I’m still starved for colour but decided I would embrace its lack and convert my photos to black-and-white for this blog post.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park. They call it an “ice walk” in winter as the trail is quite steep–if you go, you’ll appreciate the confidence that cleats/ice grippers provide although on the day I went, you probably would’ve been fine with grippy boots. The trail is well-used even in winter and packed down several feet wide. Signs warn people to stay on the trail, but there are a couple of places you can safely access the creek by clambering cautiously down the bank. I was delighted that magical snow still clung to the trees within the canyon even though it hadn’t snowed in several days.
It’s 1.1 km to the lower waterfall and 2.7 km to the upper waterfall, although both are currently so heavily covered with ice making them less impressive than in summer (although the Lower Falls sound like a giant washing machine at any time of year!). The trail becomes a catwalk in places, bolted to the side of the canyon as it bypasses the churning water below. Apparently the canyon is one of only three known breeding sites for black swifts in Alberta.
The most spectacular scene is the wall on the right of the Upper Falls–a curtain of blue ice builds up over the winter and is a popular ice-climbing destination (although no climbers were present the day I was there). If you carry on to the top of the upper falls, you can view the ice head-on.