Live on Location

It was day camping time for the adventuresome six yesterday and we were down at Little Bow Provincial Park just east of Champion, Alberta. I had this terrific idea to present the Fur-iday Files “live on location” from the park—great idea, right?—but then there was no internet service.

So … instead … I did this …

Bare ground and spring sunshine. Oh, man. Heaven.

And, this morning, I’m feeling inclined to do this …

Short walk but a big day yesterday.

So, I’ll be back next Fur-iday, with the tale of our third installment of winter 20/21 day camping.

PS: In case anyone is concerned about the proximity of the humans in my banner image, this photo was taken pre-pandemic on an outing to Rosebud.

Snow in June!

You’re probably thinking that “Snow in June” isn’t a very promising title for a camping blog, but the snow was only in one place and made for a terrific roll. The rest of our recent journey was summery weather—warm, sunny, and buggy. The bugs don’t actually bother me too much, but they sure drive the humans to distraction.

The original camping plan was for a few days at one of many local campgrounds that recently reopened after the pandemic shutdown. Then T decided there was no reason not to add a couple of days and turn it into a bit more of a vacation. It was a long winter of postponed and then cancelled plans followed by a spring of isolation on the farm so I think she was ready for more miles than the short journey to Kananaskis or Severn Dam.

So off we went on the morning of her birthday, bound for Crimson Lake Provincial Park near Rocky Mountain House. She and I stopped there last spring on our way home from visiting T’s mom, I believe it was number eight of twenty-six in my 2019 season of lakes.

Aaahh…lake time.

Wikipedia says that Crimson Lake “received its name from the striking colours of the setting sun reflecting on the surface of its waters seen by an earlier trapper” but T and Nollind are pretty sure it has more to do with the voracious mosquitoes and subsequent bloodletting. Either way, it’s a beautiful spot with a nice campground, great walking trails, and we stayed there two nights.

Sunset walk at Crimson Lake.

Wednesday we were on our way west to another provincial park, Goldeye Lake. What should have been a happy arrival at this pretty lake in the foothills was disrupted by a flood in Simon the travel trailer. The campground road had some mega bumps and one of them managed to turn the tap on, which overflowed the sink down into the cupboards and onto the floor. T and Nollind normally turn the pump off when we travel but, oops, they forgot. I don’t think they will again. Our campsite looked like laundry day with everything hanging on lines.

What’s camping without at least one small disaster?

A hike around the lake, combined with a drying breeze and a lack of mosquitoes, put everything to right and the peeps were laughing and playing dominoes at the picnic table by evening (there may have been a drink or two involved).

Happier campers.

Thursday we drove to nearby Crescent Falls. It’s a bit of a bumpy ride from the highway to the falls but we left Simon behind at Goldeye so there were no concerns about further trailer disasters. The peeps loved the falls, took photos of them from many angles, oohed and aahed, but me, I was more interested in the other people, and their dogs. After all, it’s just a river that met a cliff, right?

Cooling my feet at the top of the falls.

While they watched three kayakers tackle the lower falls, I rested in the shade, watching the other visitors wander by. A few stopped to say hello and give me a scratch. But the best part? The picnic. Is there anything better than a picnic? I say, not likely.

Upper and lower Crescent Falls.

After another evening of campfire time and bluegrass jamming, we were on our way west on Friday morning to yet another provincial park, Thompson Creek. This park sits right on the edge of Banff National Park near Saskatchewan River Crossing. We were all a little concerned at first by the bright yellow signs posted all over the park, but we carried our bear spray just in case and never did see the resident bear.

They called this guy a “problem bear” but the people who fed him are the real problem.
Thompson Creek Campground.

I’m far more interested in what I smell than what I see, but I have to admit that our day trip to Athabasca Glacier was pretty cool, in more ways than one. That breeze that blows down off the glacier is refreshing, to say the least. We have some packed snow and ice that likes to linger in the spring around here, but did you know the Athabasca Glacier has been melting for over a hundred years and it’s still huge? How impressive it must have been when it flowed right down to the bottom of the valley.

The glacier used to go all the way to that building at the base of the mountain.

On the way back to camp, we stopped at Parker Ridge where there was still snow at the trailhead parking lot. Yup, quite a lot of it for June 12. The peeps weren’t interested in a snowy hike but stopped just for me because they know how much I love to roll in snow.

Going in for the roll!

Saturday morning was absolutely the best morning of the whole trip. Not because it was time to go home, although that was good too, but because I got pancakes and bacon for my breakfast. So, so, so delicious. The cute tablecloth and tableside fire were nice touches added by T, but, for me, it’s all about the food.

After one last walk around the campground, we started the journey home around noon, making a quick stop at Mistaya Canyon on our way south. I normally drink from every creek or river we come across, especially in the mountains where the water is cold and clean, but I passed on this one. T joked they could lower me down into the canyon on my harness for a sip. Ha ha. Very funny.

