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Weekend at Pigeon Lake

We went to Pigeon Lake for the weekend.  A three hour drive door to door (on the way back – on the way there, due to stops for gas and coffee and missing our turnoff from 13W, it took 4 hours)  We didn’t take our boat with us as we only had one full day there and planned to explore a little.

The condo-cottage was comfortable and well equipped other than bedding and towels which we had to take with us.  A barbecue and chairs on the deck,  a fire pit and a white chain fence surrounding a green lawn made sitting outside very inviting, even without the bonus of the lake being just across the road from us.

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We went for a number of walks around the little hamlet of Mulhurst Bay and along the lakeside.  Then spent Saturday afternoon driving around the lake which was fun, although much of the time the road takes you away from the water.  There are many little side roads to explore which do take you down to the beaches, but we’ll need to go back again to see them all.

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Mulhurst Bay is on the north side of the lake.  Driving down the south side we came upon the Village at Pigeon Lake which is a quaint little village with a number of shops. We did some shopping for our evening barbecue and sat outside one of the shops eating ice cream.

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Sherry also had some fun exploring.

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Evenings were spent playing rummy kub (of course).  Despite a sinus headache which plagued me all weekend we had a lovely time and will return, next time with the boat and fishing gear.

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September 12, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Walking in Saskatoon

A few weeks ago we went to Saskatoon for Asher’s graduation from high school.

While we were there we visited the University of Saskatchewan where Tracy is attending medical school and did a short walk around the grounds. The U of S is a research university and was founded as an agricultural college in 1907.  Its beautiful campus is on the east side of the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon.

 

We also took the opportunity to visit the Museum of Natural Sciences in the geology building of the University.  While small by most museum standards it was a fascinating journey through the evolution of life. The exhibits include living plants and animals as well as fossils, rocks and minerals – geological and paleontological specimens.    The exhibits continue in the corridors of the building with the first floor displaying minerals, rocks and meteorites and information panels explaining the causes of earthquakes and  volcanoes, and the second floor exhibits featuring the theory of evolution beginning with ancient seas , through ice age mammals to early human beings.

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University of Saskatchewan

We also found time to walk a portion of the Meewasin Trail which follows the South Saskatchewan River, running along both sides of the river, through well kept parks as well as natural areas where there is a good possibility of meeting up with the wildlife which frequent this area.

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August 1, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Widow Maker

This afternoon we drove out to the Kananaskis river and found a ‘picnic spot’ overlooking the Widow Maker, a rapid on the lower course of the river, which flows through Bow Valley Provincial Park.  The Widow Maker is just below an artificial lake, Barrier Lake, which is used for hydroelectric power generation.

The flow of water from Barrier Lake into this part of the river is remotely controlled by TransAlta who usually post the release times and flow rates so that the water flowing through the Widow Maker at any given time is predictable.  When we arrived the water level was low and instead of swift flowing rapids we looked out over a quiet pool. A couple of fishermen soon arrived and we watched as they flicked their lines over the pool, trying to entice a trout to their flies. (Tempting Brenda?)

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Within 20 minutes the scene had changed completely.  Water flowed down the river and over the rocks into the pool, forming the well known Widow Maker rapid and turning the quiet fishing pool into a swirling mass of water.  The fishermen wisely moved out and the canoeists started to arrive, entertaining us with their expertise and their many Eskimo or kayak rolls as they attempted to master the rapids.

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Later I took a short stroll along the pathway which followed the banks of the river to get another perspective of it.  In the quiet under the trees alongside the water I was struck anew by the beauty of this country and how blessed we are to be able to live here.

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A lovely afternoon spent in good company and in beautiful surroundings.

October 18, 2015 Posted by | Day Trips from Calgary, Living in Canada | , , , | Leave a comment

Sunshine Meadows

I’m having a wonderful, totally free Saturday so thought I’d catch up on some of my writing.  A couple of weeks ago I went with Ray and Brian on one of the most beautiful short hikes which I have done.  My photos aren’t wonderful – my camera is finally giving up the ghost – but I think they give some idea of the beauty of the landscape.  Although the weather had been reasonably warm, on the Friday before the hike it snowed in the foothills and up in the mountains, which always makes everything look just that much prettier.

We drove through to Banff and picked up the shuttle bus at the base of the Sunshine ski area – thus avoiding trudging 5 kms up a fairly uninteresting road.  The bus delivered us to the Trail Centre in the Sunshine Village where we started walking, after picking up a couple of hiking sticks for Ray and Brian.

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We set off up the Rock Isle Trail which climbs for about 1 km and is the steepest part of the hike.

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Near the top we reached the continental divide and crossed over into BC.

