Snow Valley to North Saskatchwan River Hike

On May 24, 2020, we had our first group hike since the COVID-19 Pandemic. Nine people came out on the beautiful sunny Sunday morning, prepared to take all the precautions so that we wouldn’t provoke a rebound of the dreaded infection and mess up the government’s stats just as things were getting better.

How wonderful it was to hike with old friends again. Keeping the 2 meter distance wasn’t difficult, even as the trail grew more crowded with other walkers, runners, families with children, and bird watchers. It’s a good thing that we start our hikes so early in the day.

A highlight of the day was observing the baby owl perched high up in the branches, directly over the path. It looked a large ball of fluff.

Owlet

Our hike took us up to the mouth of Whitemud Creek and then left along the river. We could only go so far, as the trail was flooded because the waters were so high from recent rainfall. Here’s what Whitemud Creek looked like:

Lunch was outside the John Janzen Nature Centre, where we spread ourselves out among the many picnic tables.

Thanks to John Scotvold for leading the hike. You can find more photos on Flickr.

The Waskahegan Response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has turned our world upside down in so many ways. Between isolation and physical distancing, we’re all making adjustments. And this includes hiking.

Waskahegan Trail is Closed for Now

Please stay off the Waskahegan Trail until further notice. This puts us in line with the restrictions set out by Alberta Environment and Parks with respect to accessing public lands and recreation areas. Furthermore, staying off of landowners’ property at this time is an act of respect toward the people who are so generous to us in normal times. The last thing we hikers want is to add to their stress and violate their trust.

Until the trail opens again, please stay close to where you are. If you need a little cheer-up, why not relive old times by following us on Instagram? Our handle is @waskahegantrail. Each day we post a picture from our archive of 12,000 photos.

Memberships

As consolation for the trail closure, we have extended everyone’s membership by a year. And until further notice, any newcomers who decide to join now will get a membership extended up to February 2022. Visit the Membership page to join.

Waskahegan Trail Association business

We didn’t hold our Annual General Meeting, but we did produce the reports. You can read what we did in hiking, trail maintenance, permissions, and more right here.

Bunchberry Meadows Conservancy

Eleven people came out to hike on a cold and clear day, rather uncommon for March. Against a deep blue sky, the sun, now higher and brighter than at any time all this winter, cast a glowing light as it poured through the trees and lit up the pristine snow.

In the wintertime, Bunchberry Meadows is noted for its large forest of birch, including many very old trees, and the larch groves.

We had a magical moment when a large jackrabbit sat motionless off to the side and watched us while we walked by.

Other animals seen on this day were white-tail deer, here and there on the trail. And when Carissa scouted the trail earlier in the week she saw a Northern Shrike and heard a Grey Owl.

Back at the parking lot, there were chickadees and nuthatches hanging around some bird feeders. Carissa informed us that these feeders will be taken down. Well-meaning visitors had been going too far, placing pans of bird seed on the forest trails.

Such is the struggle between people’s soft spot for animals, and the need to leave the area as natural as possible for the wildlife.

If you visit Bunchberry Meadows, be aware that the sign is low-profile and easy to miss. Unless you know the road well, you’re likely to pass right by and eventually turn around once you figure it out. As a result, only eight of us arrived at the agreed-on time. The rest arrived later but still did the complete hike.

At the end of the hike, all eleven of us joined up at the picnic tables, which had been cleared earlier in the morning by Lee. By this time, the sun was warm enough so that we could eat our lunch without gloves.

Thanks to Carissa for scouting and leading the hike. You can find all our photos on Flickr.