Thursday, 5 March 2009

Hiking Trails - Tonquin Valley - Day 7

This is a continuation of the post from last week where the hike stopped at the Switchback campground in the Astoria River Valley on Old Horn Mountain.

Today’s final hike on the Astoria River Trail of about 13 km goes to the Mt. Edith Cavell parking lot to return to civilization.

[1-Switchback Campground - click to enlarge]


[3-Stream below Switchback Campground at top of cascades - click to enlarge]


About 100 m from the campground, the trail down Old Horn Mountain begins. Be prepared for approximately 15 very steep switchbacks.

[5-Coming down Old Horn Mountain]

[6-Peaks through the trees]

While in the forest it is a good idea to make extra noise to alert any bears in the area of your presence. The trail slowly loses elevation on the way down.

Down the trail about 5km farther is a packhorse rest stop.

[7-Traditional resting place for packhorses, hitching posts]

[8-Purple wildflowers]

[9 –Astoria River]

[10-Rear of Mt. Edith Cavell]

[11-– Old Horn Mountain from Astoria River Bridge]

[12– Chak Peak across Astoria Valley]

[13– Crossing Astoria River]

[14- Trail back with Throne Mountain in background]

From the bridge over Verdant Creek it is another 4km to Mt. Edit Cavell.

[15- Throne Mountain and Verdant Creek]

[16-Hikers crossing stream]

[17-Throne Mountain]

[18-Indian Paintbrush]

[19-Bull Moose near Lake Edith Cavell]

[20-Lake Edith Cavell and Mt. Edith Cavell, path through trees]

Mt Edith Cavell is 11,033 ft (3,363m) in height and was officially named in March 1916, five months after a British nurse was executed during World War I for assisting Allied prisoners to escape occupied Brussels.

In the summer (July) winter conditions and storms can leave up to a foot of snow on the highway, with deeper snow and colder conditions in the higher elevations. When hiking backcountry trails, a seasoned hiker will carry enough supplies and equipment for making an emergency bivouac should the need arise.

At Edith Cavell there is a wilderness hostel with limited comforts: no running water, no showers, and no flush toilets. There is purified water for cooking, a refrigerator, propane stove and lights. From October to May in the winter the road up to the hostel is closed as it is not plowed free of snow. Those wanting to use the facilities must ski, hike or snowshoe in from the highway, a distance of about 11 km. Hostel information can be found here:

Sources: ParksCanada =
Canada Natural Resources - The Atlas of Canada =

Photo Credits: [1][2][3][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][20]-brilang CC=nc-sa-flickr, [4]-purplejavatroll CC=Dnc-sa-flickr, [19]-vteen CC=nc-nd-flickr.


Teresa said...

These pictures are lovely, Barbara. I really like the pictures of the rushing mountain river. That log bridge looks dangerous when wet. And I did not realize moose could be seen in such densely forested habitat. I thought they were found more in grassy areas and by larger rivers.

Barbara Martin said...

Moose tend to live in woods near water: rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds. They will wade into fairly deep water to eat the water plants. I did a post November 10, 2008 which has a video of canoers out on a lake watching moose eat water plants. I thought they were daft for being so close. For the water to be over their shoulder humps it would be close to 6 and a half feet deep or more as a full grown bull moose is more than 7 foot at the shoulder.

Joshua said...

wow, more pictures putting the midwest to shame lol. I'm glad my toons where able to make ya laugh, I have alot of fun doing em.

Mihai A. said...

Very lovely pictures, Barbara. And thank you once again for another wonderful virtual trip :)

Gary's third pottery blog said...

then again, WHY would you want to return to civilization???

Reader Wil said...

This is great! Thank you for the tour! Your posts are interesting and informative. It must be wonderful to spend so much time in the wildernis.

Charles Gramlich said...

those wildflowers are such jewels in the rough. Beautiful.

Barbara Martin said...

Josh, I'm sure the midwest has lovely places to visit.

Mihai, thank you.

Gary, food would be my first necessity after running low. A hiker needs to carry food high in carbs and protein to keep up their energy. Trail mix nuts with currents, raisins or dried fruit, too. I have a muffin recipe I use when hiking that keep for a couple of days.

