Thursday, 14 May 2009

Hiking Trails - Three Sisters

The Three Sisters Trail is located near Fernie, British Columbia.

[1- Three Sisters from Fernie - click to enlarge]

8 hours, difficult, elevation gain 770m (2,525 feet)

[2- Elk River near the Three Sister - click to enlarge]

The trailhead is accessed by starting at the bridge over the Elk River, on the north end of Fernie, travel east on highway 3 for 5.2km to Dicken Road. Turn left onto Dicken Road and travel for 600m. Turn right onto Hartley Lake Road. Set odometer at “0”. Follow rough, two wheel drive gravel road for 9km, passing Hartley Lake. At odometer 9, turn left onto a rough, 4-wheel drive track. Follow this track for 3 km.

[3-click to enlarge]

It is 6.4 km to the first saddle. The first half of this trail is through an old growth forest and is easy to follow. As the trail leaves the forest, the views open up as it enters a meadow and heads west. At the edge of the meadow, near Olivia Creek, there is a primitive campsite. Red triangles on the far side of the meadow mark where the well-defined trail resumes. The rest of the trail is very exposed. Hikers should be prepared for sudden weather changes, as shelter is limited. From the meadow, the trail begins to climb steeply.

Take care, as this steep section is slippery when wet. Until the Sulphur Creek basin is reached, the trail continues to be challenging and care must be taken, as falling rock, steep cliffs below the trail and a rocky face must be crossed.

After this rugged section, the trail enters the meadow at the top of Sulphur Creek, where another primitive campsite can be found. In this area, the trail passes near an area of Karst topography with sink-holes, caves and huge limestone boulders that tumbled off the shoulder of the Three Sisters. From Sulphur Creek, it is an easy hike up a good trail to the ridge.

[4 - Hikers on scree slopes of the Three Sisters - click to enlarge]

[5-Mt. Bisaro from Three Sisters Trail - click to enlarge]

Once on the ridge, there are fine views down into Fairy Creek, Fernie, and the surrounding mountains.

[6 - Backside of The Steeples from the Three Sisters looking toward Cranbrook - click to enlarge]

Lucky hikers may get to see mountain goats.

[7- Mountain goat - click to enlarge]

Less lucky ones may encounter a grizzly or black bear.

[8- Grizzly bear]

[9- Hiking out from the Three Sisters]

The Three Sisters are part of the Washburn Range in the Rocky Mountains, adjacent to the Elk River Valley. There is a legend about the Three Sisters: an Indian Chief was enamoured by three maidens and could not decide which one he would choose as a bride. When the elder chiefs asked the gods for their help in making this decision, the gods punished their indecisiveness by turning the young chief into a mountain (Mount Proctor). Upon hearing about this, the grief of the maidens was so great that they asked the gods to turn them into a mountain also – and so became the Three Sisters in Fernie.

Source: BC Forestry

Photo Credits: [1][3][4][5][6][9]-Dru! CC=nc-nd-flickr, [2]-Calypso Orchid CC=nc-nd-flickr, [7]-steeljam CC=nc-nd-flickr, [8]-atonal CC=nc-sa-flickr.


BernardL said...

Wow, I hope that photographer had a very high power telephoto lens when the grizzly picture was taken. :)

Lauren said...

You are so lucky to live near such beauty. That little goat is super cute. Bear...not so much... :) But seriously, great post. Really makes me feel like hiking.

David Cranmer said...

Great shot of the mountain goat!

laughingwolf said...

just love fernie, one of my uni buds teaches there :)

Barbara Martin said...

Bernard, sometimes on a trail it is very easy to come upon an animal unexpectedly. That's where calm nerves comes in, even if your heart is pounding.

Lauren, Toronto is about 4,000 miles from Fernie, not that close. The mountain goats can be almost friendly as they rarely see humans in the higher altitudes. Bears...I prefer them at a good distance.

David, I love the mountain goats when their new winter coats are growing in.

Barbara Martin said...

Tony, it's good to have friends living in places you'd like to visit.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Stunning scenery! It is so vast, it makes me feel very small.

Donnetta said...

So beautiful that the pictures seem to not be real. Well, I am a Capricorn--so I love the photos of mountains. D

Barbara Martin said...

Raph, it is the height from which the photos are taken, providing an expanse of space and the size of the mountians.

Donnetta, these photos are particularly nice showing the magnicence of the mountains: and the goat fits in nicely.

RuneE said...

This looks more like mountain climbing than hiking! The goat looked nice enough, but the bear?

Barbara Martin said...

RuneE, the topographical map of the hike shows the trail is through wooded areas, meadows and across wide swaths of scree with only a few really tricky places. Though I do understand how dangerous scree can be, scrambling around a ledge with a sheer drop beneath is not my idea of fun.

J. L. Krueger said...

Seems there's Three Sisters all over the place. There's a Three Sisters near Glencoe in Scotland.

That scree can be pretty tough going if you try to climb up through it. Many of the mountains in Scotland have pretty rough scree fields too. The Paps of Jura come immediately to mind.

I've always found that in bear country it doesn't pay to walk quietly. Usually if they hear you soon enough, they move away from trails. Most bad encounters are the result of surprising a bear, particularly a sow with cubs.

bindu said...

Stunning, gorgeous trails as always! I so wish we weren't in Texas right now. Another summer going waste with no good hikes. BTW, there's a Three Sisters point in Sydney, Australia too - a triple rock formation. Visited that one more than 10 years ago.

laughingwolf said...

yup, i even spent a week there with him and his family :)

Barbara Martin said...

J.L., there are another set of Three Sisters at Canmore, Alberta east of Banff National Park.

Barbara Martin said...

Bindu, there must be trails somewhere in Texas.

Tony, that's amazing.