Dyson Falls is located within the Sheep River component of south Kananaskis Country west of Turner Valley, Alberta, Canada.
This day delivers on the expectation weather could be interesting. The small town of Turner Valley provides access to the Sheep Valley component of South Kananaskis Country. This town gained historical significance when oil was discovered here early in the 20th century.
Following the early start from Calgary and my excellent down-home breakfast at the Chuckwagon Cafe, all participants meet with hiking guide, Julie, on the porch of the Turner Valley Library for the Edible Plant Hike offered by Full Circle Adventures. Julie is the owner, operator and certified guide for this guided, interesting and very informative hike beginning from the Indian Oils parking area in the Sheep River component of South Kananaskis Country.
After full assembly and registration, car pooling provides transport west on Hwy 546 through rolling grassland morphing to forested areas on approach to the mountains. The destination at the well-signed Indian Oils parking area is a beautiful 40 minute, 35 KM rolling and twisting drive west of Turner Valley. Elapsed time may be marginally extended to drive with care around, past or cautiously through herds of free range cattle with their calves.
Thanks to Ryan from Edmonton for the lift and engaging conversation. Assembled in the Indian Oils parking area, we are a crew of seven diverse individuals, enthusiastic to enjoy a grand forest hike and to learn more about beneficially edible plants in the forest.
The hike begins by accessing dirt logging road trail behind washroom facilities on the easterly-tending Sheep Trail towards Tiger Jaw Falls along the Sheep River. Preliminary instructions of focus and intent are reviewed in a group setting prior to the hike.
Along the old, dirt road, scheduled stops provide the opportunity to learn the nature and names of plants which can be used safely for food preparation. Much of the information comes from the practices of Indigenous People over many centuries.
The interpretive hike fosters frequent inquiries and information sharing from past personal experiences. Some local chefs include the use of wild edible plants to add nutrition and unique hints of flavor to their fine dining alternatives.
Soon, the easterly-tending trail encounters the sound of powerful water and a short diversion to narrow dirt trail hikes the canyon edges above powerful water of the Sheep River. Churning white water tumbles beneath the bridge over Tiger Jaw Falls before coursing through narrow, rugged canyon walls prior to twisting through the Devil's Elbow downstream beneath formidable canyon walls.
Twisted wreckage from the old bridge decimated by the 2013 floods lies rusted downstream near the bottom of the canyon. The experience is a sensual combination of powerful visuals and overwhelming sound from rushing water.
Views of Tiger Jaw are compromised by the new, improved replacement bridge. Past the bridge the interpretive hike proceeds along the rustic, rolling forestry road trending gradually uphill towards intersection with Dyson Creek along the Green Mountain Trail.
Frequent stops initiated by leader Julie share information about specific plants used for food preparation. Lunch is consumed in a grassland meadow surrounded by forest prior to the final approach on road through forest.
Following passage on gravel road occasionally hosting small rivulets of running water, forest opens to grassland views hosting trail crossing Dyson Creek which appears to disappear into the ground.
Hiking further onto the far side rocky ridge over the pristine waterfall reveals the right angle bend in Dyson Creek. Teresa stands sentinel above the fall to provide scale. The trail crossing Dyson Creek continues towards Green Mountain.
Teresa provides scale from the top of Dyson Falls.
The return hike proceeds via the same route used for access. About ²⁄₃ of the way back, a light rain begins and forest fragrance explodes into the sensory inventory of special moments along this trail. As precipitation gradually intensifies, rain gear manages the change and the return hike continues to our vehicles at Indian Oils parking. The heavy rain begins to include light hail as we all stow gear and access the car pool vehicles.
As the drive back to Turner Valley begins, the skies unload. Frequent lightning and deafening bursts of thunder capture attention as large hail pounds the vehicle exterior. Roads are soon completely white and covered with more than 2 accumulated inches of large hail. The driving experience becomes a crunching drive of questionable stability as vehicles sway on the compromised surface. All ends well. No vehicles or persons lost. Animated conversation is engaging.
Dyson Falls is an excellent, short day hike in the Sheep River component of Kananaskis Country west from Okotoks, Black Diamond and Turner Valley, Alberta,Canada via Hwy 546 aka (Sheep River Trail).
This guided tour and hike occurred on Wednesday, July 6, 2019.
Anyone interested in experiencing this, or other adventures / learning experiences, with a Certified Guide are welcome to contact Julie Walker, Full Circle Adventures at 403-968-4816 . Alternative opportunities and adventures are listed on the website. Worth checking out.