Richard and I spent the past couple of days doing three of the things that we most enjoy at this time of year… camping, hiking and geocaching.
Big Knife Provincial Park, located in central east Alberta where Big Knife Creek flows into the Battle River, is less than an hour from home for us. Like many locations on the Canadian prairie, it takes it’s name from our native history. Two hundred years ago, the Blackfoot and Cree who inhabited the area were bitter enemies. According to legend, Big Man, a Cree, and Knife, a Blackfoot, fought near the banks of the creek, which at this time of year is little more than a muddy breeding ground for mosquitoes. Apparently both warriors died in the battle.
Though the campground and day use areas are probably somewhat busier on weekends and during the height of the summer, the park was almost empty while we were there providing us the peace and solitude we were looking for. We spent several hours on Wednesday tramping the River Flats trail system and yesterday we hiked the Highland trails. Though my stamina isn’t quite what I’m used to it being and we stopped to rest more often than we might have in the past, I was impressed that I could quite easily hike for several hours a day without completely wearing out.
The trails were far from challenging, mostly level and grass covered. With the sun shining overhead, tiny wildflowers strewn along our path, butterflies flitting around our ankles, birds singing in the nearby trees, and the sweet musky scent of the silver willow bushes wafting on the breeze, walking was a delight. We did do a bit of “real” hiking though, first leaving the River Flats trails to get a close-up view of the nearby hoodoos, then deciding to climb a steep hill and follow a narrow animal track along the top of a bluff that would have scared me out of my wits a few years ago before I overcame my fear of heights.
Only one of the eleven geocaches hidden throughout the park eluded us. It was suppose to be at the end of that narrow animal track, though the cacher who placed it recommended coming at it from the other direction. We searched a wide area around the given coordinates but came up empty handed. The view was spectacular though and the trek well worth it.
Not all of the caches were out on the trails. Shortly before dusk, we spotted a beaver in the water’s edge munching on a stick while we were searching for the one that’s hidden not too far from the boat launch. I couldn’t get close enough to get a good photo, but we stood and watched him until he quietly slid into the water and swam away.
I love the solitude of nature; no TV, no telephone, and no internet, but I also love the conveniences of modern day camping. On Wednesday night, a storm blew in bringing much needed rain to the surrounding countryside but we were snug and warm in our trailer bed as the thunder crashed and lightning flashed. It had blown over long before morning came and oh, how well I slept!