Hike from Whitemud to Hawrelak Park

Fifteen of us descended on Whitemud Park to take in the hike to Hawrelak Park. It was a perfect day to be out in the suddenly warm temperatures and enjoying what should be the final weeks of winter.

We started out by heading west to cross the river on the Quesnel bridge. It was here that we saw the earliest sign of spring—a ribbon of open water on the North Saskatchewan River. Although the weather was mild, the ground still had a good cover of packed snow. That made it very easy for walking except on the very steepest of slopes.North Saskatchewan River

We even spotted a few ravens along the way to the footbridge.

At Hawrelak Park, the Silver Skate Festival was in full swing. We ate our lunch at the main pavilion, and noted the synchronized skating teams rehearsing their moves on the patio.

After lunch, we walked up to the ice castle, then turned back and watched the ice sculpturers busy at their work. This year’s theme appears to be Canada’s 150th birthday. Creations included monuments to the voyageurs and the Last Spike.

Hawrelak Park ice castle

As we made our way back along the south bank of the river, the sky brightened.

In total, we walked 9.5 km.

Thanks to everybody for coming out and making it such a great day.

Check out our pictures on Flickr

2017-02-12: Hike Whitemud to Hawrelak Park

Winter Hike from Blackfoot Staging Area

Blackfoot Staging Area hikersTwenty people from Edmonton, Camrose, and places in between came out for Sunday’s hike. Starting at the Blackfoot Staging Area day use site, Irene led us on a 10km portion of the trails in this vast environmental and recreational treasure.

And as he had promised, Scotty got a fire going for our lunch.

And as usual, there was lots of great conversation and camaraderie.

Since the weather had warmed up these last two weeks, we made good use of our grips on the icy patches. We’re hoping the snow cover hangs on here for a successful Birkebeiner, which will be taking place in this park in just two weeks.Blackfoot Staging Area

Visit our Flickr album for the Blackfoot Staging Area pictures.
2017-01-29 Hike: Blackfoot Staging Area

Oster Lake

In the wintertime, when the natural world is slumbering under a blanket of snow, we still find country hikes vastly different from city trails. At least, this is what the 11 of us found out on today’s hike around Oster Lake in Elk Island National Park.

For one thing, we found unexpected silence and solitude. The Tawayik Lake parking lot was at least 60% full when we started out on the trail. But the area is so vast that we came across no more than ten small groups in the five hours we were walking on the trail.

The other thinTree bark eaten by animalsg is that the natural world is not really slumbering. We saw the traces and tracks of animals everywhere—the footprints of small creatures all over the pristine snow…the tree branches that had been chewed bare of their tasty and nutritious bark by hares…the beaverlodge which had a well-worn path in its snow cover from the top down to the ice, betraying where the beavers enter their home…and the circles of ground where the snow had melted, because a small herd of ungulates had bedded there for the night.

Squirrel tracks in snow

In the wintertime, we love getting outside for the fresh air and exercise. But a trip into the country gives us so much more. Peace and quiet…truly fresh air…and a strong impression of how the wildlife around us get themselves through the winter.

You can experience this again in two weeks, when Irene leads the hike in Blackfoot Recreational Area on the south side of Highway 16. (And some of us are bringing our snowshoes. If you have them, bring yours.)

Here is a link to some more pictures from today’s hike.
2017-01-15 Hike: Oster Lake