Bunchberry Meadows: A pocket of natural treasures

Bunchberry Meadows is a piece of land just west of the city, surrounded by expensive acreages. Originally, the land was owned by five families. Over the years they developed it into a private wilderness area for their own recreation. With sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and obviously a lot of hard work, they put in a network of easy trails.

The land is now owned and maintained by the Edmonton Area Land Trust and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.  As a result, today’s citizens enjoy an incredible hiking experience.

Nineteen people came out to hike this treasure, led by botanist Jerry Shaw.

Up and down hills defined by ancient sand dunes, we passed through old growth birch forests, a stand of huge, unique pines that we couldn’t identify, and an alley of larches. In the open areas, we walked past meadows and strolled on berms overlooking wetlands.

Early in the week, Jerry had marked the spot where he knew there was a patch of club moss (Lycopodiopsida). We only had to lift off the snow to view this unusual low-growing evergreen.

After an 8 km loop, we arrived back at the parking lot, and ate our lunch at the row of picnic tables, in the sun.

You can see more photos on Flickr.

Terwillegar Park to Fort Edmonton, with Smoky Tea and Yarn Bombs

The forecast mentioned possible freezing rain. After some debate, we deemed the risk of getting caught on the highways to be not worth it. Anyways, we had a good backup plan—a trail in the Edmonton River Valley that we particularly like. And from Century Park, it’s an easy drive to the parking lot at Terwillegar Park.

After a brief section in the woods, we emerged at the Terwillegar Footbridge. We crossed the river and proceeded to the Fort Edmonton footbridge to come back to the other side.

After our lunch in the Alfred Savage Centre, we paused at John Janzen Nature Centre where they were celebrating “Hibernation Hi-jinx”. They gave us a sample of black tea which they were making over the open fire. The tea’s subtle smoky flavour was refreshing. We were told by the Indigenous interpreter that in earlier days, they would have made tea with the fresh tips of spruce trees, or with harvested wild mint.

On the return, we noted the spot where a few decades ago the river bank gave way underneath a couple of houses. Only some sidewalk and concrete driveway remains.

On the trail back down to the parking lot we passed the famous yarn-bombed trees, which got us talking about knitting.

It was a great day after all.

There are more photos on Flickr.


How we’re acclimatizing this fall

How well we’re adapting to this cooler weather! On a day so gloomy that we could have been tempted to stay indoors, fourteen people instead came to hike in the Blackfoot Recreational Area. Our trail head was the Islet Lake Staging Area, and our lunch stop was in the Lost Lake Shelter.

The grasses have died back and fallen over, and the leaves have fallen off the trees. The rosehips and highbush cranberries will hang on for months to come. The water is not yet frozen. Under grey skies, it’s a moody scene. But to fourteen hikers, engaged in conversation, camaraderie, and exercise, it’s a refreshing and rejuvenating change of pace. We’re looking forward to doing more of this every Sunday.

You can see more photos from the hike on Flickr.