Thursday, 5 September 2013

Going Up Grotto Canyon

My friend Monty has a visitor coming who likes hiking but can't go too far. On Monday of the long weekend, we decided to try out two short trails to see if she if she would be up to them. One I wrote about earlier, Troll Falls, is fine.

The other, Grotto Canyon, is always of interest to locals. It's a popular short walk through a slot canyon past petroglyphs to rock and (in the winter) ice climbng areas.

Well, if you have been there before you won't really recognize the place. The trail has always been in the canyon, but the canyon hasn't always been filled with boulders, and in fact, it used to have a tree or two in it.
Looking back from the entrance to the canyon at the flood damage 
Inside the canyon
That never used to be there
The short section of the canyon prior to the waterfall -- the most popular section with day use folks and climbers -- has been scoured. Like Heart Creek, the creek is in different places. Climbs now start over water. Pitons now sit at knee level, as gravel created banks that never existed before.

The T junction by the waterfall hasn't changed, and the two weeping walls that form winter ice climbs remain fine.
I think they're called His and Hers
Most day wanderers don't go past here, but we did. The canyon turns left, through an even tighter rock slot that used to be interesting walking but is now just filled with rubble.
The first part of the slot
Just to give you an idea of how deep the water was in here during the flood, there are banks of leftover gravel that are 8+ feet deep.
One bank. Karen for scale.
A short section of tight slot canyon, and you used to break out into a wide flat valley with lovely dryas/aven mats, pretty flowers and pleasant walking on a nice trail. All that is gone. The valley is now wall to wall boulders, with the odd mess of fallen trees thrown in for variety. There is no trail; you just pick your way through the debris.
Trail? What trail?
A log jamb
There have always been hoodoos back there, one of which held a rather large circular shallow cave. That cave is still there, but circular it is no longer, having partially collapsed.
The cave. The wall below it has eroded substantially 
The thing that fell in the cave
We didn't go past the cave, and in fact, I rarely go past the cave. The valley of rubble without a trail continues, but we never do, even when there was a pleasant trail.

There are still bits of forest on small sections of the 10' tall creek banks that were not eroded. They hold illegal campsites. We found at least 2.
A chair and firepit. 
A campsite built for 20
I used to like hanging out in the upper canyon. The dryas was pretty in the fall. I doubt we'll spend much time back there any more.

1 comment:

Ron said...

I share your sorrow on the state of the upper canyon. On the other hand, it will be interesting to pop back a couple of times per year to witness the succession process and to see how fast the place can repair itself.