I’ve been coming out here for decades and it’s never less than lovely no matter what the season but if you want to beat the crowds - and this little place can get pretty crowded - winter is the time to be here.
Especially on a day like this.
There was a chinook coming in, the westerly wind gnawing away at the bitter cold we’ve endured for the last few weeks, but the warmth it promised hadn’t quite made it to the ground yet. Out in the open the wind was vicious, biting like a puppy that hasn’t quite learned not to play so rough.
But tucked into the narrow valley where the creek runs through, the tall spruce and poplars blunted the wind’s teeth. The heavier gusts still made it through and every once in a while a scattering of snow torn from the hillsides above would sift down but for the most part, the valley kept the wind at bay.
I had the place to myself. There were a couple of people there for a hike when I first arrived but they had gone by the time I packed up my cameras and started to walk. The only sounds were the water, the wind, a squirrel - there’s always a squirrel - and the crunch of my cleats on the icy snow.
Most people come here to either picnic or walk the trail up the valley and onto the benchland above. Me, I come here for the ice.
Because the creek bubbles up from the ground just a couple of hundred metres up the valley, it still flows at roughly the same relatively warm temperature as it had when it exited the earth. It cools, of course, as it runs along but while its in the park, it flows free.
And as it flows, it tumbles and splashes over the ridges of rocky tufa the creek itself has formed, the dissolved minerals carried in its flow accumulating where the water swirls and eddies or flows around debris that has fallen into the stream. A wall of tufa has formed, for instance, about halfway up the valley, the petrified remains of a beaver dam that blocked the flow maybe a thousand years or more ago.