Saturday, March 20, 2010

A brief getaway to the island, Elk Island, that is

For several weeks (nay months?) I've been feeling the need to get out of Edmonton. It's not a need to go far, or see exotic things, just a need to get away from my everyday environment. Unfortunately, living in Edmonton is nothing like living in Southwestern Ontario. If I were in Ontario, I could get to a handful of mid-to-large sized cities where I know someone within about 1.5 hours of driving. In Edmonton...well there's pretty much just Edmonton. I suppose I could go to Red Deer (1.5 hours south) but what would I do there? I have no idea. It takes at least 3 hours to get to Calgary, 3 to get to Jasper and more to get to Banff or Lake Louise. In my mind, these are not really day trips. Albertans seem to do it, and I have once done so myself (drive down to Calgary and back), but as far as I'm concerned it's a lot of driving in one day and not worth it. To make matters worse, Andrew's studying for his PhD candidacy right now. This basically means he has no free time until after it's over. That leaves me without a travelling partner, or at least one that I can immediately talk over my plans with and head off.

Yesterday morning I was wondering what I was going to do with myself; homework and other school commitments are winding down and I'm not feeling pressured to spend all day chained to my computer. After ten minutes or so of humming and hawing I decided that it was time for me to go take a hike (quite literally). I pulled myself together as quickly as I could (layering up, finding mittens and scarves, backpacks, and grabbing our small point and shoot camera) and headed down Highway 16, east of Edmonton to Elk Island. After a slight misdirect while trying to figure out how to reach the entrance of the Wood Bison Trail, I parked at around 10:10 a.m. and headed off. I chose this trail as it is one of the longest (16 km) and the only one that Andrew and I hadn't done yet. Thankfully there was only a light layer of snow on the ground and the sun was out in full force.

Elk. This fellow was very patient with me. I noticed him after I walked passed him, he waited for me to retrace my steps and snap a few photos. I saw a few other elk as I tromped through the woods, but none of the stayed long enough for me to get out my camera.
A single bison. I've seen bison before while at Elk Island, and been much closer to these large animals, but today they didn't seem to want to stay put long enough for me to snap a decent picture.
The trail. I was the first human out since it had last snowed. I saw plenty of animal tracks on the path, but no other shoe prints.
What I assumed is a moose antler (although having never seen a live moose I could be wrong--I don't know how big they should be). No hint of moose though.
Me, just to prove I had actually been there.
Over all I enjoyed the day, although toward the end of the hike I had become quite tired and was focused mostly on reaching the end of the trail. To make matters more frustrating, there were no distance markers after I reached the 3 km sign (I walked the trail backwards and had had signs posting the distance from 16 km down to 3 km) and had no firm idea of how much distance I had left to get back to the car. I would definitely enjoy going out again, although perhaps not the day before our long run as was the case this time. My legs are very much in protest after having carried me over 30 km in the last two days.




Lisa said...

I am pretty sure that picture is of a moose, not an elk. Yes, it's most definitely a moose. Be careful next time, moose are actually kinda dangerous. If they charge, you're screwed.

Definitely a moose...

S. Andrea Milne said...

I didn't think they were big enough to be moose, and they didn't have antlers.