Sparrowhawk Tarns, Alberta

SteveR

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Sep 22, 2016
Messages
411
A week ago we hiked to one of our favourite spots in the Spray Valley south of Canmore, Alberta- the Sparrowhawk Tarns. I'm pretty sure that I posted a report after our last visit there, but that was a few years ago, so here you go, again.
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A good hiker made trail winds upwards from the shores of the Spray Lake reservoir, breaking out of the forest on the margin of a massive ancient rockslide.
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Meandering up the boulderfield.
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With the late snowmelt, the first tarn, which dries up to a mere puddle later in the summer, is still nearly full.
Apologies to Yvonne for all that snow- and there's more to come!
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First tarn below the summit of Mount Bogart.
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Onwards after lunch at the tarn. Our route will undulate across the terrain towards the cascades in the distance, then up beside them to a higher basin below the cliffs.
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A look back.
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Buttercups in meadows still soggy from the melting snowbanks.
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With the rocky terrain and abundant pockets of meadow- this valley is a marmot hotspot.
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Tarn #2- Rockbound. My favourite.
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At the back of the basin, the largest tarn is still filled with avalanche debris. Usually by this time it might feature only a few remnant icebergs.
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While Paul breaks out his compact watercolour kit for an hour spent painting, we wander around the rest of the tarns, several of which are still partly or fully frozen.
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Another view of Rockbound Tarn.
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Meanwhile, Piper watches the marmots. Usually she is very well behaved and obedient while hiking off leash, but today the multitude of whistling rodents overwhelmed her training a time or two and the wolf instincts took over. No chance of her catching them at all though- there were simply too many nooks and crannies to retreat to.
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More tarns, as we are on the move again after Paul has his watercolor fleshed out, for completion at home.
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Rockbound, again. I told you it was my favourite!
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White Heather. Lots of the red variety here too, but still only budding.
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A look at our route out. We came in more along the right side of the basin.
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The meadow stream draining the upper tarns will vanish into the rockslide and limestone karst up ahead, before reappearing much lower down.
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Yep, there were many more marmots.
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Looking back as we climb briefly out of the sunken basin holding the meadows. Where'd that stream go?
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Yellow Draba below the ridge of Mount Sparrowhawk.
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Back into the rockslide, where a trail is slowly being beaten in by hiker feet. We saw only about 6 others here today, despite the hordes at the official trailheads on the drive in. I suspect that the sometimes tedious route through the boulder field and the off trail rambling above keeps the crowds away. Let's hope it stays that way.
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Avens and Sweetvetch- typical flora in the rocky limestone terrain of the Spray Valley.
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If the tarn area was a marmot village, the lower part of the boulderfield is a metropolis. It obviously is ideal habitat for them.
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One final marmot shot. By now, Piper was on leash as all the sassy marmots were simply too much for her to take!
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Columbine, as we reach the margin of the forest and the not overly interesting, but easy and pleasant trail down to roadside at Spray Lakes.
 

wsp_scott

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Joined
May 16, 2016
Messages
776
That photo of Piper is awesome, looks like a great day
 

Miya

Because I am able.
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Joined
Dec 31, 2017
Messages
1,209
So much beauty!! Thanks for sharing!
I love seeing Marmots, real life or pictures! Haha
 

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