Friday, July 16, 2004

Beauty Creek, AB - Canada

A 25 minute hike up from the highway. Joey Vosburgh, Jordie MacKenzie, Dave Manning and Mark Basso gear up on Beauty Creek in Jasper National Park.

Beauty Creek lies hidden along the endless chain ridges which parallel the Sunwapta river near its headwaters in Jasper National Park. Fortunately this long mountain corridor between Banff and Jasper National Park also contains the main highway 93 which by summer months, offers easy access to the beautiful scenery and receives many visiting travelers. It is also during these long-awaited days in late June when kayakers begin to pass along the road in search of some excellent paddling runs in the Central Canadian Rockies. Although the runoff window for Beauty Creek is small, there are now annual visits to this short but intense alpine creek consisting of 8 major waterfalls and slides, 6 of which have been run.

25 ' Lumbarsis creates drop number two on the run.

Beauty Creek was probably first explored by known paddler Stuart Smith back in his days as a local Jasper raft guide. During these long Summer months more than a decade ago, Stuart made valiant attempts seeking out rivers in the Central and Southern Rockies. Since those days, local and foreign paddlers alike now use his guidebooks as a popular source of paddling information for over 200 river runs in B.C and Alberta. A while back Eric Link and the Twitch crew paddled Beauty Creek with extremely low flows, breaking a couple of boats on the way down. Check out 2002's Twitch TV for some good scenes.

Slanted slopes of the Endless Ridge Chain found near Beauty Creek in Jasper National Park. Posted by Hello

From the heart of Banff National Park, the scenic Banff - Jasper Icefields Parkway (route 93) begins in Lake Louise. From Lake Louise it is a 120km drive until you reach the Sunwapta Pass and begin a northerly decent past the Athabasca Glacier and Columbia Icefield Center. About 15km from the Icefields Center, a flat valley opens up and and it is time to start looking for a marked pullout and a small meandering stream running along the right side of the road. If you are coming from Jasper, drive south 90km and look for the run on the left side of the road. Although deceiving, you should be able to locate a mini gorge upstream where the gravel plain meets the trees. Follow the flat part of the creek east from the highway to the treeline and at this point the hiking trail will start to parallel the river right shore.

Dave Manning looking over the brink of the fourth drop on Beauty Creek. Posted by Hello

After only a few minutes of hiking, the sound and appearance of the creek changes dramatically as a tight box canyon churns down below. Here the rapids will begin to appear one after another for you to assess on your way up the inclined trail. Look for the put-in slide which begins just upstream of the highest runnable fall, Lumbarsis. A trail branches down from here for easy access. Just upstream looms giant Stanley Falls, also worth a look even if only for the magnificent views.

A meandering Sunwapta river and the takeout of Beauty Creek at sunset.

Vis Beauty Creek (IV-V) i et større kart