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This part of the trail looks out towards Mount Assiniboine among a number of other peaks and opens up into the alpine meadow where, unfortunately most of the wild flowers were buried under the snow.  A few hardy specimens shook their petals free and showed us what we were missing.

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We soon reached the Rock Isle Lake and spent some time there, just enjoying the vistas and taking numerous photos which fail to do justice to the scene.

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We were lucky enough to have started early and were alone most of the way around the trail, meeting a few more hikers later in the morning.  This made it possible just to soak in the views and the silence.

From Rock Isle Lake the path led down through the trees  and over a number of little creeks

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and a few more flowers showed themselves.

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We stopped to have a final look at the lake from the other side before carrying on.

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The right hand pathway led us down to and past Grizzly Lake. Many of the ‘bridges’ over the creeks are just a few (and in many cases, just one) roughly hewn logs placed over the water, some artistically rotting, making crossing not dangerous (there is no depth to speak of) but a challenge. The views were stupendous and we kept stopping to take photos and just enjoy being there.

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Brian found some small fish swimming about in one of the creeks which ran into the Grizzly Lake.

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Grizzly Lake is very different to Rock Isle Lake but just as beautiful and again we spent some time just looking and taking pictures.

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Not far past this second lake we came rather unexpectedly upon the Simpson Viewpoint.  The view was breathtaking! Looking down into the valley we suddenly realized just how high we were, walking above the mountain peaks.

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From the viewpoint we took a leisurely wander around the last of the lakes – Larix Lake – stopping occasionally just to enjoy the quiet beauty.

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A couple of Columbian ground squirrels entertained us along the way but I didn’t compete with Ray in photographing them as I think she must have taken dozens of pictures. The pathway looped around and joined up to the one leading back to Rock Isle Lake.  By the time we reached this lake again there were a number of groups of hikers starting along the trail, unfortunately accompanied by the inevitable loud music which seems to be unavoidable on popular hikes, so we were not sorry to have completed the trail.  Back down the hill towards Sunshine Village – the downhill rather hard on the knees – and we  went to the picturesque restuarant to book ourselves onto the next bus back and then enjoyed a nice relaxing meal and a beer while we waited.

This is a hike I would love to do again, perhaps a little earlier in the season when the wildflowers are at their best.  And next time I’ll take the first bus up.

September 19, 2015 Posted by | Day Trips from Calgary, Hiking, Living in Canada | , , | Leave a comment

Calgary is turning gold

Calgary is turning gold,

though the grass is still green and lush from the rain,

and the sun rides high in the pale blue sky.

The sparrows are bright-eyed and noisy and bold

as they fight for seed at the feeder.

Calgary is turning gold,

though the mountains hide in the shimmering haze

and the streams reflect the sun’s brightening rays.

On a shaded deck in the lazy heat

we bask in the dog days of summer

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But the trees know there will be snow

and Calgary is turning gold.

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Living in Canada, Verse and worse | , | 1 Comment

Fullerton Loop

Yesterday the Bragg Creek Woodland Walkers hiked the Fullerton Loop. This hike used to start at Allen Bill Pond (which is no longer a pond since the 2013 floods) but the trailhead is now accessed from the Ranger Station on the north side of 66, in the parking lot of the Ranger Station. Probably due to the change, the loop is given as anything between 5 and 7km. The elevation also seems to be in doubt – between 220 and 360m and the hike is listed alternatively as beginners’ or moderate.
We started just after 2pm and completed the loop by about 4.20pm with a short stop at the bench half way through the hike for water, a snack and to remove our jackets.

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We chose to do the loop counterclockwise, starting in the valley and climbing steadily through the forest. The path is fairly wide, enabling us to walk in pairs, but was very muddy in places.

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The trees are mature and for much of the way formed a partial canopy above us through which we could see the very blue sky.
The south end of the loop runs along a cliff overlooking the Elbow Valley giving lovely views of valley and mountains.

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Although not a difficult hike, my calves did feel the final ascent and my knees complained intermittently during the steep downhill back into the valley!
Still, an afternoon well spent and I look forward to doing the loop again when the mud has given way to grass and the wildflowers are out.

April 16, 2015 Posted by | Hiking, Living in Canada | Leave a comment

Snowshoe Hare Loop

This week I joined the Bragg Creek Woodland Walking Group again and we hiked the Snowshoe Hare Loop in West Bragg Creek.  This is a fairly new trail and has been set up for snowshoeing.  I suspect it will be a bit too marshy for enjoyment in summer.  Because we have had a week or more of really warm, spring-like weather much of the snow has started melting and the trail varied tremendously, from snow and ice to dry grassy pathways.

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A couple of short hills kept it interesting and there were a number of places where crampons would really have helped. As it was a few of us detoured under the trees to escape the ice.

