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The Many Springs Trail

The Many Springs Trail

On Wednesday, Rolf and I drove to Bow Valley Provincial Park and hiked the Many Springs Trail. Well, it wasn’t exactly a hike. It’s more of a walk. The Many Springs Trail is flat and well-groomed and quite short. Only 1.6 km. (That’s about a mile.) It’s also famous for its wildflowers.

Here’s the map of the trail, which is a loop.Many Springs Trail

At the junction, there’s a sign pointing you to the right. You follow along and reach the boardwalk. The actual loop is only about 1.3 km.

Most of the Bow Valley is dry, grassy meadows with stands of aspen and evergreen. But the Many Springs Trail is a lush wetland fed by, you guessed it, many springs.

At this time of year, lots of people come looking for the Yellow Lady Slipper Orchid.

Yellow Lady Slipper Orchid along the Many Springs Trail

Yellow Lady Slipper Orchid

The first time you see one, you get all excited and take about a million pictures. And then you realize it is everywhere along the trail.

The Wood Lily is here too.

Wood Lily

Wood Lily

And, of course, there’s the Prickly Rose.

Prickly Rose aka the floral emblem of Alberta

Prickly Rose aka the floral emblem of Alberta

Prickly Rose aka the floral emblem of Alberta

Prickly Rose aka the floral emblem of Alberta

Where the trail opens up, there are some peaceful views of the mountains.

Creeping Juniper with berries

Creeping Juniper with berries

Limber Honeysuckle

Limber Honeysuckle

boardwalk at the Many Springs Trail

boardwalk

Meadow Zizia

Meadow Zizia

Red-osier Dogwood

Red-osier Dogwood

Mount Yamnuska view from the Many Springs Trail

Mount Yamnuska

Purple Clematis

Purple Clematis

And everywhere there is Silverberry. 

Silverberry

Silverberry

It was a morning walk with lots of time for pictures. We drove on the 1A instead of the busier TransCanada, which meant that we went through Cochrane. So, on the way back, we stopped in Cochrane at McKay’s Ice Cream.

Always a good way to end a trip!

Pfizer and spring and skiing

Pfizer and spring and skiing

About three weeks ago, I got my first Pfizer vaccine. It was almost anticlimactic. The drugstore had phoned us to set up our appointments. No waiting on the phone, no online forms. We just showed up—and no crowds. Hopefully, the booster shot will be as easy.

After a long locked-down winter, spring has finally hit the prairies. As is usual for Calgary, the daytime temperature fluctuates. We are anywhere from 0 Celsius to 17. Except for the in-town ski hill, Canada Olympic Park (COP), the snow in the city has melted.

But in the mountains, we are at that wonderful time of year when the skiing is perfect. It’s winter snow, but with springtime air temperatures. We were at Sunshine Village yesterday with the best conditions ever.

This is what the sky looked like. Not a cloud in sight.

blue skies!

Of course, still COVID, so must mask. I wore my black one today. At this point, I have several colours to choose from. Even when I get my booster shot, it will be masking as usual.

masking as usual

This sign was by the Standish lift. (Standish lift because it goes up Mt. Standish.)

gondola wear a mask

The Wawash reference is to the Wawa Bowl.

And this is the pause that refreshes.

taking a break

It was above freezing so you get warm quickly, and thirsty. Besides the water, I also had some Earl Grey tea . . . and a great view of the mountain from the Chimney Corner Lounge.

We picked the right day, going yesterday. Today, it’s socked in at the hill. But, in the city, it’s already up to 14 degrees and the sun is shining.

The robins have returned and when I saw some early this morning, they looked bigger than usual. But, they’re not. When it’s cold, they puff up their feathers to stay warm. (It’s called rousing.)

Although we could still get another snowstorm, things are looking good. The trees are budding and the tulips are poking up.

Wherever you are, I hope you are enjoying the signs of spring.

Pfizer from Depositphotos_426520962

It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day!

It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day!

I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather for the last week or so. No fever, so not COVID, but some kind of bug that has made me tired and achy. At any rate, I’ve been cooped up indoors. This morning, I finally felt good enough to go for a long walk. After days of extreme cold in Calgary, we are now above freezing, and the sun is shining. I decided to go for a walk along the river.

Here’s the view of the mostly frozen Bow River from a lookout on the pathway through Bowmont Park.

Bow River

And now I am down by the river.

Bow River in winter

Bow River in winter

In the Dale Hodges Park, I like to visit my friends, the ducks.

my friends, the ducks

I’ve always wondered why there are a few ducks that don’t fly south for the winter. I guess they find enough to eat on these little open patches of water.

Here I am on the snow-covered boardwalk.

