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Compression Cirque |Kananaskis|Powderface Trail Area

Compression Cirque |Kananaskis|Powderface Trail Area


Compression Cirque – The Backside of Compression Ridge.

Compression Cirque Hike - ragged peaks hiding up a dry waterfall creek bed

We were feeling a little cheeky today.   We wanted to do a hike off the beaten path, to some place the world had not found yet! (Or at least had not mapped!)  That’s when we decided to try a lesser known section in Kananaskis along the Powderface Trail.  We had driven about halfway up the Powderface Trail when we encountered a large bridge over Canyon Creek.  We could see up the river valley that there were a number of beautiful peaks just begging to be climbed.  So we parked along the creek bed just past the bridge.

Compression Cirque Hike - wide river valley of Canyon Creek

Walking South East up the river valley for about 2.5 Km, we marveled at how wide the creek bed was.  It must see some huge run-offs in spring!

Compression Cirque Hike- Canyon Creek river valley, lots of peaks to climb

Originally we had our sights set on a formidable cliff-face just below Mount Bryant on the North side of Canyon Creek.

Compression Cirque Hike - canyon creek and Mount Bryant in the distance

However, at about this point we spotted the remanence of an interesting dried up waterfall.  We stood and examined the smooth rock surfaces that this fast moving mountain creek had slowly carved over time.

Compression Cirque Hike bottom of dry waterfall

Compression Cirque Hike- dry creek bed

Looking back down the waterfall toward Canyon Creek

We were intrigued! Her twists and turns were enticing enough to make us forget about the far off cliff-face with its high meadow and begin to question if we could make it all the way to the top of the old waterfall.

Compression Cirque Hike- meandering waterfall path through the rocky gorge

Look back toward Canyon Creek.

Climbing leisurely, we admired the different nooks and crannies the wild torrents of water had etched into the rocky valley over time.

Compression Cirque Hike - Dry Waterfall

We continued to pick our way over rocks and boulders, wondering to ourselves if perhaps there was a lake at the top of this narrow gorge.

Compression Cirque Hike- dry waterfall creek bed

We even noticed that someone had actually been here before us and had tied little pink ribbons all the way up the squeezed waterway.

Compression Cirque Hike- Rocky creek bed

We were determined to see what was at the top!  Mindful of each step we plodded steadily up the dried creek bed until a set of startling peaks came into view. These had only been visible for a small window of time as we walked up the flats of Canyon Creek. But here they were, peaking up over the ravine’s steep mountainous shoulders! We were so close; it was as if we only had to reach out to touch them.

Compression Cirque Hike- view of Compression Ridge peaks

The farther we climbed the more awestruck we became.  All around us was evidence of a violent tectonic past. The mountain itself had been twisted, folded and compressed back onto itself. There are ancient veins of sediment tilted at steep angles and deep piles of scree from many years of erosion.   It was like standing in the presence of a battle-weary soldier, with every cruel scar exposed to the naked eye.

Compression Cirque Hike- Rock Bridge

Compression Cirque Hike-Sediment veins twisted upwards

Compression Cirque Hike- Tectonic Evidence

And yet, there is a stoic majesty in the mountains surrounding this regal little cirque.

Compression Cirque Hike- view from the bottom looking up at compression ridge

She sits on the backside of Compression Ridge, hidden within the arms of its jagged rugged peaks; waiting patiently for someone to come visit her. It was a stunning find, for a day that started off with a “Let’s see what the trail brings us” vibe.

That is why we are calling this hike the Compression Cirque Trail. And she is worth every rocky step!

Compression Cirque Hike- coming down the dry creek bed

    • Date of the Journey: August 16th 2016
    • Location: Kananaskis, Powderface Trail – Backside of Compression Ridge.
    • We Parked at:  Along the Powderface Trail.  Just past the bridge over Canyon Creek
    • Distance: 8.6  km round trip
    • Highest Point: 2071 m.
    • Height gain cumulative: 379 m
    • Things to watch for: Rocks! Be Careful. Take extra care rock hopping. This is NOT the place to roll an ankle!  Also we assume that in Spring, the mountain run-off would turn this trail into an unviable route.  Due simply to the massive amount of water that appears to flood this creek and Canyon Creek below.

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View of Moraine lakes deep blue colour from the rock pile

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