South Coal Lake Hike: Lush and long

Highbush cranberry blossomsSouth Coal Lake is especially lush at the moment. The foliage is fresh and green from the recent rains. The trees continue to bloom—now we have highbush cranberry in addition to saskatoons and chokecherries. And the bluebells (Mertensis), the wild strawberries, and white Canada violets are just getting started.

The air buzzes with columns of fish flies (Chironomids) while flocks of black-faced Franklin gulls circle above.

The Coal Lake area is also grand. The lake is wide and long, the banks are high, and the trees tower above the trail.

Talking about Gwynne Valley at Hughston Stopover

In this setting, 22 hikers set out on Sunday like a marching row of ants. We brushed through the narrow path over meadows, through woods, and up and down hills—some of which featured ropes and stairs. We watched pelicans on the water and a hawk overhead. And Helen shared the the story of the geological origins and features of the Gwynne valley.

At the end, we said a big thank-you to the trail maintenance crew who put in extra long hours on Saturday to make this Sunday hike perfect.

You can find more photos on Flickr.

South Coal Lake

 

 

Ministik Berg Hike: Blossoms and Beavers

Twenty people came out to hike on our warmest day yet. The aspen leaves are still emerging, so most of the time we were only in dappled shade.

The Ministik Bird Sanctuary is a beautiful, undisturbed plot of land. The trail, which is narrow and discrete, wanders from pond to pond through aspen woods, up and down hills, and over boardwalks. We saw ducks, geese, and coots, and listened to the call of chickadees and warblers.The biggest impact on the land here is clearly the beavers. We even walked across a beaver dam.

Fruit trees are in bloom now. We saw saskatoons, pin cherries, red currants, and hazelnuts.
Saskatoon blossoms
The mushrooms are starting too. We spotted a false morel.
False morel

Fungus
On our return, we watched a muskrat swimming in one of the ponds.

It was an amazing day for pictures. Have a look on Flickr.

 

Hiking Source of the Blackmud

Last Sunday’s hike is definite proof that you should never, ever, hold out for “better weather on another day,” when you can hike the “Source of the Blackmud” in the middle of May.

Emerging sage

For if you did postpone, you would miss the cool fresh air on your face…the excitement of swallows shooting in and out of nest boxes…and the dazzle of emerging green foliage, early blue violets, and yellow buttercups.

 

 

Twelve hardy people participated in the hike. It was a pleasant day out for all of us.

Lunch was spent on a lovely hill overlooking the north end of North Coal Lake.