I had a free Sunday morning in Yellowknife and felt like doing something adventurous. I started poking around online for ideas and came across a great blog called Life in the Knife. Written by a local named Shane, the blog is a tremendous resource of activities and perspectives on life in the north, covering everything from the local architecture to driving the ice road. If you’re planning a trip to Yellowknife, I strongly recommend you check it out.
One of the posts is about the Cameron Falls Trail, and it was exactly what I was looking for – an easy hike to a pretty waterfall. Located just 45 minutes outside of town along the Ingraham Trail, it promised a taste of northern peace and solitude.
I arrived just after 8:00 am and was happy to discover that I was the only person there. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, and the hike doesn’t present any real physical challenges. Some kind people have even built boardwalks, stairs, and a bridge across the falls.
After walking for about 15 minutes, you’re rewarded with a stunning view of the falls. I must admit I felt a small pang of regret that there wasn’t a bear standing in the shallows – that would have been perfect.
After exploring the falls for a few minutes I sat on the banks of the river and dipped my toes in the cold clear water. I pulled out my iPhone to check the time and noticed the words “No service” in the top corner of the screen.
I suddenly panicked. I was a pudgy, middle-age guy from the suburbs, alone in the wilds of the Northwest Territories without so much as a pocket knife or even a bear bell. I hadn’t told anyone where I was going. If anything happened – an attack by a rabid wolverine, a broken ankle, an assault by a roaming band of miscreants – there was no way for me to call for help. Or text for help. Or send out an S.O.S. via Facebook or Twitter.
At that moment I actually contemplated making a video message on my iPhone for my kids in case I didn’t make it back. Something along the lines of “Dear A and K – if you’re watching this, it means Daddy has done something incredibly stupid and is really, really sorry.”
I quickly put on my shoes and walked briskly back to the car. At one point a rabbit darted across the path in front of me and I might have let out a tiny shriek. While I’m sure the hike was no more dangerous than a walk in Gatineau Park, my mind was working overtime to turn it into some kind of death-defying odyssey.
In any case, Shane has posted a lot of great photos of the trail on his blog here. If you have a couple of hours to spare in Yellowknife, I highly encourage you to take a drive out of town and do the hike (especially if do what I did and couple it with a tour of an abandoned gold mine, which I’ll describe in the next post).