I’ve always wanted to go camping in the fall; always hoped for just one more outing with the trailer before winter hit. As teachers, it never happened. We were back in the classroom and up to our eyeballs in work by late August or the first week of September. Then, with retirement came several years of helping our friend, Louis, with harvest. I loved being out on the combine, but it meant that there was no time for camping in the fall.
Finally, this year it happened! We packed up the trailer last Wednesday morning and headed for Miquelon Lake Provincial Park, less than an hour and a half from home. Surrounded by the spectacular colours of the season, fall camping was everything I always thought it would be! Though we got caught in the rain while out geocaching on Wednesday afternoon, the clouds soon disappeared and for the remainder of our time the weather was glorious.
Here in Alberta, we don’t get the wide variety of fall colours that are found in eastern Canada, but everywhere I turned I was surrounded by beauty and I took dozens of pictures!
We found 14 geocaches within the park boundaries, but the highlight of our trip was definitely Friday’s hike. We left the trailhead late in the morning intending to hike 7.3 kilometres, but we’d completed all but 1.5 km of that by the time we stopped to eat lunch! Digging out our trail map, we quickly decided to add what we had originally thought might be a separate hike sometime in the future. In the end, we covered 13.2 km! Considering the fact that just a few months ago, I couldn’t walk more than two km without playing out, I was pretty stoked!
Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for very long know how much we enjoy exploring old abandoned houses that give us glimpses into life in days gone by. Imagine our surprise and delight when Richard spotted an old brick chimney rising out of the bush a short distance from the trail. Of course, we had to take a closer look! Although the girl manning the park office couldn’t give us any information about the house or its original inhabitants, it was easy to see that the two storey structure and its smaller outbuilding must have been there long before the park was established in 1958.
Though we didn’t see any of the larger wildlife, including deer, moose and elk, that live within the park, there was clear evidence of their presence along the trails. Plenty of fresh hoof prints and droppings told us they weren’t far off. What we did see were squirrels, muskrat, tiny frogs, a surprising number of garter snakes and an abundance of water fowl. As Miquelon Lake and the numerous wetland areas within the park are located within two of North America’s migratory flyways, flocks of migrating geese honked their way overhead and settled on the lake each evening.
Miquelon Lake is also part of the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve, an an area that has been established to reduce the glare of artificial light and increase the visibility of the night sky. Each evening, as we sat around the fire in the crisp evening air, darkness settled around us and stars filled the sky. What could be more relaxing?
Dare I hope for one more camping trip before winter arrives?