WILDERNESS WATERFALLS

Charles Helm, Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark

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In our explorations of creeks and canyons in the summer of 2014, we were not always successful in our quest for dino tracks. One such venture had another goal, though… a glance at Google Earth had revealed a significant elevation change in the creek level over a short distance. But if it was a waterfall, why did no-one else seem to know anything about it, and why was it not visible from a helicopter?

Reaching this spot after a bit of getting lost and a lot of bush-whacking revealed something unexpected. And so we found what has come to be known as Triple Jump Falls. The creek plummets three times in succession, around and between which are caverns, whose walls almost meet above. This site is in rocks of the Cadomin Formation, a band of conglomerate rock that extends for hundreds of kilometres in each direction, parallel to the mountain ranges. It is the only waterfall that we know of in this formation, and that explains why it is invisible from the air: layers of conglomerate rocks, as they are eroded, tend to form distinctive shapes, often forming rounded caverns.

Quite simply, it is one of the most spectacular places imaginable, arguable our most attractive waterfall (that is quite a statement, considering the competition). Incidentally, the most impressive of these waterfall-caverns occurs below the middle of the three falls, and is inaccessible with ropes and other equipment. No human has stood here yet, but that didn’t stop Brandon Braam, our drone king, to expertly pilot his machine into this sacred space, get footage, and then reverse it out, with inches to spare on either side. It now forms one of his astonishing series of postings to YouTube.

This all begs a question. Does every one of our numerous waterfalls deserve a trail and a brochure? The Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society has already built, and maintains, hiking trails to over thirty destinations in the area. Together these have transformed what Tumbler Ridge has to offer the visitor and resident. But there are many more, like Triple Jump Falls, that are virtually unknown.

This potentially creates an opportunity. What if the Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark helps provide a different outdoor experience, in which information on the waterfall destination and its geology are provided, along with GPS points of the start and end points, and info on hazards en route (for example: “you need to cross the Wolverine River – avoid this in spring flood or after heavy rains”). This would appeal to the more adventurous, and would also create a business opportunity in the Geopark for someone willing to offer something exceptional in the way of adventure tourism.

Here’s a list of a few possible candidates in this group: Bulley Glacier Falls, Lower Tunnel Falls, Salt Falls, Skunk Falls, Triple Jump Falls, Upper Tunnel Falls, Wolverine Falls, to which can be added Dinosaur Gorge. Then we could add Quantum Falls as an ATV trip, the other wilderness waterfalls accessible from a jet boat up or down the Murray… and the list goes on.

One of the pleasures of being in this part of the world right now is the ability to ask such questions, work out the best possible answers, and then try to put solutions into practice. Who knows exactly what our Global Geopark will offer a decade from now? Yet one thing is for certain: it will be unique and special.