Ribbon Falls and Bear Encounter

Was planning on hiking Galatea, only to find out that it’s closed for environmental reasons. Suppose a lesson in checking trail reports instead of just trailpeak before heading into the mountains, but we were in Kananaskis with a closed trail and no plan.

Decided on Ribbon Falls, an easy yet long hike whose trailhead was only a few minutes away. Generally don’t look twice at trails rated ‘easy’ but was pleasantly surprised to learn this was a 22km round trip hike, so would hopefully satisfy my thirst for adventure in a pinch.

Turned out to be a gorgeous hike into a secluded valley with only one way in and one way out, and being the cold rainy day it was, wasn’t busy at all. The first thing we saw that inspired me to unpack my camera and try being a photographer was this adorable baby squirrel. I’ve never seen a baby squirrel before so was pretty excited that it didn’t run away from us as soon as we stopped, and hung out just long enough to snap a pic before some other passing hikers scared it away.


The rest of the first half of the hike was exceptionally beautiful. I love rainy days in the mountains, very dramatic.  It was pouring rain on us for a few hours straight so I didn’t take my camera out often. The only times were at the first falls about a quarter of the way where we stopped for lunch, and at the halfway point which is the namesake of the hike.


We kept a good pace on the way back. The temperature was dropping fast and we were already starting to get a tad chilly. Although we had waterproof jackets our legs were getting pretty soaked and knew we were still 11kms in the backcountry and had a long ways to go. Nothing of note happened for the first 9kms of the way back, until two kilometers away from the parking lot we had a ‘first’. We turned a corner and saw the couple who had been in front of us stopped and looking into the woods ahead of them. As soon as we made it to them before they could barely say they saw a bear, out comes this little black bear onto the path roughly 40 yards in front of us, right in the middle of the trail.

If I had my camera in my hands at the time (I hike with my camera packed away in my bag) I’m sure I would have taken a shot, but with a bear walking towards you, blocking your way 2kms away from your vehicle, grabbing your mace seems like a better idea than grabbing your camera. Mace in hand, the four of us backed away around a couple corners before coming to the ONLY intersection in the entire trail. How lucky we are the bear wasn’t 200 meters further West or we would have been stranded out there, but the way it all worked out we only had to take an extra 2-3 kilometers to get back to the parking lot. I should probably be thankful my first encounter with a bear (while on a trail) turned out to be rather uneventful. I like running into them from the safety of a vehicle a lot more.

After leaving our parking area and deciding there were too many photo opportunities to still be had, away we went down highway 40 to see what we could find. Here’s a shot of the east side of Mount Kidd covered in cloud. I have another shot I absolutely love from a half hour later, but I like it so much I’ve decided to make a post about just it, so come by tomorrow and check that out too


Lance Edwards-Hampton


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