20140926: Cascade East face C-Level Cirque (Banff)

Within a half-hour you reach two skeletal buildings, the remnants of an anthracite coal operation that flourished in the area from 1904 to 1922. A town of nearly 1,000 inhabitants called Bankhead was spread across the valley where the trail begins, and these old buildings were a part of the “C Level” operation—the highest coal seams worked within the eastern slope of Cascade Mountain.

Cirque is a French word you will not likely find in your English dictionary—a term used by geologists to describe a semicircular, bowl-shaped depression created by an alpine glacier… Though the glacier that produced the basin has long since disappeared, snow often lingers in the basin into midsummer. As it retreats, a carpet of yellow glacier lilies spreads across the damp, subalpine soil near its entrance. A tiny pond below the trail provides water throughout the summer, fed by the extensive snowfield on the talus slopes above.

A pleasant two-hour fall hike in the evening after a day of rain, with a nice view of Lake Minnewanka about 1 mile into the hike. Start from the Upper Bankhead trailhead (part of the Cascade Valley). Minnewanka lakeshore post here. Cascade mountain summit post here. Some morning photos from Cascade Pond here, while I was on the way to Yoho N.P.

Lake Minnewanka
Lake Minnewanka

Trail lit by sunset
Trail lit by sunset

Reaching the cirque
Reaching the cirque

East face of Rundle and its talus slopes
East face of Rundle and its talus slopes


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