Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A little outdoor relief

I spent most of the May long weekend indoors staring at a computer screen (I know, I rock). The weather was nice on Saturday, but rather gray and windy on Sunday, although supposedly still warm (I didn't go outside so I have no way to prove or disprove this theory). When I woke up on Monday I wanted to cry. Snow flakes were drifting lazily in the air. I got out of bed and sat down at the computer planning to put in the time I would be missing at work for the holiday. I put in about a half an hour and decided: "That's it! Its the long weekend and I haven't taken any time off." I slumped over to the couch and sat down beside Andrew, who was having breakfast.

The conversation went something like this:

Andrew: "The weather is hikeable."
Andrea: "I suppose. We'd have to bundle up."
Andrew: "You need to take the day off, your work doesn't expect you to put in time on a holiday."
Andrea: "Well, let's go now, in case the weather gets worse in the afternoon."
Andrew: "I need to finish my breakfast first."

By 10:00 a.m. we were underway. We'd bundled appropriately, packed our backpacks with rations, visited Safeway for a few extras and were driving toward the Yellowhead. We reached Elk Island around 10:45, purchased a group National Park Pass (good for 2-7 visitors from May 2009 to May 2010) and were parked by the trailhead just before 11:00. It turned out to be a great idea. The temperature was cool (we had sniffling noses the whole day) but the sun came out around noon and we were eventually able to peel off our top layers. And we had several up close encounters with bison.

The bison roam freely on Elk Island. As you drive through the park you frequently find them grazing by the road and inevitably someone has stopped their car to take pictures. But we came upon a herd of bison (including cute baby bison) during our hike. It was cool, but yet problematic. Every time they moved, they ran a little farther along the hiking trial. So we would walk for a bit, then we would have to slow down as we came within thirty metres of the bison, watching to see what they would do. A couple of bison would stare at us and after a minute or so they'd trot off farther along the trail and the process would repeat itself. Eventually they headed down a path that departed from the main hiking trail, but we continued to encounter the occasional lone bison as we walked.

We walked about 13.5 km in total. The first trail, the Hayburger Trail (this is where we saw the bison), was 10 km long. Then we took a shorter trail, Beaver Pond Trial, which was 3.5 km long to prolong our time in the outdoors. All in all, it was a great way to finish off an otherwise lack-luster long weekend.




Lisa said...

Wow, that sounds like so much fun! Did you guys use a map, or just wing it?

Got any pictures of the baby buffalo?

S. Andrea Milne said...

The trials on Elk Island are fairly well laid out, so you don't really need a map. Alas we forgot to bring our camera on Monday, which is of course why we got to close to the animals :)

Michelle said...

Gooooo animal chasing.
Sounds awsome

S. Andrea Milne said...

It was awesome seeing the bison so close, but a little worrisome. We didn't want to get trampled.