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 …
And, this morning, I’m feeling inclined to do this …
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.
It’s the 22nd of January which means that many winters since 2011 you’d have found us somewhere south of the Canada/US border by now, enjoying the sun and warmth of Arizona or California. We’ve departed Canada in November, in December, and in January, but never this late. Pretty sure that means we’re not going.
It’s the border closure, of course, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, that’s keeping us home this year. I’m mostly okay with the situation. I love home—my favourite beds, trips to the barn, exploring our prairie landscape, and I’m normally included in all outings to town or to the city.
A few years ago, I wrote a post about loving snow, and I do. What I’m loving less as I get older is the cold. Logan used to talk about getting cold more easily as he aged and I thought I’d be different, but recent events have changed my mind.
If I’m moving, I am comfortable in almost any weather, even my paws don’t get cold. I stepped into a mountain stream to get a drink on Monday and continued along the trail as before, toes quite comfortable.
But, when I stop moving, the chill creeps in quickly, I feel the cold seeping through my camp mat, and the frost crawling into my bones. That’s when I start to shiver, just a little at first, and then it takes over and is like someone hit my vibrate button and turned it to the highest setting.
On Monday, we went on our second “day camping” outing of this stay-at-home winter. I think these day trips are designed to keep us all from getting cabin fever and missing our desert time too much, but I’m not sure it’s working for me. I love the hiking part—there’s nothing quite like a new trail and Ribbon Creek was fantastic—but the picnic in the snow and cold, other than the food, not a huge fan.
Evenings can get chilly in the desert at this time of year, and I sometimes need some blanket support, but out in Kananaskis on Monday, I had a woolly coat, was wrapped in a blanket, sitting next to a roaring fire, and still shaking like a leaf. Built for comfort not for cold.
T’s planning to bring a thicker bed for me on the next day camping adventure, to put more between me and the snow. I’m happy to hear it and hoping it will help, and yet I hate being such a wuss when it comes to cold. I like to think it’s the winters south, not age, that have softened me, but since this is our third winter in a row at home, I’m not sure this theory continues to hold water.
Despite the increasing chill as the sun dropped below the mountains, I did eventually fall asleep, once I’d had a beef chew, two turkey weiners, a few potato chips, and my dinner.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?