August long weekend @Whitney Lakes Provincial Park

I first visited the Ross Lake campground at Whitney Lakes in 2014, and I was really impressed with the place.  Campsites are extra-big, and quite private. There are several very nice lakes, where swimming is very nice, and it’s close to several hiking trails, including the Iron Horse Trail, and the historic Carlton Trail.  I recommended the trip to my cane club(s) and outdoor club last year and this year, but people seem to have different ideas about how to spend a long weekend.  Luckily, there was one member of my outdoors club who wanted to go camping someplace new.  Depending on how you go, and whether you stop, it takes about 2 1/2-3 hours to drive to Whitney Lakes from Edmonton, on quiet highways. We stopped in both directions at Mundare & Two Hills, and we also paused in Elk Point and Myrnam on our return trip.

I was hoping to paddle for one day on the North Saskatchewan River, but we didn’t have another vehicle to provide shuttle service. Nevertheless, paddling was very pleasant on Ross Lake, as well as Whitney Lake.  I really enjoyed the calls of the loons on Whitney Lakes.  Swimming was also quite lovely on both lakes. On Sunday afternoon, the weather was warm and sunny for 2-3 hours, long enough to nap on the beach, and to enjoy going back and forth between warming up on the beach and cooling off in the lake.  The area is very popular with families.  There were motorboats on the lakes, but they weren’t terribly noisy and busy.

We tried hiking around Whitney Lake, but a portion of the trail was underwater, in both directions. The Iron Horse Trail out of Lindbergh was a nice spot to enjoy all of the birds, berries, and butterflies that were plentiful.

The days were pretty cloudy, with rain threatening much of the time. It rained extremely heavily on Saturday and Sunday nights.  Our neighbours helped us out by setting up tarps over our tents, including one of their own.  They set them up while we were off canoeing, and they drove away from the campground very early Monday, leaving us their tarp and ropes!  Evening campfires were great, and we ate very well.

On the way back to Edmonton, we enjoyed the traditional Ukrainian church in Myrnam.  In Two Hills, we were curious to visit the “Mexican Family Store”. When we went inside, we saw that about half the store sold fabrics and Bibles for Mennonite families in the area, and the other half had a wide range of Mexican food and cleaning products.  It seems that the town is being settled by Mexican Mennonites, who also speak German, and there is a large Mennonite school in the town.  I picked up vanilla, panela (solid cane sugar), and a number of other spices and Mexican foods.  We also noticed that the main restaurant in town advertised Mexican, Ukrainian, and Western cuisine. That was a pretty big surprise, in rural Alberta!  In Mundare, we visited Stawnichy’s Ukrainian (Mundare) Sausage, a famous, long-standing business (0ver 50 years). It was a great place to pick up assorted meats, and some delicious Ukrainian food, including fruit perogies and cabbage rolls.

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