Instead of trekking out to the mountains, my hubby and I took an afternoon roadtrip to the Badlands a couple of weeks ago. We didn’t do much hiking on this go, opting instead to take in the jaw-dropping scenery (it never gets old, no matter how many times you’ve been there), cross a ridiculously terrifying suspension footbridge, picnic with garter snakes on the banks of the river, and linger over drinks and grub at the Last Chance Saloon. An absolutely perfect day!
Horsethief Canyon, Drumheller
It seems so appropriate that there was a turkey vulture and a couple of large crows feasting on a gopher carcass on the highway as we drove towards Horsethief Canyon. It’s not difficult to imagine that, way back when, unsavoury characters hid stolen horses in this place – the canyon seems to stretch on forever.
The 117 metre (384 foot) long Star Mine Suspension Bridge in Rosedale may be an easy crossing for some, but as many of you may recall, I have an insane phobia of heights. The bridge was originally built in 1931 for mine workers to use to commute to work (the mine was located in the hillside that you can see behind the bridge upright). Of course, the bridge had a wooden deck at that time, which is far more anxiety-inducing than the metal construction the Alberta government replaced it with in 1958.
The hamlet of Wayne is in the Guiness Book of World Records because in order to get to it, you have to cross the “most bridges in the shortest distance.” In the 6 kilometres (3.73 miles) between Rosedale and Wayne, you encounter 11 bridges (most of them one lane only). We stopped to eat at the empty municipal campground, and while my hubby was photographing a couple of wandering garter snakes (Thamnophis elegans) we found in a nearby hole, I was busy gawking wildly around and coiling the ol’ reflexes so I could drop my pasta salad and spring up onto the nearest bench as soon as those snakes (or any others) decided to make a slithering bid for my feet.
In the few milliseconds I was not on snake watch, I enjoyed the view of the lazy, muddy Red Deer River.
The Last Chance Saloon in Wayne is a famous landmark, having appeared in several films and commercials. The interior is stuffed to the rafters with fascinating antiques and artefacts of historical significance to the area, as well as souvenirs from visitors from all over the world. The adjacent Rosedeer Hotel, which we didn’t go into, is purportedly haunted – apparently, the third floor has been completely sealed off for decades, with much speculation as to why.