Middle Battle River

Fifteen people came out to hike the trail west from Ross Flats (formerly Duhamel) campground.

These days, it’s hard to know how to dress hike when the mornings start so cold and fresh. Thank goodness for layers, because even though the skies remained overcast, the day warmed up comfortably.

And there were almost no mosquitoes! This really is the best time of year to hike.

In the oldest part of the forest, where it is least dense, there are ripe elderberries everywhere. In other areas, we found flora that we don’t normally see, probably because of all the moisture we’ve had this year.

Along a ditch, we found swamp smartweed, in a meadow we found an early blue violet blooming again, and in the forest we found a prominent tapioca slime mold (Brefeldia maxima).

Thanks to trail maintenance for their work in clearing the trail. You can find more photos on Flickr.

Ministik Hike: Mossy Muskeg and Fabulous Fungi

Eleven people came out to hike the trail in the Ministik Bird Sanctuary. Except for chickadees and some downy woodpeckers, the birds weren’t making themselves obvious. Instead, the natural treasures we observed were the moss-covered muskeg and peat bog, an enormous variety of well-developed fungi, and a patch of yellow rattle.

Three of the hikers took the “Smell the Roses” route to see the yellow rattle, a “pretty wildflower that attaches to grass roots and suppresses their growth enabling wildflowers to flourish in grass lawns and meadows” (wildflowerlawnsandmeadows.com).

The other eight followed the trail that led to Horseshoe Lake. Early on, we reached the muskeg section—an old spruce forest with ground covered in a thick, delicate layer of moss punctuated with ferns and Labrador tea bushes. We stepped through carefully on the straight path and came out to a spongy patch of pure peat moss, where blueberries and other uncommon plants grow.

This whole area is obviously sensitive to footsteps. Our Trail Maintenance and Permissions coordinators are currently working to get permission to reroute the trail around the area. This will protect the beauty of the landscape and should enable us to use the trail in wet seasons.

Here are just some of the fungi we saw on this hike:

Thanks to Anita and Jerry for leading the hike and to trail maintenance for their efforts in staking out the proposed new reroute. You can see more photos on Flickr.

Saunders Lake Berry Hike

This hike was designed for the berry season, but it seemed fall in the middle, between saskatoons and chokecherries. Nevertheless, elderberries are in full swing and highbush cranberries are not far behind.

Five people came out to enjoy this trail that runs alongside the lake, alternating between meadow and woodlands. Below is the prize we’ve been waiting to see all summer—a spectacular giant puffball.


Thanks to Stella for leading this hike and to trail maintenance for clearing the trail. You can find more photos on Flickr.