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.

East Battle River and famous features

Twenty-one hikers came out to discover the famous features of the East Battle River section of the trail.Prairie Crocus

At the base of the plateau, we stumbled upon the cacti. After scrambling to the top of the plateau, we enjoyed the sweeping vistas and stepped around the prairie crocuses (Anemone patens).

 

Just as famous as the crocuses is the hill, “Rest and Be Thankful” where we climbed straight up to have our lunch, and actually rest.

On our return, we examined an animal spine and skull, and almost stepped on a garter snake.

Total distance was around 9 km.

View our pictures on Flickr

Rest and Be Thankful

Symphony of Birds

Everyone agrees that when it comes to music, nothing beats a live performance. It’s even more true when it comes to bird sounds.

As the sixteen of us walked the 5 km stretch along Saunders Lake, we listened to the distinctive and familiar calls of red-winged blackbirds, Canada geese, ducks, and gulls. Those were the sounds we knew.  Or as Gail described it, the “vocal conversation.”

There were many more bird calls that were not so familiar.

The first unusual birds we saw were several pairs of black and white ducks. These turned out to be the tufted duck (Aythya fuligula), which are increasing in numbers.Tufted duck, Saunders lake

Next, we watched an American eagle soar and then land in its huge nest across the lake.

While we rested under the still-leafless trees, swallows swooped in overhead. Jerry pointed out the sound of sandhill cranes high above us, but most of us we were too comfortable eating our lunches, or engaged in conversation, to get up and have a look.

A red-tailed hawk screeched at us as we headed back.

The total hike was around 10 km.

View our pictures on Flickr

Saunders Lake Hike group