(This last photo below was taken later in the day when the weather started to close in again. I'm pretty sure that's Mount Terry Fox here. Apparently, the views are amazing and their is a great trail to the summit which I would absolutely LOVE to do in the future.)
The sunny skies also ensured I'd wouldn't be eaten alive by mosquitos during my much-anticipated visit to Cranberry Marsh. The marsh actually began as a lake which was partially drained when the railway was routed to the east of town. Thankfully, wiser heads have prevailed and the RW Starratt Wildlife Refuge was created out of land mostly donated by a prominent community member and former bush pilot, RW Starratt upon his death in 1971. A 6 km trail takes you around the marsh. No steep climbs this time but a few mosquitos to deal with. But then, it IS a marsh. Valemount is surrounded by no less than three mountain ranges, the Rockies to the east, the Cariboo Range to the west and the Monashees to the south. On a clear day, the backdrop is quite stunning.
Canoe Mountain, marking the northern-most point of the Monashee Mountains, is very prominent to the south of the marsh.
There really IS a small family of American Coots in there somewhere, I promise.
I love this view and I could have stayed there all day. I'm sure I spent well over an hour on the dyke that runs along the west side.
Along the south side of the marsh I crossed a small bridge and soon passed the remains of an early homestead constructed in 1927 by one Eric Swanson. A foundation and a wooden outbuilding are pretty much all that remain today.
Eventually, I worked my way around to the west side of the marsh to a road which I took back to town. Along the way, I passed the canoe launch. The photos just don't do it justice. It was absolutely gorgeous. A wide-angle lens would have been a big help. If you canoe at all, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more scenic put-in.
Spot the deer?
Spot the ground squirrel?
Because I love to do things backwards for some reason, I ended my second day by visiting the short trail behind the Visitor's Centre that I had initially planned to do the day before.
Valemount Visitor's Centre
A short 0.6km stroll (a walk in the park compared to the previous day-and-a-half) takes you to a salmon spawning ground. Along the way I passed this really strange grass on both sides of the path which imparted a very odd visual effect that I'm not sure I quite captured with the camera.
At the end of this short trail I found a salmon viewing platform, a great vantage point from what I've been told once the salmon begin to arrive here in late July.
This isn't the viewing platform but a small bridge over the creek. Considering Highway 5 passed over the creek right behind me it was fairly serene.
(Swift Creek with Mount McKirdy in the background)
From the salmon viewing platform I followed a path under the highway and along the creek, eventually ending up at the small rapid where I had started my hike the previous morning.
So my little adventure came full circle though I hadn't really planned it out. It is kind of nice though to take a mini-vacation, refresh the senses and just have your legs take you where they will. All in all, I enjoyed my time in Valemount immensely. With a bit of luck I'll make it back before fall to see the salmon run.