I did a lot of hiking this weekend.
Yesterday, I drove out with Catalina to the River’s Edge ultra. I had a friend running it so I wanted to go out and cheer him on. And it was a new ultra so it would be nice to see. I would have liked to run it, but a test run last week left my quads unhappy with me, so I figured I wasn’t ready for an 80km run yet.
When we got there, it was raining. The drive had had pleasant weather, but that didn’t last. Fortunately, the rain didn’t either. After twenty minutes it was over, and I got to see my friend come in at the end of one of his leg’s.
After he went off, we took a pair of walks in the area. It was quite beautiful. Unfortunately, I think I have damaged my iPhone camera, so the pictures I took all have a streak across them.
Today, we drove out to Elk Island to see some bison. This is a prelude to eventually eating part of one. We saw some wood buffalo on the highway before we arrived at the park.
We asked the information guy for some suggestions on what to do there. Usually Bison Loop Road is a good place to sight them. And we were looking for a two hour hike and he gave a suggestion of the Shirley Lake trail.
The Bison Loop road didn’t provide a good sighting, so we continued on the Shirley Lake Trail. That trail looked a little long at 12.5km. So we decided to start with the Simmons trail, which was a subset of the larger trail and only 5km long. We could then decide to extend it if we felt like it.
At about 3pm we started. Unfortunately, I didn’t look at the map closely enough, and we started on the Shirley Lake trail by mistake. Part of the problem was that the park assumes everyone will go a certain way on the trails, and so if you go in the wrong direction, the signs are all behind you. This will be important later.
We only realized we were on the wrong trail after half an hour, when we met some people going the other direction. They also mentioned that there were a lot of bison 12km ahead, on the Tawayik Lake trail. Because Shirley Lake trail and Tawayik overlap, except that one is 16.5km.
So, with that in mind, after an hour, we turned to continue on Tawayik instead of staying with Shirley Lake. We wanted to see bison! And after several hours of hiking, we encountered them. When the trail went between Tawayik Lake and Little Tawayik Lake, the forest changed to plains, and there was a herd of about 50 bison laying about on the trail, acting like they owned the place.
We took pictures and avoided them, although the alpha was a ways from them and seemed a bit upset at our presence. We didn’t have a problem though, and we parted amicably by going off what might laughably be called “the trail” and circling around the herd.
However, we never really found the trail again. It wasn’t clearly marked, and it assumed we were going in the other direction. So the trail we eventually found had actually been made by bison with no sense of a goal, so it ended abruptly. With no easy way to find the trail, we headed back to the lake and stayed close to it and headed in the general direction of the end.
Thankfully it wasn’t wet, but there was grass that was higher than us. It was a slog at times, and annoying with the knowledge that the real trail was probably close by, but we had no way to find it without going dangerously cross-country, and the map was not helpful. At least the iPhone map gave us a direction to head.
We did get back to the parking lot at around 7:30, when the sun was already setting behind the trees. There was a very nice path going into the trees too, clear as day. I wish we had known what we were going to do at the start and headed in that direction to begin with.
On the drive home I noticed that the moon was in the half phase. Which struck me as odd, since it was full last night. Oh yeah! The eclipse.
There was a large group of people on Bison Loop Road. We joined them and took some pictures. But it was cold, we were hungry, and it was late. We drove home, keeping the moon in sight as much as possible, until it was completely gone, replaced by its blood version.
I did a lot of hiking this weekend.