Chris Tremblay has a lofty ambition: to visit all 3000 of British Columbia’s waterfalls. Naturally, this quest has brought him to the Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark, with its plethora of waterfalls. Not content with visiting the standard set of accessible falls, Chris ventured high into the wilderness of Monkman Provincial Park with his buddy Jarius Trelenberg to reach spectacular Courtipat Falls below Lupin Lake.
En route not only did they document and photograph two waterfalls upstream from the main falls, but they encountered an underground stream passage, a subsurface drainage feature characteristic of limestone rocks (the rocks and peaks around Lupin Lake are from the Devonian Period, about 390 million years old).
Here a creek tumbles into a deep crack in the limestone rocks and disappears, only to re-emerge from a cave as a small waterfall 150 metres down the valley. When Chris visited in late summer, water levels were low enough that entry into and up this underground river system was feasible, providing an awe-inspiring subterranean experience.
Beside the impressive Courtipat Falls, another stream emerges from an inaccessible opening in the high limestone cliffs. Courtipat Falls is names after Alfred Courtipat, a trapper from Kelly Lake, who worked the area many years before Monkman Provincial Park was designated.
Access to this remote area is challenging. It involves trailless alpine wilderness and ridges from the Monkman Tarns area, which in turn is accessed by a challenging route up from Monkman Lake (which is 24 kilometres from the trailhead at the Kinuseo Falls campground). The underground stream passage is to be found 100 metres up the main creek that enters Lupin Lake from the south, about 400 metres from the west end of the lake.
Chris Tremblay’s evocative photographs capture the majesty and excitement of this remote Geosite.