Barbara Martin said...

Wil, I haven't been in the wilderness for awhile, but I'm planning on a trip soon.

Charles, they make a nice diversion from all the green.

Steve Malley said...

We do have similar lovely vistas here in the Southern Alps, but no moose...


Raph G. Neckmann said...

I do so love seeing those high pointed mountains. I feel as if I have hiked there now - without sore feet and tiredness!

Shelley Munro said...

Beautiful. Your hiking posts always make me want to get outside in the great outdoors.

Anonymous said...

Great photos Barbara!!Do those moose just suddenly poke out as the photo suggests? Think I'd jump a mile high not being moose-familiar, especially if it were two feet taller than me.And then there's the bears...." Maybe a green -behind-the-ears Aussie would need a local as a security blanket.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Gracious, how beautiful. Those fir trees look like green people, each with his own personality.

Were you really that close to the Moose??

Barbara Martin said...

Steve, the photos are almost as good as being there.

Raph, when hiking in the mountains the exhaustion can almost be blissful. At least I have no trouble falling asleep. There's no need for sore feet if walking is done on a regular basis beforehand.

Shelley, exercise, fresh air and a change of environment is excellent for creativity. I find my writing improves after doing one of these nature posts.

Barbara Martin said...

Pam, if you're alert in the forest (as every hiker should be), then you will be aware of movement in the bush near you. It is always good to stop occasionally and take your bearings before continuing. This is why you make loud noise when you are in the forests or mountain areas, to give warning to the other creatures that you are there. It is never a good thing to surprise an animal as their reactions may be harmful to you. Moose are large enough that a wolf will not consider to go after it; a pack of wolves only if the moose is injured or weak in some manner, or a calf. But they're wary of momma mooose. Bears don't hunt moose as a rule, because there is easier game to be had.

If, by chance, you encounter a moose, stop, stand still and wait for it to meander away. You could walk backwards slowly to provide more personal space.

Barbara Martin said...

Pamela Terry, that particular moose? No, though I have been quite close to other wild moose, stood quietly while they looked at me before going on about their business. In the National Parks the moose and deer seem to know humans are no threat, but it is still necessary to be careful around any wild all are unpredictable.

I recall an incident, from my childhood while camping near Johnston Canyon, of a woman who was killed by an elk because she ran out of whatever she had been feeding it. They seem tame when they approach, but they're not and some people seem to foreget that.

J. L. Krueger said...

Another great travelog with breathtaking scenery.

Your comment about the daft canoers getting too close is sure right. Moose can be a tad ornery at times and their size guarantees a "hurtin' on you" if one riles them.

Barbara Martin said...

J.L., I read one account in Reader's Digest of a couple snowshoeing in Jasper who came upon a young moose who had fallen through the ice on a lake fairly close to shore. They managed to get him out without any injury to themselves, and had commented that the moose seemed to know they were trying to help it.

There is also a YouTube video of a similar incident that happened in Spokane, Washington a year or so ago. Here's the link:

The people who got the moose out were very aware of the potential danger and this should be a heads-up to hikers.

RuneE said...

A fascinating trail and beautifully described. Making noises to warn offbears? I read somewhere that silence was best.

Eleanor said...

The wildflowers are beautiful but the thought of bears is scary! The views are spectacular. I grew up in Cape Town and sent to Stellenbosch University amidst the majestic fold mountains of the Western Cape. I love moutains. I also love the sea but if I ever have the privilege of choosing (neither mountains or sea in Pretoria!), I shall choose mountains.

Ash said...

Lovely images!

Lois Karlin said...

Barbara, what a nature guide. And these photos draw you in...they're like windows into the woods. I lived in Edmonton for three years and took several trips to Jasper for X-country skiing, so some of this seems familiar. It was a long time ago, though, so I'll need to look on a map to see exactly where we went. What I do remember was skiing with my daughter in an infant backpack, papoose style. I'll keep watching your posts. I'm truly impressed.

Merisi said...

Another lovely reminder of the trails waiting for us once the snow thaws and summer enters the scene, thank you!

