During the summer weekends, I feel like I need to plan my time so that I can enjoy as many activities as possible. The season flies by quickly, and many activities are impossible once the season ends. This weekend, I was very happy to return to the Fort Assiniboine Sandhills Wildland where I visited 9 years earlier. It’s a very interesting area, since the soil there is so sandy, and the trees and wildlife are much different than they are in the Edmonton area. A group of us met in Barrhead, Northwest of Edmonton, and then we went another 20 minutes farther north to Fort Assiniboine. This area is close to the Grizzly Trail Highway, so a couple of us brought canisters of bear spray, just in case we met a big bear. Luckily, we didn’t need to use our spray, but one group we met said they saw a bear on the trail (maybe this is true, or maybe they lied!). Very few people walk in the area (we didn’t see anyone else on foot), but it’s a very popular equestrian area, with many horseback riders and wagons. The Klondike Trail in this area, is the actual trail that people took north to the Yukon, during the Gold Rush. It was sunny and warm for most of the day, but it did rain a few times, and there was even a little bit of hail. Because the trail was so sandy, it was comfortable to walk, but also a little bit difficult. A deer stood quietly watching us as we hiked past, and a cute snowshoe hare hopped down the trail. There were many flowers in bloom and we saw a lot of big, yellow swallowtail butterflies. We hiked for about 5 hours, and walked over 21 kilometres. There are many more trails, and I really recommend the park for anyone who wants to see a new area.
On Sunday, I took a class in canoe rescue, through Ceyana Canoe Club. We started at Lake Wabamun Provincial Park, west of Edmonton, and we practiced trying to catch empty canoes and return them to land. Later, we practiced towing canoes that were full of water, and we practiced emptying the water out of the canoes. It was a lot of learning. After lunch, we drove to Pembina River Provincial Park, where we practiced everything again, this time in moving water. Luckily, the day was warm and sunny. At the end of the afternoon, we practiced rescuing our own canoe, by flipping the canoes over in the water and then swimming to shore. Nothing was too difficult, but it was good to practice everything again and again. If there’s an emergency, it’s not good to have to spend too much time thinking about what to do. It’s good to be able to respond automatically.
There are so many chances to do new things and to learn new things on the summer weekends. Please don’t just stay at home watching movies or sleeping!