e were back on the High Rockies Trail, this time doing a very short snowshoe between Sparrowhawk and Spencer creeks with a detour in the middle to look at Forbes Creek Grotto (see map). Would it harbour an icefall in winter? The answer is no, but it’s nevertheless an interesting place to visit. Snowshoes are a must in the deep snow and despite misgivings about falling into holes between boulders, the terrain is actually easier to handle in winter. Our tracks started from the south bank at the bridge, and at flagging crossed the creek to the north bank, which takes you above a step and into the inner sanctum. Interestingly, water was flowing out from the bottom of the cliff (Have to take a peek above the impasse one day to see what the creek is doing up there. Maybe there never is a waterfall.) The hydrology of the area is fascinating and later on we noted that the Spencer Creek springs were going full blast.
The HR trail is well used, hard packed throughout and walkable if you don’t want to snowshoe. Skiers have been making tracks all over the place, along the trail and up and down the hillsides. The trail up Sparrowhawk Creek was also packed down. One observation: We detoured to Sparrowhawk Creek bridge for our avalanche expert to inspect the steep side slope en route. He declared it a possible avalanche hazard in the Spring after a prolonged period of warm weather, particularly when overnight temperatures remain above freezing. The slope above the trail is about 35° and continues below the trail into the terrain trap of the creek. Even a small slide could knock someone off their feet and bury them under heavy wet snow, which would set up like concrete!