The reason I mention my mobility issue is to emphasize the ease of a hike I challenged myself to a couple of weeks ago, Siffleur Falls located in my favorite mountain region, David Thompson Country. I had done this hike years ago and knew that it would be a suitable trail to test my stamina on. Siffleur Falls is located on the David Thompson Highway (hwy. 11), about 200 kms. West of Rocky Mt. House. This popular trek is suitable for all levels of hikers, including families with young children. The trail is flat most of the way with a bit of a steep climb when you get closer to the falls. Not a deal breaker, even for me. The trail is not well marked by signage and there are a few side trails that go to – I don’t know where, but if you stay on the main path, you’ll make it in and out with no problem.
I trekked to the falls viewpoint which is approximately a 10 km., round trip. At the falls, there are three viewing decks with guard rails from which visitors get a great view of the chutes and falls and the neighboring topography. I was compelled to stop several times to shoot the striking scenes I spotted along the way. On another day, I would have continued to the other two sets of falls further down the trail, but I decided that I had pushed my abilities far enough for my first outing in a long time so headed back to the trail head. The trail is open year-round, and I hope to do a winter hike to the falls, which will be soon, I think.
Things to remember. Always carry bear spray when trekking anywhere into the bush. There was a sign warning of a bear in the area on the Siffleur Falls trail. I have even taken to carry my bear spray when stepping a few feet off the highway to photograph an interesting scene, and for a good reason which I’ll share here.
A few years ago, while traveling on the David Thompson highway, not far from the Siffleur Falls trail head, I spotted a scene that I wanted to photograph. It was a mountain scene beyond an area of burned trees in a clearing of hip high wildflowers and grass. I didn’t carry bear spray then, but I did have bear bangers. I considered taking them with me but decided that it wouldn’t be necessary as I was only going to be about fifty feet from my Jeep. So, I toddled through the ditch, walked into the field and set up my tripod. After about twenty minutes, I packed up and went back to my vehicle. When I looked back, I was surprised to see a small black bear pop its head up above the wildflowers, only a few feet from where I was standing. The little guy was probably scared crapless wondering what harm this two-legged creature was going to befall it. I then remembered seeing a big black bear and her two cubs in that same area the year before. I deduced the small bear looking back at me was one of those cubs recently liberated from its mother’s care, now a scary thought considering mom might still be around. In the safety of my vehicle, that thinking was quickly replaced by the new scene that presented itself. The little black bear popping its head just over the wildflowers would have been an awesome shot. The problem. At that time, I only had one camera body and it had the wrong lens attached to get the shot. In my haste to change to the proper lens, the little bear had begun walking towards my Jeep. Before I could do the lens change, the bear had made it through the ditch and brushed the bumper of my Jeep as it sauntered into the bush on the opposite side of the road. Albeit a cool experience, it instilled in me not to be complacent when visiting their (all wildlife) domain.
I know that experienced hikers are mindful of the need to pack properly, even for a day hike. About half-way to the falls, it appeared that I might be caught in a thunderstorm. I even considered turning back but decided to keep on going. Luckily, the storm held off. Packing appropriate clothing for all weather conditions is always something to keep in mind. And, carry water and snacks. A couple of energy bars helped me get through the day.
If you are just getting back into hiking or you are planning your first venture into the wilds of Alberta, the Siffleur Falls hike is the ideal trek for you. There are many campsites in the area and off-road camping is allowed. There are some great camping spots right on the Saskatchewan River, but you need to know where to pull off the highway to get to them. The shore of Abraham Lake is always dotted with tents and small trailers. Nordegg is the closest town where you can get camping supplies, fuel etc. or you could drive to the end of highway 11 to the Saskatchewan Crossing. It’s all good. Be safe and enjoy David Thompson Country.