The Heroines of Fairy Creek

8 October 2016 – That would be us!

DJ & I learn about the Fairy Creek trail while on another trail — one of the Montane loops that offers an eye-smacking view over Elk Valley & the mountains beyond, & a bench from which to admire it.

We’re chewing our sandwiches when a young mountain biker drops down beside us, sucks some water, falls into conversation, and suggests we visit the Fairy Waterfall, up a trail on Mount Proctor, the other side of town. “The signage isn’t great,” she adds, & offers way-finding tips involving cattle-guard locations & the like.

She’s right about the erratic signage. Still, when it does show up, you get more than information. You also get to enjoy yet again that mountain flair for trail names.

signage on the Mt Proctor trail system

DJ is more than a terrific human being & a greatly valued friend. She is also Dr. Ethnobotanist DJ, & this means her photo moments usually involve plants. This time, she is focussing, literally & metaphorically, on a Mahonia shrub.

closing in on that Mahonia

Fairy Creek is an undemanding trail — only 400 m. of elevation change over 4 km. — but it is also very, very pretty.

a lower stretch of the Fairy Creek trail

Old stumps like these earn their eco-keep in a variety of ways. Some, for example, as woodpecker condos.

old stump, Fairy Creek trail

This is big land, with big vistas.

Here, white Snowberries dance on their denuded shrubs in the foreground, while glowing Trembling Aspen leaves live up to their name farther back.

on the trail

But looking down at your toes is equally rewarding. We see varieties of lichen, snuggled up in symbiotic bliss with moss …

lichen in moss on a log

and vivid “polypore” (without gills) fungi living just as companionably on a rotting log.


A rare signpost appears.

We learn we can veer off to the right for the upper falls vantage point, or stick left for the lower falls. We’ve been tipped to go to the lower falls: it delivers a bigger WOW factor.

the upper & lower falls trail divide

So we go left.

Pretty soon Fairy Creek comes into view, its waters tumbling their way down, down the mountain to Elk River below.

Fairy Creek below the falls

We must be almost at the falls. We’re hearing waterfall drum rolls now, not just the chatter of successive rapids. Round a bend, and yes! there it is.

I stop to take a photo …

Penny sees the waterfall at last


and then stow my camera.

We settle our bottoms on a rock, pull out some gorp …

Fairy Creek Waterfall

and enjoy the view.

Speaking of Signs …

Meanwhile, back in Fernie itself …

in front of Nevados

a Mexican-themed restaurant uses signage to woo the health-food crowd.



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  1. What a lovely change of pace from your more urban posts! I loved it, especially the “woodpecker condo”!

  2. The Valley is just great – must have been wonderful to sit and admire the view

  3. You make me yearn for the wild. Warsaw’s a lovely city but it’s not the Australian bush – or the Canadian mountains. “Eye smacking views” is a great phrase – one I’ve fumbled for a number of times in the face of grandeur. The trembling aspens and the view from the rock are soul-filling.

  4. Gosh, we got a lot of chuckles reading those signs!

  5. and yes the funny sign…I try the 20-80 rule 🤓

  6. Gorp, I love gorp and had forgotten about the word. Thank you Penny!


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    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

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    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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