The Ochre Trail … The Paint Pots

The Paint Pots

Along Ochre Creek …

… we find a tangled mess of timber in the stream.

Spring runoff must be spectacular here.
Finally … the Paint Pots
2 small green ponds and a Paint Pot (right).

Ever seen a green pond like this?
And that’s not the reflection from the trees.
A unique environment.

There’s the Paint Pot.

The Ochre Paint Pot spring. 

One day to be a choke cone?

Heading back …

The Ochre Trail … The Choke Cones

Mountain Spring High · Gabriel LewisJust before the Paint Pots on
Ye Old Ochre Trail 
we encounter the Choke Cones.

Sign image borrowed from the Net.

What are Choke Cones you might ask?

Sign says:


This “choked” cone resulted from the accumulation
of iron oxide or hydroxide around the rim of a pool.
As the rim grew, the pool deepened. The increased
pressure of water in the pool became greater than the
force of water in the spring causing the spring to
seek a new outlet. When this happened, the pot
eventually dried up, forming a “choked” cone.The Kootenay Choke Cones appear to be of little or no interest to anybody
as I could find no images and little information about them on the net.
We, ourselves, marched blithely past them 
like cityslicker robots
without taking a photo. 
The image above is stolen off the wonderful Google Maps.
So I hope I’m not boring everybody to death with this stuff. 

just in case you ARE interested at all …

check this out.

Just click on the link below.
Voila! – the entire virtual Kootenay Paint Pots Hike !!!!,-116.1476117,2a,90y,272.44h,94.66t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1snWQZmcmTjOlDRsnhvAiqSg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0x537755c63211911d:0xb516823821a23dd7!8m2!3d51.1701032!4d-116.1472925

And you can do it must faster than we did.


At the Pots

The Ochre Trail … Ye Olde Ochre Mine

Changes / Gordon Lightfoot (written by Phil Ochs)

“Don’t it always seem to go   
that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”
Big Yellow Taxi / Joni Mitchell / 1970

The next thing you see on Ye Olde Ochre Trail is

Ye Olde (abandoned) Ochre Mine.

Check the map …

A bit of History: 

The Ochre Mine / Kootenay National Park

“In the early 1900s, mineral claims were issued, and
extensive mining of the iron oxide deposits in the marsh below
the springs occurred for use as a pigment in paint manufacture.
The Paint Pots site was incorporated into Kootenay National Park
when it was formed in 1920 at which point
activity halted.”

Mining operation was “halted in 1920”
– the miners were
kicked out of the Park. 
But it’s a sure bet though that paint companies soon found out
how to creating any colour anyway – including Ochre – 
and thus ended the demand for natural Ochre. 

At the Ochre Mine site you’ll see these 2 (almost unreadable) signs.

It shows that the Park folks once cared about this site.

That’s not apparent now.

Yesterday’s garbage is tomorrow’s treasure.

There are now worrying signs of neglect.
Apart from the poor condition of the signs 
we see much abuse of the old mining equipment 
which is just strewn about the area – open to obvious abuse.

Some already has graffiti on it. 

Soon much of this will simply be taken by people
– or destroyed.

Lost forever.

Who knows what is already missing?

Nor is there any information on how Ochre mining was done?
We can see this old equipment, but how was it used?
We don’t know.

Found some of this nearby.
I’m guessing this would have been the final mining product.
Dried Ochre.
Golden yes … 
But it does not glitter.
Once somebody’s dream?
In the palm of my hand. 
To the Paint Pots 

The Ochre Trail …

Golden Slumbers / Mindy Gledhill

 I admit I didn’t really expect much.
Thought it would just be a nice easy hike.
But it proved to be something else. 

The Ochre Trail

The first thing you see is the
The Fancy Bridge and Creek.Look at that thing!?? You could drive a tank across that. 
But also look at that creek. I’m betting at certain times of the year
this creek is pretty well impassable – especially at Spring runoff.
And it’s likely that previous bridges were washed away. 
So they built this amazing thing. 

There’s a nice view from the Bridge.

Resting. Already?
Why not?
I’m in no hurry.

When we move up the trail, the ochre appears instantly.

It’s almost shocking. The whole area is covered with it! 
Gold water, gold creeks, gold mud … !

A golden wonderland!

Not all ochre is gold coloured like this. It comes in different shades: red, brown, yellow …

I kind of think this gold ochre would have been prized.

A golden pathway.
Even the boardwalk is gold.

Our own yellow brick road.
There must be a wizard up ahead …
But w
here is it coming from?

We’ll soon see … 


Ochre … the stuff that dreams were made of …

A Summer Song / Chad and Jeremy

Sign say:

Welcome to the Paint Pots!

Indigenous peoples attach great importance to the “red earth” or ochre found in the this area. Different groups have been traveling to this sacred place for thousands of years collect the ochre. It has been used for painting bodies, tipis, clothing, and horses, as well as for rock paintings.

In the early 1900s the ochre was commercially mined for use as pigment in paint. Some of the pieces of equipment remain along the trail. After Kootenay National Park was established in 1920, mining was gradually phased out to protect the landscape.

The three pots or pools formed are by the accumulation of iron oxide around the outlet of three cold mineral springs. In some areas, “choked cones” or wide mounds of ochre, formed when the water in the pools dried up.

The Ochre Creek Trail is 1.9 Kilometers (1 1/8 miles) long. 

You know, I still can’t figure things in Metric terms.
I was brought up on the Imperial system. 
So if you tell me something about a Mile long,
I have a very good idea how far that is. 
If you say Kilometers? Not so much.

Anyway, it’s not a long hike. 
And mostly flat.
I’d still say a hiking stick would be useful.
And a bit of water/snacks. 
Listen Cityslicker, you are still out in the wild.
Be prepared.  

Off we go …
Next: Ochre