Many Springs hike.

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Rain threatened, but it was warmer during this hike than it looks in these photos!  Many Springs is a really short (1.3 km) and easy walk within the boundaries of Bow Valley Provincial Park, a wonderful place for spotting wildflowers and just enjoying the fantastic scenery.  It’s a great educational site (and would be ideal for anyone with young children), as there are interpretive signs throughout the loop that give some idea of the flora and fauna of the area and the “mystery” of the springs.  Hiking mid-week, in poor weather, meant we had the place to ourselves…ah, bliss!

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Have you done any wildflower hunting lately, or walked in a new (or favourite) spot?

Alberta Snapshot: Middle Lake, summertime.

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This is one of my favourite places to photograph:  Middle Lake, in Bow Valley Provincial Park.   I always love how moody this little pond appears, depending on the cloud cover – you can see another shot of it here, snapped when my hubby and I stopped there after an ice walk in February.   These particular photos were taken earlier this month, during a fun, but rather wet camping trip in the Park.  We tent, so rainy conditions are always a bit of a challenge.  It’s really the clean up afterwards that doesn’t hold any appeal for me – we don’t have a balcony or deck attached to our suite, so I usually end up drying the tent in the shower, which means for the next few days, I’m scrubbing tag along spiders and beetles and other assorted creatures off of the walls and ceiling.  Okay, that’s a lie – it’s more like I stand as far away as possible (another room, preferably) and point nebulously and scream hysterically while my husband cleans up the wayward travellers.   😉

Apparently the rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of a truckload of teenagers, who stopped to take a swim in the cold water as we were leaving the parking lot.  The lake is a bit sludgy and wouldn’t be my first choice as a swimming hole, but the nearby Bow River was running too fast for a safe dip.  According to interpretive signs, Middle Lake is shrinking every year and will eventually dry up to become part of the meadow surrounding it.

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My brother spotted this impressive old specimen of a balsam fir just off the beaten path.  Wonder just how long it’s been since it was a seed?

Jura Creek Walk.

With my work schedule, free weekends are in short supply around here – it’s fortunate the mountains are a short drive west and the daylight hours have increased, so we can get out for some exploring during the week.  A couple of Tuesdays ago (before spring came along and all the nasty weather with it), my hubby and I headed out to Jura Creek, just outside of the town of Exshaw.  It’s about an hour’s drive west of Calgary on scenic highway 1 A – or you could do as we did and take the faster route via Highway 1, turning off at Bow Valley Provincial Park.

The day we went there was a strong Chinook wind and it was so warm you could smell the fragrance of the junipers and the spruce trees and the earthy odour of the thawing ground.  The path leading up to the creek bed was a muddy mess (memo to self:  buy some rain boots already, you need them for gardening anyway).   Once we got to the creek, the first few metres in front of the canyon were dry and bare.  We tried to determine whether or not the area had gotten damaged in the floods of last June and it’s a safe bet it was:  the sides and bottom of the gravel bar had obviously been pushed around by heavy machinery, but there was no sign of broken trees or other debris littering the banks.

For anyone looking for a good workout, Jura Creek doesn’t offer any sort of challenge; the creek bed is pretty much level and it was an easy walk through the canyon.  The scenery is marvellous, though!

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View of the dry creek bed, looking back from the canyon mouth.  The trailhead lies south, about a kilometre away (to the left of the scene in the photo).

IMG_8638Plenty of snow cover here.  You can see how narrow the walls of the canyon are in spots. 

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The creek on the other side of the canyon.  We found open water in some areas.

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Lots of moss.

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Trees budding in the snow.

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I did use ice cleats on my boots, but there was actually a fair amount of snow cover and they were only really necessary in a few spots, mostly when we exited the canyon and headed further along the creek.

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Wonder what is in that cave?  On second thought….

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Back through the canyon.

IMG_8662That’s a serious slab of rock just balancing there. 

I read somewhere that you can hike above the canyon, but I don’t know where that trailhead begins.  It would be interesting to see it from above.

No outdoor adventures planned for this week – the weather is not co-operating whatsoever!  Tomorrow night our community garden group and the local horticultural society are presenting an information session about raised bed gardening, and I’ll venture out for that – it should be interesting.  What are you up to this week?