Saturday, July 7, 2012

Evening Hike

Hard to believe it but I hadn't hit the Birchwood trails in a good long while. Early April, if memory serves me correctly. So I was itching to get back but rather than going during the day and enduring the crazy heat I decided instead to wait until cooler evening temperatures took hold. This was actually my first night hike and I was quite looking forward to it.  I planned to take full advantage of the long hours of summer light to see a few sections of trail I hadn't seen in awhile and to see some new sections as well.  The good part was that the air temperature cooled off rather nicely as I descended down into the valley.  The bad part, was that at times the mosquitoes were out in full force.

Other than the odd robin and a mouse-like creature that scurried across the trail in front of me at one point, there wasn't a soul to be seen.    Beaver dams but no beavers.

I crossed criss-crossed Conn Creek several times.  At least a couple of the bridges had been re-built since the last time I was in this particular area.

I remember this bridge had been completely washed out, the creek banks eroded.  Metal supports and a retaining wall along the bank will hopefully give this bridge more staying power than its predecessor.  The sounds of the rushing water was all that broke the still calm of the forest and I was grateful for a chance to splash a little cool water on my mosquito-bitten legs.

As I reached the top of a rather steep section of trail, referred to rather disconcertingly as Divorce Hill, I noticed this amusing sign someone had put up on a tree.

I managed to make my way all the way over to the Timberlea on the other side of the valley.  There were some rather steep sections of trail here but I had energy to burn and was making good time.  The  cut line in the photo below is where Thickwood and Timberlea come close to touching each other on the east side of the trail system. I knew of the existence of this cut line and hoped to be able to cross it to save having to head back up the valley to cross the creek on one of the bridges.  Down the hill I went, not realizing just how long and steep it was...and more importantly, that there was no bridge to cross the creek at the bottom over to the other side.  I did spy a log across the creek but getting to it meant picking my way through some rather dense brush.  The creek isn't particularly deep but I didn't trust the log and didn't relish the thought of going for an evening dunk should I misjudge my footing.   I had no choice now but to head back up the valley to find a better crossing point.

It was a long slog back up the hill...but I did stop to smell the daisies.

It didn't take too long to find a better crossing point.

...because I'd rather look at Conn Creek from above than from being immersed in it.

At one point I saw a Flicker (they seem to be everywhere this weekend) take flight from an embankment along the trail.  I took a quick peak for a nest but it was pretty muddy and I didn't want to disturb whatever critter called this niche its home so I was soon on my way.

Over two hours later with my spirit of adventure sated, at least temporarily, and nursing a few mosquito bites on my legs, I was ready to call it an evening and was treated to a nice little sunset to end the day.


Bonnie said...

Thanks for the mini travel log!

It is a lovely time of year!

Way Way Up said...

Gotta love the long summer days for sure.

Susan Lore, Fort McMurray Real Estate said...

One of my favourite things about living in Fort McMurray is how close we are to the amazing natural world of northern Alberta! I can just walk out the back door and begin hiking some of the most beautiful wilderness. What a great hike, and some awesome photos -- especially that sunset. Wow!