came across Valemount as a birding destination pretty much by accident but what a happy accident it was. I've long wanted to do some bird watching in the Rockies and while Jasper and Banff are wonderful places, I was looking for somewhere a little less crowded and less pricey during the summer months. I don't exactly recall how I came across the community or when, but it fit the bill. Nestled among three mountain ranges in the southern Robson Valley, the scenery is fantastic and I'm a bit surprised that more people don't live there. I certainly crammed a lot in to my two days there and of course took plenty of photographs so I've decided to break my trip down in to a few posts.
The only hiccup occurred upon my arrival as my bus dropped me off at the depot at 6 am. Check-in at my hotel wasn't until 3pm so rather than book in early and sleep as I suspect most normal people would do after a 14-hour bus ride, I elected instead to start exploring. I had a couple trails in mind when I planned my trip and I didn't intend to jump in right away but.....
I followed this rushing creek, known as Swift Creek for about a kilometre until I came to these cement barriers.
At this point, I seriously considered turning around and returning later in the day but just to the left of these barriers I saw that the trail continued up the embankment so I thought, heck, I've come this far. Why not head up for a peak?
As you can tell it was still rather overcast at that time of the morning but the view that I did manage still impressed.
As I expected, I encountered much more debris the further upstream I went.
At roughly the halfway point, the creek narrows and enters a tight valley. I crossed this recently rebuilt suspension bridge...
...and took in the power of the water...
After crossing the bridge, I dropped down into a 300-year-old cedar forest. I only regret that I took so few photos through this section but I began to encounter pretty sloppy trail conditions with a great deal of mud, forcing me to mind my footing and perform a hiker's version of a "grand jete" on a couple of occasions.
After a fumble in the mud, I eventually emerged back out on to a dirt road which I followed back to the town. I just wish the weather would have cooperated a bit more but the view was still somewhat decent.
At one point I ended up following the road through a gate and feared I had entered private property. But perhaps not.....
As it turns out the road just skirted a couple of houses and I didn't have to worry about breaking one of my cardinal rules of hiking. Exhilarated, if a bit foot sore, I was soon back in to town. It was only mid-morning at this point, by which I had already completed an 11 km hike. It was nice to see the old legs can still put it off.
One of my great finds happened to be this locally-run bakery. Their pastries are amazing. It had started to rain a little bit at this point so a hot coffee and an apple turnover sure hit the spot.
This is one of the first places to open and seemed quite popular with the local crowd but I also saw several other tourists like myself buying pastries by the bag load. It provided an opportunity to get out of the rain and rest my legs.
My hiking fix having been sated, I was soon to indulge in a little local history and some bird-watching.