Ministik Berg Hike

Nineteen people came out to hike the Ministik Bird Sanctuary. This is an area we had not hiked for a few years. Most of the path is through dense bush, so we understood quite well what a challenge it must have been for the trail maintenance work party to do the clearing for this hike.

The whole area is dotted with sloughs, which makes it very attractive for nesting birds.

When we reached Williams Lake we stopped for lunch. A pair of swans were in the distance.

On the way back, we checked in on the Berg Stopover, which was built in 1984 on the private land of Dr. Berg, a former dean of Agriculture and Forestry at the University of Alberta.

Thanks to Lee for scouting and leading the hike and to Trail Maintenance for a job well done. You can find more photos on Flickr.

Beyond Waskahegan: Goldeye 2020 Highlights

The planning for this trip was almost last-minute, in Waskahegan terms. In August we tested the notion with the subscribers on our email list, and in just a few days, we were up to 16 sign-ups.

It wasn’t too surprising—after the self-isolation and lockdowns imposed for the pandemic, many people were ready to escape to the country. And we knew that doing it with fellow Waskahegan members would be more fun than almost anything.

And so the 16 Waskahegan members spent four days hiking in the David Thompson country. As this was the first Beyond visit for the majority of the members, we were pleased to visit many trails that had been done on previous trips.

Tuesday we arrived at Nordegg and went straight to Shunda Lake (Fish Lake) for lunch and a walk all the way around. The weather grew brighter as the afternoon wore on. After supper, we sat around a campfire well into the evening.

On Wednesday we hiked the trail above Bighorn Creek to Crescent Falls. After lunch there, we drove south to the Cline River. We hiked along the river, and then turned up to hike the first part of the Coral Creek trail up to the horse trail. The weather was spectacular.

That evening, a group of us played Pictionary in the dining room.

Thursday’s weather was even warmer. The majority of the group went south to the Kootenay Plains and hiked the Siffleur Falls. We even discovered how to get to the third falls, which turned out to be amazing. Four hikers traveled north instead, and hiked up to the top of Coliseum Mountain, famous for grand views of the whole area.

When we met again at the centre, a few of us jumped into Goldeye Lake for a chilling but refreshing swim.

In the evening, we celebrated Anita’s birthday with a “mountain” cake made by Goldeye’s chef. The cake had an icing waterfall and trees, and 16 fancy toothpicks representing the hikers.

After supper, hiker Ilona Ryder gave us a reading from Here’s Looking at You, Kids!, her biography of her grandfather, the prolific director Michael Curtiz, and his many hidden families. Following the reading, almost all of us went in for a raucous game of Pictionary.

On Friday after breakfast, we packed our bags and hiked around Goldeye Lake and the fire ecosystem trail, ending with lunch at the edge of the lake.

The whole week we were fed extremely well by the Goldeye staff. The rooms and the facilities were great as usual and the hospitality was impeccable. We will return again.

You can find more photos on Flickr.

Middle Battle River Westward Hike

Eleven people came out to hike the Middle Battle River from Peter Fidler’s monument to the “site of the old house”.

It was a day full of surprises.

First, we learned that a wasp nest had fallen right next to the trail in a dense part of the woods. Some members on the trail maintenance work party a few weeks earlier had been bitten. Sure enough, the wasp nest was still there, and the wasps were still buzzing and circling and flying in and out. One at a time, keeping 10 feet apart, we sneaked past quietly so as not to disturb them. Success! On the way back however, after five of us got past without problems, the wasps decided to launch an attack on the next hiker—the same one who had been bitten twice at trail maintenance! She sustained over a half-dozen bites.

Do wasps have a memory, or did we push them too far? We don’t know, but the remaining hikers bushwacked their way around the nest, certainly the safest action to take if you can manage it.

The second surprise on the trail was seeing a long, elegant red-sided garter snake. No photos, unfortunately—it moved too quickly to stay in focus.

The third surprise was the herd of friendly cows. As we made our way along the edge of the pasture, these beautiful jet-black creatures rushed up to us. We carried on, only slowing down to take photos. It is our rule that we do not to interact with farmers’ animals—nevertheless, a friendly herd is an awesome sight for city people.

With the cooler temperatures, we are now in the finest days of the hiking season—not too hot and not too cold. Fall flowers and fungus are abundant.

Thank you Lee for scouting and leading the hike and thank you Trail Maintenance for the huge effort in clearing the trail. You can find more photos on Flickr.