Monday, 2 September 2013

Post-Mortem of a Prematurely Ended Kids Hike: Why We Didn't Get Very Far Up McGillivray Canyon

Just before the turn-around point.

In January, I went through the 3 Ds of how I pick a kid-friendly trail:
  • Discovery--The realization that I'd found something that could be a good trail for kids.
  • Due Diligence--Researching the trail for hazards and anything else I missed that might rule out the trail for kids.
  • Decision--Whether the trail is suitable for kids or not. 
The approach through the trees
Last January, I thought I'd found the perfect kid-friendly trail in McGillivray Canyon. It was a tight canyon with lots of fun twists and turns, chains and ladders to climb up, and a big choke stone at the top to marvel at. The question was: Would what I saw as Indiana Jones and the McGillivray Choke Stone turn out to be a kid-size remake of 127 Hours?

My biggest worry was that the pools of water that were frozen in January would be too deep in the summer. In fact, that turned out to be the case when Mack, Michael and I tried McGillivray Canyon today. Although helmets aren't strictly necessary on this trail, we all put on our hard tops as a matter of principle. Safety is a habit, and I want to instill that habit in my sons. Then, before we even reached the canyon, we had to deal with a hazard that wasn't there when I'd done the trail in January: massive log jams that had been swept down the canyon and deposited in the stream bed by the floods in June.

Navigating the results of the June flood
After navigating through the dead fall to the mouth of the canyon, we made it either around or across the first few pools. But after only a few hundred meters we were stopped by a deep pool the width of the entire canyon, which was about a meter at that point. A couple meters up on the right was a cable strung the length of the pool that we could have used to get around the water, but the boys would have had to hold the cable and lean back over the pool to press their feet into the steep rock wall. They weren't too keen on that, and I wasn't about to make them, so we headed back.

That's when I noticed how well they were hopping
Having fun in the canyon
across the boulders that lined the bottom of the canyon. All the outdoor stuff their crazy dad took them on was having an effect! So I commended them on how well they did to get as far as we had, and casually described how the pools were frozen in the winter and you could just walk over them. "We should come back in the winter," Mack said. Then Michael added, "Yeah, I want to find the ladders you have climb up."

That's my outdoor family!

Hopping over one of the first pools
The pool that stopped us. You can just see the cable in the upper right.
The traditional post-hike ice cream cone in Canmore makes up for everything.


  1. Replies
    1. It's an amazing little canyon, and I've penciled it in for January.

  2. I removed what was left of the cables after the flood. A massive tree is stuck at the location of the second cable making the canyon impassable now. Much damage further on also and a lot of dangerous unstable rock. (posted by the guy who refitted the canyon in 2008)

    1. Ken, thanks for the great post.

      Peter, I tried to find the canyon last weekend but the flood had washed out the trail. When I reached the creek bed, I went left, there were lots of fallen trees which made it difficult to go around. I continued but didn't see the entrance to the canyon. Do you have directions or markers that could help me?

      Did I go in the right direction? Is the canyon still impassable now?



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...