Monday June 23 was another beautiful day so we took advantage by heading back to West Bragg Creek (last visit was in April when there was still lots of snow on the ground). This is the little used entrance to K-country, accessed via township road 232 heading west from Bragg Creek. You can hike from here to Sibbald Flats via the Tom Snow Trail, something we’d like to try some time.
We had 5 geocaches we wanted to find and in reading past logs figured we were in for anywhere from about 11 km to 17 km total distance; the low end of the range would require extensive bushwhacking while sticking to the trails would result in a longer distance.
We spent the morning on one arm of the Moose Loop trail. This was a very easy, mostly picturesque walk; we covered 12.7 km including a bit of backtracking as the usual ford across the unnamed stream was not navigable due to high water levels. This distance also included a 2 km side trip with moderate bushwhacking to find one geocache on the far west arm of the Telephone Trail. Net elevation gain on the Moose Loop trail was only about 100 meters, as this is a cross-country ski trail.
Our favourite stretch of trail passed through a beautiful meadow / wide valley; it’s along the north arm of the Moose Loop trail after crossing the bridge / creek. We were lucky enough to see three white-tailed deer as we approached this section of the trail and the reflections on the still water of the pond were just beautiful.
The mosquitos were out in full force, so we ate lunch in the car before heading out again, this time north from the parking lot to Telephone Trail and Hostel Loop. There were 2 geocaches we wanted to get, so we turned on our FSRs, split up and headed off along our assigned trails. Mr. GeoK had a slightly longer distance to cover, bringing his total for the day to 19.1 km. He also had to apply DEET for a second time in order to fend of the mosquitos while hunting for Sleepy hollow’s Lost Lake Cache.
Mrs. GeoK had a slightly steeper, slightly shorter travel which brought her total distance for the day to 18.5 km. She headed up the west arm of Hostel Loop and then carried on along an extension even farther north to search out a cache hidden by a scout troop. There was nothing particularly redeeming about the hike and the trail itself was in terrible condition – either wet and muddy or dried and very uneven due to horse, moose and deer tracks. The final one hundred meters or so to the cache hiding spot required bushwhacking through replanted forest. Every branch that was moved threw off a cloud of yellow dust and she wondered where all the pollen was from, as most of the "flowers" we saw were dandelions today. It was only after finding the cache and bushwhacking back to the trail that she realized the yellow dust was most probably sulphur dust, blown over on the wind from the Moose Mountain gas plant. Yuck!! She had to hose down her backpack, wash her camera case (see photo below), etc., as everything was covered in the stuff. So while the Moose Loop trail definitely is worth a return visit, she hopes never again to set foot on Hostel Loop / Telephone Trail.
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That was pollen from Spruce Trees not sulphur. You can see it in the Spring/early summer especially when the wind blows as clouds of yellow emerging from the trees.