Monday, June 21, 2010

Where Two Meet Up

It's not a place I get out to very often (actually the last time was 7 or 8 years ago now that I think of it) but I had the opportunity a few days ago so I ran with it. Here are a few shots at the confluence of the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers, a very important connecting point along the old trade routes of the 18th century.

It's not quite as idyllic as I remember it back in 2002 (the noise from the expansion of a nearby golf course and the construction of a road see to that) but I did catch a glimpse of a fox along the trail at point and the place still has a special meaning for me.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Snye

MacDonald Island sits at the north end of the city, its northern tip marking the confluence of the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers. It's known to locals as "Fort McMurray's Island Playground." (You can find the Suncor Community Leisure Centre aka the rec centre here along with a pretty nice golf course.) Initially, I was puzzled how "Mac Island" although called an island, technically isn't an island. It's joined to the rest of the city by a short neck of land. And in between is a small inlet of water called the Snye. (It sounds like the name of a creature from a 3rd-rate 1950's flick.)

I first saw the Snye 7 or 8 years ago when I first ventured through Fort McMurray. It wasn't really a river (though I've seen it noted as such in a few articles I've read). It just seemed to be some weird appendage of the Clearwater. It's a popular spot for all manner of outdoor pursuits from canoeing and kayaking in the summer to snowmobiling and pond hockey in the winter. Even float planes take off and land on it. (It's also a pretty good place to view some water fowl).

Turns out the Snye, isn't a natural creation. It was formed back in the mid-60's when a dike was built connecting it to the rest of town. Man-made or not, I have a certain fondness for the place and it contributes nicely to both the natural surroundings and recreational needs of our fair town.

The picture above is a view to the east with MacDonald Island to the left and mainland on the right.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Long Summer Evening Stroll

One of the things I've missed is the sounds and smells of the boreal forest, particularly during the late Spring/early Summer. I've taken the kids a few times to explore the Birchwood trails but this was our first outing there as a family. The kids and I saw a stretch of trail we hadn't seen before.....and I didn't get lost this time because I had Lisa!

Our first Blue Jay. It might be a little hard to spot but there is a Blue Jay sitting on a branch in the bush here. Lisa spotted it with her sharp eye and pointed it out to us. At first I wasn't quite sure what it was. I saw what looked to be some sort of all-white bird. When it took flight though, it's brilliant blue colour confirmed our first Blue Jay sighting here. It was a huge jay and looked absolutely gorgeous against the green backdrop.

Nothing like rolling down a hill through the grass. Feeling dizzy!

We are lucky to have lots of open green areas surrounding our area of town.

Part of Conn Creek which cuts a nice valley through the trail system.

Looking back down the last big hill we had to climb to get out of the valley at the end of the trail.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Crossing The Athabasca

The Athabasca is truly one of Canada's great rivers, steeped in history. There are some great views of the river as you descent from some of the subdivisions but unless you are exceedingly brave and want to flirt with traffic, the safest (and only) places I've been to take pictures so far have been from the window of a moving vehicle. Soon enough, I expect the view we have of the river as we come down from Thickwood to be gone as a large overpass is being built at the bottom of the hill. There are a few nice spots along the river we're hopeful to get to to show the kids and get some better pictures.

This shot here is looking north up the valley as you head west. The land on the left shore is actually part of a large island in the middle of the river. In the foreground is the new 5-lane bridge being built which will open next year.