Benefits of a Hike in the Rain

The theme song that was most appropriate for today’s hike became B.J. Thomas’ 1970 hit from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:

Raindrops keep falling on my head Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head
But that doesn’t mean my eyes
Will soon be turning red
Crying’s not for me, ’cause
I’m never gonna stop the rain by complaining,
Because I’m free, ’cause nothing’s worrying me…..

The rain didn’t dampen the spirits of a dozen hikers as we hiked the 10.2 kms from Waskahegan Staging Area to the Meadow Shelter for lunch and back.  The rain alternated between a drizzle and a downpour as we navigated the muddy Lost Lake trail.  We all were dressed for the weather so we remained upbeat. A few hikers were even prepared with umbrellas that were equipped with down right deadly spokes sticking out in all directions. We were careful to avoid these rainy-day hazards.

Rain gearOther hazards on this Sunday’s hike included significant stretches of slick trails, distinct odours caused by twelve perspiring hikers wearing non-breathable rain gear, and heavy hiking boots with a couple inches of clay weighing them down. Despite the challenging conditions, cheerful interpretations of B.J. Thomas’ song were heard—even though our hoods covered our ears and the noise of the rain splatting on us was competing with our creative lyrics.

It was Bonnie who pointed out the obvious benefit of a rainy hike.  “A rainy hike out here in the country,” she said, “is like filling up at an oxygen bar.” Some of Bonnie’s friends clearly became intoxicated at Nature’s Bar and were giggling like a couple of school girls as they tried to maintain their balance on parts of the trail.

Besides the effect of oxygen-rich air  (it’s been said that rainy air has double the oxygen molecules), other highlights of our hike included the sighting of a white snowshoe hare standing out like a beacon on the brown earth, some far-off white water birds in Arrow Head Lake, a sweet Downy Woodpecker, and signs of beaver hyper-activity associated with some astonishingly massive beaver lodges. Oh yeah…and for me, the Peek Frean that Stella shared with me at lunch…..mmmm..

Good times in the rain!

Beaver lodgebeaver activity

 

 

Blackfoot Recreational Area

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2016-11-06 Waskehegan Stage to Meadow Shelter

Getting off the Pavement at Islet Lake

The trails at Islet Lake are for “glam” hikers.  However, no one seemed to mind having the opportunity to walk three or four abreast and use an outhouse every few kilometres!  The trails we hiked this Sunday are part of the 170 km of regularly maintained multi-use trails in the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area. Islet Lake

Our welcoming committee, as we naturally understood, was the swans and ducks gathered in an icy pond just before the Islet Staging Area.   When Jerry and the carpools finally arrived at the staging area, the fifteen of us were ready for take off.

Islet LakeThere was still some snow and ice on the trail which turned into mud by the end of the hike.

Along the way Marco was startled by a beaver that slapped its tail hard on the water in one of they many ponds.  Ducks and muskrats shared the ponds with beaver and along the trail we scared up a ruffed grouse.  Everyone noticed many squirrels very busy racing erratically in every direction and heard the rather eerie, low, garbled croak of ravens overhead. The highlight for many of us, however,  was a timely flock of graceful white swans that flew over us as were enjoying our lunch at the Lost Lake Shelter.

Nature and its generous splendour is always a highlight of our hikes, but the other great part of the WTA are the fellow hikers.  How refreshing it is to be with people who choose to get off the pavement; like-minded nature lovers, who do not seem to be concerned about acquisitions, name-dropping, one-upmanship or—dare I say it—fashion.  Every hike is an invigorating reminder of how the simple things like great friends and the great outdoors can truly bring us the greatest fulfilment. Upon reflection, a hike with the WTA is always time well spent!

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2016-10-23 Hike: Blackfoot Islet Lake

Whitemud Creek and beavers

The hike began with some confusion as there was absolutely no parking at our starting point, Snow Valley. A big ski swap sale was happening and it was very well attended, with people waiting in long lines to get in. We moved our start over to Whitemud Park and headed south into the Whitemud Ravine and Whitemud Nature Reserve.

Whitemud Creek

Led by Oscar, we took frequent stops and admired the scenery from various scenic viewpoints. We studied the creek from the many bridge crossings. We appreciated the silence and feeling of being out in the country even though we were in the heart of the ravine.Whitemud Creek

Beaver
You can just make out the beaver on the left

It was on one of these stops that a hiker spotted a large beaver tucked up on the opposite bank lunching on a branch, or more likely the bark on the branch.

At another stop, we spotted a beaver swimming upstream around a small bend.

We saw both red and grey squirrels and were scolded by some. It appears there are bird lovers that frequent the Ravine and leave birdseed for the birds. The many chickadees we saw were the beneficiaries of their kindness.

Thanks to Oscar for a lovely hike.

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2016-10-16 Hike: Whitemud Creek