Trappers Lake to Oster Lake

For the first time, in all the years of our collective hiking, the ten of us on this day saw Trappers Lake as an actual “lake.” Yes, the trail guidebook clearly shows a big lake on the map, but all we ever saw was a field of grasses—up to now. We have had so much rain this year that the body of water has risen high enough to reveal its shining self.

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The 11.5 km hike began with a walk through the lush pasture. A herd of cows in the distance ahead of us stopped their grazing and looked up. Suddenly they rushed toward us, bellowing. It was alarming, even nerve-wracking, but Anita assured us that they were just very friendly. We slipped through the large crowd of gorgeous red-brown beasts, thankful we were not causing them to stampede.

Friendly cows

Woodpecker
Farther on, two woodpeckers swooped down and landed on some trees in front of us. One was a majestic Pileated Woodpecker, the other was a smaller version, possibly a Hairy Woodpecker. They bounced around the tree trunk, knock-knocking here and there, then took off as quickly as they came.

It was supposed to be our first cold day, just 10 degrees after a long warm summer. But the air was dry and still, and the walking kept us feeling warm even though the sky was mostly cloudy. The mosquitoes seem to be finished.

The Park put up a new high fence and built a new ladder for us. It’s even higher than the old ladder.

New ladder

The trail inside the park was rich with varieties of fungus. We took pictures of nearly every kind. The flowers at this moment in the season are mainly asters and goldenrod. The only sighting of a bison was by Michele, from the top of that high ladder.

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Lunch was on the vast lawn at Oster Lake. Our conversation was punctuated by the honking of the geese as they flew back and forth above us.

See the rest of our pictures on Flickr

Observing the seasons through flowers

Most of our prairie herbs, shrubs and trees flower in the spring months. Some are still flowering in late July. By mid August most flowers except for asters, goldenrod and several composite flowered ground plants, have finished flowering and are starting to show enlarged seed pods or fruit, some with attractive color patterns.

By mid August this year at the Ministik bird sanctuary and around the east side of Saunders Lake one could spot some of these colorful seed pods along the edge of the just-maintained trail. These include

Fairy bells
Fairy bells
  • Solomon’s seal—maroon strips on green
  • Fairy bells—bright red dime-sized balls
  • Dogbane—long green,  turning bright red, bean-like seed pods from the sweet smelling flowers around a high ridge around a beaver pond experienced in June.

Do the colors help in seeing distribution?

Many leaves of lilies with their characteristic venation were found also.

Within 100 feet of the sign of the Caernarvon Farm at the north east corner of Saunders Lake, we found Jewelweed with its orange flowers—Impatiens capensis Meerb forma citrina (Weath.), according to Grays Manual of Botany (8th ed.). This is the first time I’ve seen it in western Canada.

I would be interested to know if others have seen this in southern Alberta where there may be poison ivy. Sources on the Internet say that you can crush and rub jewelweed over poison ivy contact spots to denature the plant’s uroshiol poison.