Mistaya Canyon

So, the first camping trip of the summer season is in the book (there is actually a little book that lives in Simon) and I’m sure hoping it won’t be the last. We came home to an injured horse—Nevada rolled onto an old stump and it punctured his hip—but I’m sure he’ll heal in time for us to venture out again soon.

If you talked to me on day one I might have said I don’t like camping, but it just takes me a little time to adjust to a new routine and a different bed. By day two or three of new places to walk and explore and sniff, I’m one happy camper.

And the bed doesn’t suck either.

Lakes and … More Lakes

Can you believe it? We managed to squeeze in not just one, or two, but three more lake stops on our way home from northern British Columbia. I was a happy hound.

We left Charlie Lake last Sunday after a teary farewell with T’s mom. She and I had a great visit. She even gave me a whole sandwich one afternoon, left it right there on a low table for me to help myself. For someone not accustomed to having dogs around she’s very considerate.

Picnic lunch in Hudson’s Hope (and yes, they shared).

We’d already said goodbye to T’s sister on Wednesday, so I was down to just one woman to spoil me as we set off for the same dog-friendly hotel we stayed at on our journey north. It was comfy and clean with no additional fees for me, right on the river for our evening and morning walk-abouts, and included a full breakfast big enough for T to share. Tough to beat.

The hotel’s backyard.

It was a cold, rainy day as we set out, but had cleared enough by the halfway point that we took a short detour to a place called Saskatoon Island Provincial Park near Grande Prairie for our midway walk break. T likes to stretch her legs every few hours and I am happy to oblige. Lake stop #1.

The path to Little Lake through aspen forest.

Saskatoon Island is just as the name might suggest, a piece of land between two lakes that is loaded with Saskatoon bushes. There weren’t any berries yet, but then I’m not a huge berry fan anyway.

We walked the trail to Little Lake, which is the smaller of the two lakes as you might have guessed, to a windy cove. I so wanted to go swimming but T was worried about the heavy algae that had blown into the bay, concerned it might mess with my digestive system. I suppose I get it. Diarrhea when staying in a hotel room would be a nasty thing to manage.

Can you see the tension on the leash? I really wanted to go in.

Legs stretched, bright green aspen trees enjoyed, we took a short tour of the busy campground (it was a holiday weekend in Canada) and the Saskatoon Lake boat launch area and were on our way.

I get comfortable with new places pretty quickly so returning to the Quality Inn was a bit like coming home. I trotted through the front door and went straight to the front desk to mooch a biscuit. Leaving the lobby to the right down a hallway instead of up the stairs was a bit confusing at first, but I guess that’s how hotels work…you don’t always get the same bedroom.

Movie time at the hotel. I do love a good movie.

Monday morning, after my bacon, hash browns, and toast second breakfast, we were driving on Highway 43 under sunny skies. T turned south on Highway 22, also known as the scenic Cowboy Trail. I’d seen her scouting the route south, looking for halfway hike locations, so I put my vote in for another lake stop. And she didn’t disappoint me.

Well worth the drive.

It was the longest off-highway detour we’d taken on our journey, fifteen minutes each way, but well worth the additional car time. Crimson Lake Provincial Park near Rocky Mountain House was the best lake stop yet. Wooded trails, a blue-green mountain lake, and a great beach for taking a dip. According to Wiki, the lake was named for the striking colours of the setting sun reflecting on the surface of its waters as seen by an early trapper. We didn’t get to see the sunset this time but, based on how T lit up during our short visit, I’d say we’ll be back.

A dip in Crimson Lake.

Again we toured the campground, more thoroughly this time, and I’m pretty sure T was picturing Simon in a bunch of the spots.

I’d barely settled in for the rest of the journey when we were pulling off the highway again. What? Another Lake? Yup, indeed. I’m not sure the name of the little lakes in this provincial recreation area, but it’s called Twin Lakes because there are, you guessed it, two of them! I’d had a good swim at Crimson Lake only a half hour before so we just walked a short trail to the larger lake and back. Lots of fish in this lake. I would have liked to sample a few.

The larger of Twin Lakes.

We break from our story for a quick lake tally. Sylvan, Sturgeon, Williston, Charlie, Little, Saskatoon, Crimson, and Twin. If I’m not mistaken, that makes eight lakes on our tour, nine if you count Twin as two! Do you think T likes lakes?

After a short tour of downtown Rocky Mountain House, we continued south on the Cowboy Trail, stopping in Sundre along the Red Deer River for our dinner stop and—can you believe it?—yet another walk.

Riverfront in Sundre at the Greenwood Campground.

As T oohed and aahed at the beautiful foothills landscape to the west of Highway 22, I settled in for the journey home, barely noticing when we turned east toward the prairie.

Somewhere along Highway 22, The Cowboy Trail.

Best. Road trip. Ever.