Monday, February 10, 2020

Johnston Canyon, Secret Cave, Ink Pots February 10, 2020

Johnston Canyon & The Ink Pots is one of those iconic Banff National Parks hikes that one should not miss if coming to Banff to visit.  I have been numerous times mostly during the winter months and on weekdays.  Today was the perfect day to invest many hours savouring every sight, there is so much to see.  In addition to seeing the stretch along the cat walk, the Lower Falls, the Upper Falls and the Ink Pots, we also aimed to find the "Secret Cave" as it is not off limits at this time of year.  
It was nice to see less than ten vehicles in the parking lot when we arrived as my hope was for no hoards.  It felt frigid gearing up which meant donning the heaviest of my heavys.  We entered under the arch, crossed the bridge, hung a right then carried on our way towards the cat walk and canyon walls.  It flurried yesterday on top of all the snow that was already there and the new flurries just made the scenery that much whiter and brighter.  I have never seen so much snow here as there was today!
view down to the Lower Falls catwalk & cave
We had an idea where the "Secret Cave" was located and as we hiked along the trail between the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls we watched for a beaten path in the snow downhill on the right.  Well there were many as we went along and I tried a few.  The turnoff is very close to the Upper Falls and we eventually found it and scurried our way down to it.  I have seen summer photos from a few years back where the falls are not frozen, we were afforded them in the frozen state.
The frozen falls are there on the left.  We then went up into the cave where the black swift nest to have a view out towards the falls and the big boulder.  This is a view from inside the cave with the opening of the cave creating a frame.  This area is off limits from spring until mid November.
To put things into perspective, that's Happy Hiker standing at the base of the big boulder. 
It was time to carry on to the Upper Falls.  
This time there was some blue ice.
We went down to end of the cat walk where it over hangs the creek with hopes of seeing some ice climbers.  They were there but they were just gearing up to start going up.  We stayed a few minutes then decided it was time to hit the trail to the Ink Pots.  As we followed the cat walk back up, I noticed a beaten path down to the creek, I went for it.  This is a view from down there.  You can see people standing on the cat walk overhang middle to bottom left in the photo.  That's where we just were.  
view up the canyon
We stopped at the intersection of the Ink Pots & Moose Meadows trails for a fuel fix. 
This was our view here.  It was warm and sparkly! 
Happy Hiker sees things in the wintry forest just like me.
Here she saw an igloo designed by Mother Nature!
view as we hiked along the hard packed Ink Pots trail
Then we arrived!  The view was breathtaking in all directions at the Ink Pots.  
We shared the area with three others for a few minutes then they went on their way.  
We agreed to meander about taking photos for a bit then settle down to dine.  
a winter-wonderland
so much snow, be careful where you walk
lots of snow crystals & snow pillows
We arrived where we would dine then bundled up against the cold wind before settling down.  Lunch is always more delicious when you are smack in the middle of paradise.  The meadow to our side was calling us to make a mess and a mess we made.  Happy Hiker was first to get in the middle of it while I set up the tripod.  Yes be careful where you walk, she sunk to her thighs in the snow.
We both got lift off, yet very slightly so!
I performed "the point of no return" fall!
Happy Hiker showing her happy pose!
We used enough energy from making a mess in the meadow.  We saved the rest to meander around again before beginning the ascent out of here.  A couple of the Pots were snow covered but this one was still wide open.  Views like this make this place!  Winter is my favourite season at The Ink Pots. 
We arrived back up top and then it was flat and down hill from here on in.  I still needed more of that feeling of being one with all the snow.  Watch where you walk, after sinking to my thigh here I maneuvered around to stand a bit higher.  Like I said before, there is so much snow here.
back at the Ink Pots & Moose Meadows trails intersection
When we reached the Upper Falls the climbers were on their way down.  
a close up of the climber from the above photo
We passed by going back down to the cat walk overhang at the Upper Falls and we passed by the Lower Falls too.  The light was getting lower and lightened up the tree tops while doing so.  We carried on along the cat walk still taking time to admire the views then made our way back to the parking lot. We still had dinner to do, so geared down, hopped in the car and carried on with our day.
Our stars aligned for us today!  
It felt like we found a little piece of paradise!


  1. That place looks amazing! I can't wait until I can live a life like yours!

    1. It's nice to be able to go there on a weekday! I admire the life you are living now!

  2. Your heart must have been exploding with joy!


I'm always curious to know what your comment might be!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.