The Secret Dark Side of the Waskahegan Trail

The Waskahegan Trail presents unique opportunities for us to surround ourselves in trees, flowers, wildlife, and interesting geological formations, all within an hour’s drive at the most. You may even be one of those people who enjoy rising early to take in a hike.

It might surprise you to know about another unique environment available to us—after sunset!

Here in our area we have an almost rare opportunity to easily observe stars and planets on any clear evening. The Beaver Hills area is one of just thirteen areas in Canada designated as a Dark Sky Preserve. This designation by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) means it is “an area in which no artificial lighting is visible and active measures are in place to educate and promote the reduction of light pollution to the public and nearby municipalities.” The Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve covers all of Elk Island Park and the entire Beaver Hills area, including the Blackfoot Recreational Area.

We are grateful to WTA member Rod Wasylishen for informing us that the RASC Edmonton Centre has a special viewing site at the Blackfoot Staging Area  (travel southeast of the Ukrainian Village from Highway #16 east of Edmonton, or see page 89 of the Waskahegan Trail Guide Book).

On weekends closest to New Moon, you will likely encounter RASC members at the site, personally observing with their own equipment. If you decide to go, please visit their main dark site page first and pay close attention to etiquette. It takes half an hour to get eyes fully dark adapted. If you come in with headlights on, or start snapping selfies, you will not be welcome.

If you are not comfortable with driving without headlights and the other etiquette guidelines, remember that the Dark Sky Preserve is a huge area. As Rod notes, “One can go anywhere in Elk Island Park or the Cooking Lake Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area for much better viewing conditions than we have in the city.”

If you end up visiting this rare secret world of night sky viewing, send us a comment. We’d love to hear about it.

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AGM elects new board

At the AGM on Friday evening, the reports  of the past year were given and a new board was elected. The board members for the coming year are

President – Buck Buell
Secretary – Johanna Fischer
Treasurer – Alizah Bright
Directors – Karen Bell, Sandra Carruthers, Terry Elrod, John Raposo, John Scotvold, Jerry Shaw, Lee Stickles, and Marilyn Tichkowsky.

The Order of the Laces was awarded to Darlene Barnard. This award recognizes the person who attended the most guided hikes in the previous calendar year.

Following the business meeting, Stephanie Weizenbach, outreach coordinator of the Edmonton & Area Land Trust, gave an inspiring presentation on the goals and progress of the EALT and four of the major properties under its trust.

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Stoney Creek photos

This is one of our favourite Waskahegan hikes, southwest of Camrose in mid July.
Do you have pictures of a recent hike to share? Send an email to information@waskahegantrail.ca.

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2016 Annual General Meeting

You are invited to attend, socialize, and elect new board members at the

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING & SOCIAL

7:00 p.m., Friday, April 15, 2016
Strathcona Baptist Church
8318 – 104 Street, Edmonton

Note the NEW LOCATION (it’s not Avonmore). You can get directions and a map here (opens in a new window).

The business and elections will be followed by our guest speaker:

Stephanie Weizenbach
Edmonton and Area Land Trust

Light refreshments will be provided.

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Ministik Country Hike

Lake Oliver

This year we had a unique opportunity to escape to the real country in just before Christmas. Fresh air, clean snow, and no noise except from the chickadees, woodpeckers, and human voices of your fellow hikers.

The Vogels led us on private and public trails, with a lunch stop at their private cabin, where we were treated to a roaring fire.

See our pictures at the photo gallery

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