Saunders “Saunter” left us speechless.

It was an extraordinary day…and we have pictures that say it all.

The hike was the north section of the trail along Saunders Lake. The cold and rain probably scared many people out of even thinking of coming out. But for the eight of us who braved the weather, it was worth every minute.

The abundance of saskatoons was incredible. And the flowers in bloom are just as varied as ever.

We saw warblers, a ruddy duck, an owl, pelicans…and the remains of a nest.

 

The highlight was watching a fawn on the path lope (saunter?) toward us. As quietly as we could, and making as little motion as possible, we snapped photos. Eventually, the fawn stopped coming further. It turned around and disappeared into the woods. We let it get far ahead before we resumed the hike.

 

 

 

 

 

And then on our return after lunch, a few of us stopped at a clearing to examine a plant. For some reason, we all looked up at the same time…and saw a porcupine asleep in a tree.

After those two encounters, there’s nothing left to say…except check out the photos on Flickr. There are 71 of them.

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.