Stoney Creek Flower Show (hike)

We have a standing item in our calendar to ensure we hike Stoney Creek every mid-July. That’s when the prickly pear cactus is in bloom. This species is normally confined to southern Alberta, but it finds a perfect home on the slopes of the hoodoos in the McGhee Basin.

This year, we were provided with an extra amount of rain which created a showy abundance of many other kinds of wildflowers, some rarely seen. Nineteen people came out to step around the puddles, explore the field and hillsides, and enjoy great conversation and camaraderie.

Thanks to Elizabeth and Gerry for leading the hike and providing so much fascinating detail on the flowers. You can see more photos on Flickr.

Hastings Lake and Allen Nature Trail

Thirteen humans—and one duckling—came out to hike the trail down to Hastings Lake. Very occasionally a local dog will try to tag along, but not a wild animal. We became aware of the duckling when the first car arrived. It chased the car! As soon as we started on foot, it ran behind us.

Yes, it was cute, but it was also sad and distressing to watch. It was clear that this duckling was not going to be long for this world. After it had followed us for almost 2 km, we came close to a large pond usually frequented by other ducks. We set the duckling in the water and walked away. When we passed by the pond on the return, we did not see the duckling.

Hopefully this situation is so rare that we’ll never see it happen again, but it would be good to know if there is a better way to handle it. If you know what the protocol is for these cases, let us know in the comments below.

We arrived at the Allan Nature Trail and met with the landowners. Together we visited Hastings Lake and viewed American Avocets through binoculars.

Then we gathered at St. Margaret’s Church and had lunch outside with the Allens. St. Margaret’s Church is a historic building that is only opened for special occasions. The next public event is the annual church service on August 25.

Thanks to Anita for leading the hike and to trail maintenance and the Allens keeping the trails clear. You can see more photos on Flickr.

Trappers Lake and Ross Creek

Trappers Lake is surrounded by a flat area of water-loving grasses, covering an area that is probably wider than the lake itself. Five years ago, the water was not even visible. But the drought has been over for years and the lake is filled with waterfowl.

Trappers Lake

But when we get as much rain as we did in the last few weeks, the water floods over the trail. As a result, when we hiked the trail last week, we came close to losing our squeamishness about walking in pools of water up to our ankles.

Fortunately, the weather was warm and sunny, and we were able to cheer each other on as we hopped and splashed.

We took the ladder at the high fence into Elk Island Park. and watched a deer browse nonchalantly at the edge of the beaver pond as we ate our lunch.

We returned to our cars and drove on to the Ross Creek section for different walk. This trail, which is only 1.5 km long, stays high and dry above the creek as it runs along a stand of larches and into dark, mossy woods.

Thanks go to the two trail maintenance work parties who cleared and signed these sections and to Lee for scouting the trail and leading the hike. You can find more pictures on .