I hardly know where to start. What an awesome trip! And you know that my censor doesn’t let me use that word lightly, as is the habit of today. So, just this once, I’ll use it again—Awesome Autumn Alberta Adventure.
Maybe it was because we’ve spent so much time at home this year, or perhaps because fall was lingering and colourful well into October, or maybe just that we landed in four really terrific camp spots. Whatever the reason, the fall tour was a grand success.
As I mentioned two weeks ago, we kicked off the trip with three days at Sibbald Lake with friends G and S and their trusty sidekick Ria. Games, walks, laughs, wine, and food are common themes when this group gets together, walks and food being my favourites from the list.
Neither Ria nor I get the excitement with throwing golf balls attached to strings at ladders made of pvc pipe, but, hey, humans do a lot of things we dogs don’t understand. And likely vice versa. Different strokes for different species I always say.
The final night at Sibbald was the first sign of what was to come in terms of weather, when it got quite chilly during the post-dinner campfire hours. Fortunately, a senior dog like me gets a little extra consideration including being turned into a very cozy doggy burrito. Thanks, S.
We said goodbye to our campmates on Wednesday morning and drove south on Highway 40 through Kananaskis to the bottom end of the province. Our destination… another place new to us, Beauvais Lake. We didn’t have a lot of time to explore when we arrived just before sunset, but first view and sniff told me we were going to like it. Turns out, we liked it so much that two planned nights turned into five with side trips to Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass.
Day one we hiked Piney Point Trail through coloured forests of aspen and poplar trees, leaves drifting to the ground in the breeze, and incredible views west to the Rockies. T was actually teary at one point as she looked out over the landscape, ready to build a cabin right on the spot.
Of course, I notice smells more than sights and there was no shortage of human and animal scents to explore. And then there was Beauvais Lake itself for a drink when we came down off the hill.
Day two, Nollind took the truck to Pincher Creek for a leaky hose repair, and since T wasn’t feeling so great, she and I stayed back at the trailer. We set out for a walk when Nollind returned, but T was feeling worse, so they doubled back to camp, tucked me in, and drove to Pincher to a clinic. In the past, it’s been me or Logan needing to see a vet along the road so this was a new thing. I was worried and did what I always do when concerned, slept.
When they got back, T had a bottle of pills and, by Saturday morning, was already feeling a little better. So, off we went to the Crowsnest Pass just half an hour west. In February, we stayed in Blairmore during the Wintervention Festival. One of the walks we took during that winter stay was on the Miners’ Path at Coleman and it was fun to repeat the experience on this trip, sans February’s death-defying iciness.
With T on the mend, Sunday morning was spent circumnavigating Beauvais Lake, about a 6 km trail. This hike didn’t have the vistas of Piney Point, but there was plenty to see and smell along the shores and wetland areas, finishing off with the trail along the cabin section. I can’t say for sure, but I think T would really like one of those cabins on Beauvais, but, the provincial campground is a pretty fine second choice, close to the lake, the hiking trails, and open year-round.
Monday, it was finally time to leave Beauvais Lake. The plan had been to travel farther south to two locations, Payne Lake and Police Outpost Provincial Parks, but Fred’s leak problem hadn’t been fixed due to an out-of-stock part, so we drove to St Mary’s Lower Campground instead with plans to take the truck to Lethbridge on Tuesday morning.
At St Mary’s, we were treated to a campsite that backed onto the river plus a warm, calm afternoon for exploring the campground and surrounding area. Sometimes it’s those unplanned stops that turn out to be the real gems on a journey. Don’t you think? Tea and cookies in the sun (I do love ginger snaps) wrapped up another fine day before retreating inside from the cooling temps and a light rain.
Tuesday’s weather was damp but spirits were not when Nollind returned to camp with a fixed Fred. The trip we feared was going to end similarly to the last one, limping home with a broken truck, was not over yet!
Police Outpost Provincial Park sits right at the border between Alberta and Montana and features a pretty lake, a campground tucked into aspen woodland, and crazy cool views of Chief Mountain. First Nations people from both the US and Canada travel to the base of this mountain for sweet grass ceremonies and other religious rites and, if you’ve ever seen it, you’ll understand why.
It was windy and mostly overcast when we arrived at Police Outpost, so the peeps made the decision to venture along the lakeshore trail that first afternoon. We had the place to ourselves, the campground and the trail, and our walk included a long footbridge to the tip of an island. We do find the coolest places to walk.
It started to rain again that night, turning to snow in the wee hours and covering the ground by morning. T wanted to see the mountain shown in many of the photos of the park, but it wasn’t going to happen with the heavy skies. So, it was a snowy walk around the campground followed by a matinee in the trailer. I do love a matinee … it fits in so well with my nap time. Maybe it should be called a nap-inee?
By mid-afternoon, the sun was shining brightly on melting snow. The hike to the United States was on! Yup, that was our destination … Montana, USA. The southern boundary of Police Outpost Provincial Park lies right on the International Boundary and there’s a terrific trail, with views of Chief Mountain, to the border obelisk (and cameras). I’ve been across the US border in a vehicle five times now but never on foot and, since the land border is currently closed to nonessential traffic, this is the only border crossing I’ll experience this year. Nobody there but the cows to check my health papers.
The hike to the border was so much fun we did it again Thursday morning before packing up and heading out in a chilly northwest wind. Payne Lake was going to have to wait for another trip with snow on the ground and more headed our way, along with wintry temps. We’d rolled right through Mother Nature’s first winter pitch, but we wanted to be home and tucked in before she brought out her A game. And we were, just in time, with most of last Fur-iday to winterize trailer and farm.
With the border closed due to the pandemic, we won’t be trailer travelling to snowbird destinations anytime soon, sad to say, but I know there’ll be more adventures, probably snowy ones, in the months ahead.
Chico, Fur-iday Files correspondent signing off, from the farm.