Would you consider to publish your trail mix muffin recipe, please?

I am happy when you find places you'll want to visit once to return to V. - I love those little hidden away spots.

Philip said...

Great post Barbara !! there are some really beautiful hiking trails in Canada I am very jelious :)

L.A. Mitchell said...

Beautiful hiking trails, Barbara. Makes me want to visit Canada in the summer:)

Barbara Martin said...

RuneE, making noise is what ParksCanada recommends. Some of the bears have had hard rubber bullets shot at them by the park wardens, so they relate those incidents with humans and tend to move away if they hear one coming. The Tonquin Valley is prime grizzly bear territory due to the caribou herds, with ParksCanada trying to keep human and bear encounters at a minimum. It is also recommended to go in hiking groups of six or more for safety.

By making noise it is preferable to let the bears know you are there rather than surprising them with potential harmful results.

Barbara Martin said...

Eleanor, if hikers are prepared bears often pose no problem. There is a bear spray to carry should a hiker be attacked, which is sprayed into the bear's eyes and face. It will stop them long enough, supposedly, for the hiker to get away. In an earlier hiking post to Mt Assiniboine I outlined its effects and use.

Barbara Martin said...

Ash, the photos provide a clear sense of the wilderness encountered.

Lois, welcome. I'm pleased the photos have the effect I intended, that by opening the window the reader is transcended into another world.

Barbara Martin said...

Merisi, there will be other trail posts forthcoming. I never tire of looking at photos of mountains and woods.

The trail mix muffin recipe is the Morning Glory Muffin recipe from the Robin Hood Flour website:

I modified the recipe, changing the oil to butter, reducing the amount used, using brown sugar and reducing the amount as well (I don't like overly sweet muffins), adding a tsp of ginger to increase the spice level. Then I purposely overmix before baking, knowing they will be tough. The small muffins fit easily into an air-tight container (tin), in turn fitted into a backpack. One is very satisfying and takes away hunger while providing the nutrients needed to keep up one's energy.

I understand people's concerns over the use of butter due to the fat content, but I prefer to eat butter rather than processed oil. Oranges, with their citric acid, will help to alleviate some of the butter's effect in the body. A couple of navel oranges tucked into a backpack make a nice treat a couple of days into the hike.

Barbara Martin said...

Philip, I'm glad you like the trails. Currently, I'm putting together a later post for the east coast for those who like to watch the ocean.

L.A., it will be cooler here than Texas in the summer.

Cloudia said...

Truly awe inspiring post!!!!
Astoria River Trail - amazing that Astor's gilded wealth came from nature's truer riches.
Thank you, Barbara, for the windows you open for us in your blog - and in your welcome comments on our own. aloha-

Jenn Jilks said...

I love all the green, Barbara. We have been living in such a sea of white for many moons.

Reb said...

Barbara, don't you know you are supposed to keep quiet about the trails? We have to keep them to ourselves ;)

Seriously, beautiful post and I love the photos you posted. I have to get back in shape before I try that kind of trail though.

Barbara Martin said...

Cloudia, without the healthy green environment all life would perish.

Jenn, perhaps only another moon, at the most, two moons.

Reb, I picked this tough trail as it is often closed due to 'bear encounters', although there are some tough hikers who would brave the danger. The last time I was through here was on horseback with an outfitter, taking the Astoria River Trail and avoiding the switchbacks.

To get fit ride a bicycle combined with walking, and doing flights of stairs. Grant MacEwan Community College has a group that goes hiking regularly, and you might want to check with them. Brian Lang belongs, and most of the photos in this post are his.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Barbara,
I always love coming here for a virtual tramp in that stunning country. We have tough country to traverse here but Nature left no predatory large animals on Aotearoa. I guess at times that is a good thing, but in my years of living in the states and hiking in places where bears live and wolves hunt it always adds to the wildness. Thanks for this great series of posts!

Barbara Martin said...

Robb, there may be no large predatory animals, but are there not poisonous snakes and lizards?

Glad you like the virtual hikes. I'm looking into my crystal ball to see where we tramp next Thursday.