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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See more pictures and a video of a BEAVER on Flickr

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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See more pictures on Flickr
2016-10-16 Hike: Whitemud Creek

Devon Trails Hike: And Suddenly It’s Winter

On today’s hike, nine of us descended on the bank of the North Saskatchewan river to take in the walk from the boat launch to the Lions Campground. It was a good test of our winter gear. Some of us determined that we will have to get mittens over gloves, better footwear, and thicker socks before the real winter comes.

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Much of the trail was a wonderland. Snow piled on leaves that were still attached to the trees made for fun game I call “Let’s Make a Blizzard.”

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At the campground, the residents were preparing for a Thanksgiving event. And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, they allowed us to come in and warm up around the magnificent fire.

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The lively topic at lunch was Where is the best place to buy bread?

Here are some of our suggestions:
Bon Ton Bakery
B&A Bakery
Cobs Bread

 

 

We took a lot of pictures. You can find the rest of them here
2016-10-09 Hike: Devon Voyager Park to Lions Campground