Camping close to home: Miquelon Lake

Because of the heavy rains, I put up a tarp to cover my tent and protect it from the rain.

Because of the heavy rains, I put up a tarp to cover my tent and protect it from the rain.

I didn’t have a lot of plans for camping or travel in July, so I was really excited when I read a request for volunteers at Miquelon Lake Provincial Park.  I haven’t visited the park since the 1900s, so it was time to go back!  The parks staff wanted some people who are comfortable with canoes, since they were hosting a group of new Canadians and helping them to learn about camping.  On Friday, the rain and wind in Edmonton was ridiculous, so I decided not to go out to the park that day.  Instead, I waited until Saturday morning, when I met the friendly parks staff at Miquelon.  I learned that the group of campers was from “Brander Gardens Rocks”, an after-school activity group in the Terwillegar area.

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The park had plenty of 6-man tents and sleeping pads for the new campers, as well as cooking and safety supplies.  The group camping area had a really nice cooking shelter with a woodstove, so we were able to warm up a little bit before “building” the tents.  They were pretty easy to put together, if you’ve had a little bit of camping experience, but very confusing when you see them for the first time!  We helped with the construction process, and then everyone began putting their belongings in the tents, and getting ready for lunch.  I went to set up my tent, since it looked like it would rain again.  It was cool, and pretty windy that day, so the parks staff suggested waiting until the next day to try out paddling.  I met the other volunteers, and we all decided to go hiking after setting up our tents and eating lunch.  The trails are almost 9 kilometres in length, going around the outside.  There were so many fresh berries on the bushes, especially raspberries, but also Saskatoons, strawberries, and gooseberries.  The trails are kind of narrow, and the grass is a little long, so it isn’t as easy to walk there as it is in some other provincial parks.

After the walk, I drove into Camrose, which is south of the park.  I stopped at a Hutterite colony http://www.hutterites.org/ where they sold lots of fresh vegetables, as well as baked goods and jam.  I bought a fresh, Saskatoon-berry pie that was still hot, and it tasted fantastic for dessert!

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After supper, the parks staff performed a play, which explained about how important it is to keep many species of plants in the park.  It was pretty funny and entertaining, since the staff sang and danced, and they were dressed up as various kinds of flowers.  The young people from Brander Gardens were performing some African drumming at their campsite, but I was tired after a long day, and it was nice to sit and watch my campfire burn.

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On Sunday, we got up and met the campers to try out canoeing.  Now, the weather was perfect, hot and sunny!  We launched several canoes, and paddled back and forth from the beach, taking everyone who wanted out for a canoe ride.  People really enjoyed the chance to go out on the water, and it was the first time for most people.  I didn’t have to leave my campsite until 2 pm, so I took my time eating lunch and taking down my campsite.  It was a very relaxing weekend, in a really pretty area.

Trying canoeing for the first time

Trying canoeing for the first time

Birds on the beach

Birds on the beach

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