A Day Along the North Saskatchewan River

Ten people came out to hike along the North Saskatchewan River from Whitemud Creek to Hawrelak Park. The day started with a light sprinkle and finished with blue sky and scattered white clouds.

We were startled to see the Edmonton Riverboat resting halfway onto the shore near the outlet of Whitemud Creek. In December “an ice jam in downtown Edmonton broke free which resulted in some wildly fluctuating river levels. In a very short period of time…the river level rose and fell by 2 meters. The Edmonton Riverboat rose with the water levels and the port (shore side) came to rest on the ice flow.”

Edmonton Riverboat at Whitemud Creek

Since April, the company has been assessing the damage.

We crossed the Quesnel bridge and resumed our hike through Laurier Park, a popular off-leash area and also the location of the Edmonton Rowing Club and Yorath House.

Laurier Park

At Hawrelak Park, we had our lunch in a large picnic spot near the edge of the river. On the way back, we took the trail that leads up to Saskatchewan Drive and turns down Keillor Road, which is now a multi-use path.

One of the day’s highlights was stopping for our group photo at the lookout known as “End of the World”.

End of the World

Thanks to Anita for leading this hike. You can find more photos on Flickr.

Millwoods South: a Gem of a Trail

This hike followed the section of Mill Creek Ravine south of Whitemud Drive, starting in the Silver Berry neighborhood of Millwoods. Some of us remember when much of this land lay outside the Edmonton city limits.

Today it is a well-established, largely multi-use trail, that criss-crosses the creek numerous times on bridges. The scenery on the trail varies tremendously, from deep deciduous woods, to stretches alongside elegant homes with landscaped backyards, to a few quiet meadows.

At this time, the paths are lined with the blooms of fragrant wild rose shrubs, snowy white Canada anemone, bunchberry, and wintergreen.

In the forest next to the Moravian Cemetery, we found this huge patch of pink wintergreen (6 inches high) and several stands of spotted coralroot orchids (18 inches high). From these pictures, they look like they should be related, but biologically they are quite different.

Ten people took part in the hike. Lunch was at the park next to the Millwoods golf course. It was good to have park washrooms open again.

Thanks to Johanna for leading this hike. You can find more photos on Flickr.

Lavish ponds of the Blackfoot Recreation Area

For this hike, we went deeper into the country than we had since spring, into the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area in the heart of the Beaver Hills Biosphere.

The trail from the Waskehegan Staging Area (not related to the Waskahegan Trail—note the difference in spelling) had been scouted on Thursday.

So the eight of us knew exactly what was in store for us. Although the rains had made a mess of some of the trails, the lushness of the vegetation and the filled-to-the-brim ponds more than made up for it.

The humidity and the mosquitoes were no match for us. Especially when we were treated to these water calla in full bloom. There were mounds of these in almost every pond.

Thanks to John for scouting and leading this hike. You can find more photos on our Flickr album.