Foto Fur-iday: Home, Home on the Range

I’ve had the chance to explore a lot of cool places in my life and many of these adventures have been written about in my blog posts of the past nine years. This year alone, despite the pandemic that’s kept us closer to home, we’ve been to Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains, to the David Thompson region of central-west Alberta, to the north near the boundary with British Columbia, and to the far southwest of the province along the Cowboy Trail. It’s been quite a year.

But, the reality is, for every day we were away on an excursion somewhere, we spent at least ten here at home on the prairie. Since our step-out-the-door-and-pick-a-direction adventures often don’t make my blog posts, I’ve picked some photos from the summer and fall to show you where I trek on the days we don’t get in the car or truck and go somewhere.

Along the irrigation canal is always a favourite direction,
partly because I can stay wet and cool on the warm days,
by doing some of this,
followed by some of this.
And it’s also just a really great place to explore.
For a different kind of adventure, once the farmers have harvested their fields, we walk southwest,
or south to visit these strange looking neighbours,
or sometimes northwest,
or due east.
We don’t even have to leave the property for a great walk,
and a visit with the horses.
The snow will ultimately have an impact on where we can walk,
and how much time it takes to go the same distance,
but for now it just changes the scenery.

With winter on our doorstep, a closed border to our winter camping grounds in the southwest deserts, and a pandemic discouraging visiting and travel, there’ll be a lot more roaming the home range in the coming months. Stay tuned!

Hike ‘n’ Brew

Back in September I wrote about an alternative adventure we took, when we weren’t able to go on our planned camping trip due to truck troubles. We wandered out to the Cochrane area, took some walks, visited a brewery, and had just the best day.

Brown-Lowery Provincial Park

Well, a couple of weeks later, when we still didn’t have a truck, we went wandering again. It seemed the hike ‘n’ brew was too much fun to not be repeated. This time we visited Brown-Lowery Provincial Park southwest of Calgary. This is a day-use-only park with 12 km of trails through the forest with some views of the Rocky Mountains from up high.

The view from the top.

We hiked the trail that circumnavigated the whole park, taking a scenery and water break at the viewpoint. It was another warm day so I was pretty pleased the peeps thought to bring my water bowl along.

Brown-Lowery trail.

After the walk, we went in search of the brew part of the hike ‘n’ brew equation, driving further south to the town of Black Diamond and the Hard Knox Brewery. Much to my delight, beer and dogs go together in the minds of beer makers and, because Hard Knox doesn’t cook and serve food in their establishment, I could even go inside with T and N while they made their selections. Crazy, right?

I wonder what beer tastes like.

It was too nice a day to drink indoors so we grabbed a table in the beer garden. Did you know that beer grows in a garden? I did not. Odd thing was, there were no likely beer-producing plants in the garden that I could see, just grass for me to lie on and tables and chairs for the humans. Nollind had a beer, T had a collection of tiny beers, and I had water while I watched the other dog patrons come and go.

See what I mean? No beer plants.

In late October, one chilly day, when T wanted to visit a NE Calgary store to get me some new food (I do love her), the peeps decided to turn it into a hike ‘n’ brew of a different sort. Up until then, brew had meant beer, but that was on the warm days. This time brew meant a hot beverage, tea for T and coffee for Nollind. And, OH MY GOD, did you know that Timbits come in a box?! A whole box full. I had to share with the peeps, but wowzers, what a discovery.

A box of 10?!

Coffee and tea in hand and Timbits in bellies, we hit the trail at Nose Creek Park, walking the whole 6-km loop. Admittedly, city parks are not quite like mountain trails for making discoveries, but for a dog who follows his nose, there is plenty to experience everywhere.

Discovering the scents of Brown-Lowery.

This past Wednesday, T decided it was time to squeeze in another hike ‘n’ brew before the conditions turned more wintry so we set out for Bragg Creek west of Calgary. Did I say before the conditions turned wintry? Right. Thought so. Well, nobody told Bragg Creek.

We started off at Bragg Creek Provincial Park, a new spot for us, but there was too much snow in this dense forested area. Next stop was West Bragg Creek where the trails are pretty familiar from skiing and horseback trips. The peeps were pretty sure there’d be bare ground on some of the more open trails of that area.

Me showing off my hunter jumper form.

Despite a week of very warm weather (including a record-breaking day on Monday) and quite a lot of sunshine, the main trail heading west out of the parking area was completely snow and ice covered, as were the trails crossing the creek to the south. So, north we walked, up the south-facing hill that was largely devoid of treacherous conditions.

The trees are so much taller than the ones we have at home.

There were a few stretches of mushy snow and some ice, but nothing a group of prairie dwellers couldn’t handle. We got back to the parking lot with the sun just fifteen minutes above the hills, or so Nollind measured with a finger above the horizon. Do you think that method could work for a dog paw?

Trail dog.

Although there are a couple of beer options in the Hamlet of Bragg Creek, it was brewed tea and coffee again, and the patio was closed so I had to wait in the car. :o( But T did bring me part of her salted caramel cookie. Yum.

I have to say, I’m rather a fan of this hike ‘n’ brew thing we’ve got going. I wonder where we’ll go next time?

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.