South East Branch off Canadian Forks, June 25 '17
Being first really hot day of summer '17 in Canmore (+30) I figured I'd go and cool myself off in Cougar Canyon; shade, and running creek make things considerably cooler than in the valley. Creek was still flowing pretty good & dozen or so but easy rock-hops were necessary. Despite snail pace I was still by Canadian Forks in no time. Sat on the rock and considered where to go. Daffern talks about some '10 m high waterfall' in south fork, but I remembered report from PhilR where he went up SE Fork and encountered some really neat scenery. There is actually good trail on (climber) right side of the drainage but I found it only on return. It leads to some real impressive rock climbing walls; I think this is what Daffern refers to as "Planet X". Found ropes hanging off, and to my surprise large pack of climbing gear (see photos below) -- I thought it was someone climbing but it was still there on return with nobody on sight. Beyond no trails, but trip becomes very scenic. Creek appears with tiny cascades and small pools, and is sheer joy. Eventually canyon opens up a bit and you reach large snowfield on right side -- deposit of spring avalanches. Very neat waterfall above. This was near 2000m & I was actually curious how far I could get, but this was end of the line for non-technical travel. Canyon narrows, walls become vertical. Remembering some neat pools from Phil report I figured I must get a bit higher and trashed up dirt slope on left side. This led to really neat viewpoint and I could see the pools and where canyon ends. Further non-technical travel, at least on this side, is impossible. It might be feasible to continue a bit on the other side, but that would involve potentially risky crossing of that snow field which had caves and moats beneath. So I called it a day.
'Planet X' climbing wall, about 10-15 mins from Canadian Forks
Climbing gear left hanging, incl. water bottle. Quite a lot actually -- is this custom???
Climbing Pitch up 'Planet X'
Beyond climbing walls travel is less strenuous and quite scenic
Canyon opens up further; this is where Daffern called it quits, but she missed the most scenic part! If you come here, keep going -- best is yet to come
End of the line; note snowfield, and waterfall coming off sheer cliffs. Some serious caverns and moats below
What the canyon looks like past the snowfield
Waterfall and snow field from dirt slope I trashed up, looking for Phil' pools
Telephoto to upper waterfall; would be neat to see if there is small lake at the bench between two waterfalls, but I wasn't high enough
Pools at the end of Cougar SE branch. Very neat! Photo is awful (Phil has much better one, please do post if you see this), but I had heavy SLR around my neck and this place is somewhat exposed
About 45min to an hour from Canadian Forks, and about 4 hrs return trip from parking at Benchlands Drive (Lady Mac trailhead). Recommended!