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Although the trail is well marked we managed to get lost briefly

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but quickly picked up the path again and found a sunny spot in an open meadow to stop for a snack and a chat.

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The approximately 5km took us over two hours with the stops.

March 14, 2015 Posted by | Hiking, Living in Canada | , | 1 Comment

Picnicking at McLean’s Pond

Last weekend we visited McLean’s Pond for the first time this season. The sun was shining and the weather unseasonably warm so we decided to take Sherry for a run and have a picnic lunch.

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The pond was still frozen solid and, in fact, there were two groups of ice fisherman in the middle of it.

Richard walked out to chat to one of the groups and to see how they were doing

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Even Sherry ventured out onto the ice for a short distance,

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but, in view of the notice in the car park I decided that someone needed to be more prudent and stay on dry land in case an emergency rescue should be necessary!

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March 14, 2015 Posted by | Living in Canada | , , , | Leave a comment

Hiking in West Bragg Creek

Yesterday I joined a group of hikers walking a trail in a section of West Bragg Creek I didn’t know existed.  We started in Highland Place and trusted our leader to identify  the unmarked pathways which took us along the snowy loop and back to our cars.

After a cold snap the weather was lovely – up to 9 degrees – and the sun was shining.  The snow has virtually disappeared from our yard so I was surprised to find how much still lay on the ground under the trees.

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We passed the skeleton of a stag which had very probably been taken down by a cougar.  The hike organizer, who lives in the area and walks these paths often, told us that it took two days for the carcass to be reduced to its skeletal remains.  Her husband took the rack.

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Some of the trees, birch or aspens – I have difficulty telling the difference –  had had pieces of bark stripped from them, presumably by elk, or maybe moose.

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We had a number of dogs with us who enjoyed the hike as much, if not more, than the hikers.  They ran free through the woods and rolled in the snow. I was going to take Sherry with me but am glad I didn’t. Not only would she have vanished into some of the snow drifts, she would have been bowled over numerous times by the exuberant four legged hikers!

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All in all, a lovely afternoon, spent in beautiful surroundings and with good company. Hope to join the group again soon.

March 6, 2015 Posted by | Hiking, Living in Canada | , , | 3 Comments

Saskatoon revisited

This was my fourth visit to Saskatoon and, while some of our family lives there, we will probably make many more. So the challenge is to find something different to see each time.  We drove there this time in convoy with Tracy and the boys, their dogs and cat and our dog, Sherry.  On the way we stopped at a picnic ground at Alsask, on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan,  to walk the dogs (and the cat).

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During the week in Saskatoon we decided, in addition to our usual activities, we would visit Lake Waskesiu and take a ride on the Southern Saskatchewen River on the Prairie Lily.

In the end the day chosen for the drive to the lake, a trip of about 3 hours, was overcast and threatened rain and only Tracy and I chose to risk it.  It was worth the effort.  We had lunch at the Elk Ridge Lodge- the photo of which is unfortunately a little dark due to the low light –

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– before driving down to the lake itself.  The roads on the way to the Lodge and down to the lake were bounded by boreal forest. Who knew that the Prairies had so many trees?

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Lake Waskesiu is roughly in the centre of the Prince Albert National Park and is one of 7 major lakes in the park.   The name means elk in the Cree language, hence the Elk Ridge Lodge which together with cabins, cottages and townhouses provides accommodation for the many holidaymakers who enjoy the facilities at the Elk Ridge Resort.  There are a couple of public camping places nearer the lake and a little community of quaint shops and restaurants. Despite the development the lake itself looks serene and untouched and there are a number of hiking paths in the area. Unfortunately we did not have time to do more than wander along the banks near the town-site and visit a couple of the little shops.

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Our boat ride on the South Saskatchewan River was also taken in the rain.  This wasn’t really a problem since the rain was intermittent and the riverboat has both a canopy on the top deck and a heated cabin below.  The Prairie Lily offers a variety of cruises on the river, including dinner and brunch trips and can be booked for business and family events.

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We opted for a straight hour cruise up and down the river.  The hot chocolate we bought on board was lousy but the cruise itself was a fun way to see Saskatoon from a new perspective.  We passed the Delta Bessborough, also known as the Castle on the River – a beautiful hotel dating back to 1930 – where Tracy and I stayed when we first drove through to Saskatoon to look at purchasing a house there for the family.

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We also passed under a number of bridges, some of which sheltered flocks of pigeons, hiding out from raptors which apparently never think to look for them under a bridge!  Saskatoon has 8 separate river crossings and is known as the City of Bridges.

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The week went past far too quickly but I look forward to exploring Saskatoon and its surroundings further on our next visit.

 

September 13, 2014 Posted by | Day Trips from Calgary, Living in Canada, Travels | , , , | 1 Comment