Dale Hodges Park

This is the Dale Hodges Park. It’s a natural environment park along the north bank of the Bow River. Surprisingly, the area used to be a gravel pit. And now it’s been reclaimed.

Dale Hodges Park

The project was a joint effort between Parks, Water Resources and Public Art. Stormwater from several upstream residential communities flows slowly through the water structures and is filtered before entering the Bow River.

Dale Hodges Park

The park is connected to Bowmont Park and is a wildlife habitat. It has a system of boardwalks, cycling and walking trails, marsh and meadows, and views of the Bow River.

Dale Hodges Park

But now it’s mostly covered with snow.

Later in the day, even on a cold winter day, there will be a lot of people down here. But, early in the morning, there’s just me, and the ducks.

The silence is amazing and uplifting. After an hour and a half of walking, I am feeling much better and ready to get back to the world.

Skiing at Sunshine Village with COVID-19 restrictions

Skiing at Sunshine Village with COVID-19 restrictions

Last Wednesday we went skiing at Sunshine Village for the first time this season. And, for me, for the first time in three years. Almost one year ago, I got my new hip.

My New HipFor a whole year before my surgery, I could hardly walk, let alone ski.

My surgeon told me it was okay to ski since I already know how. (Probably not a good idea to take up skiing after a hip replacement, but who knows?)

So, new hip. And also, COVID-19 restrictions.

You have to wear a mask in the lineups. Although, on a Wednesday in January, there aren’t a lot of people there. Still, there are times you might be within six feet of someone else. So, masks. The gondolas can carry six people, but you only ride up with your own group, which was just me and Rolf.

Sunshine Village with COVID-19 restrictions: This is what Sunshine has to say:

Face coverings or face masks are mandatory to ride, or wait for, any of the lifts. The face covering can be a non-medical mask, a face warmer or a buff, and resort staff will be monitoring visitors for compliance.

Sunshine Village with COVID-19 restrictions

Wearing a mask was not a big hardship. I mean, consider all the other stuff we have to wear – helmets, goggles, layers and layers of clothing. Rolf only wore his mask in the lineups. I found it easier to just keep it on. And bonus, it blocked the wind from hitting my nose.

Standish Mountain, Sunshine Village

view from the top of Standish

We had good temperatures, about minus 8 throughout the day. This is a “Canadian nice” for January. It was a bit windy on the lifts but that’s usual. The snow was good with good coverage.

And the sun was shining. In the morning, there was only one tiny little cloud in the sky. By late afternoon, more clouds showed up.

Sunshine Village

lots of sunshine at Sunshine Village

Rolf stayed with me on my first run to make sure I was okay. Of course, I remembered how to ski. It’s like remembering how to ride a bicycle. But it felt different on my operative side. I guess some of those muscles are still weak. I don’t notice the weakness with walking, but making turns, I do notice it. Plus, it just felt weird. A strange sensation. By the end of the day, that strangeness went away and I was just tired, as you usually are after a good day of skiing.

On the website – skibanff.com – we learned that there were designated shelters set up for skiers and boarders to warm up in and to eat lunch while remaining seated. There are hosts on duty to manage capacity and to disinfect tables.

There’s no table service anywhere on the hill, but lots of Grab and Go food and beverages that you can purchase and take into one of the shelters. The usual eateries, like Trappers and the Day Lodge, have food for sale. There is also a Tenn Roof Co. Taco Truck.

Chimney Corner Lounge

We had heard that the Chimney Corner Lounge was only open to hotel guests, and we were disappointed because we always eat there. But, turns out, the Chimney Corner was open on Wednesday—with hardly anyone in there.

empty Chimney Corner Lounge

empty Chimney Corner Lounge

The greeter is behind plexiglass. You give your name and phone number in case they need it for COVID-19 tracing. Through a slot in the plexiglass, she passes you a tall bottle of water and glasses and napkin-wrapped cutlery.

water bottle

Then you pick a table. Probably two-thirds of the tables have been removed. A QR code is laminated onto the table. You use your phone to check out the menu.

Then go back to the front, order, and they give you a pager. When your food is ready, you go to a pickup window.

pick up food here

So, it’s all done without wait staff.

We both got the Beef Burger—Alberta Chuck, Bourbon BBQ Sauce, Smoked Cheddar, Crisp Lettuce, Tomato and Garlic Aioli. And we each got a cup of the spicy Tomato Bisque plus a big order of fries. I love ski food.

Beef Burger and Tomato Bisque

In the morning, I was on Angel and Standish. After lunch, I skied another hour and a half with more time on Standish, then another run on Angel and then I went to the easy hill—Strawberry. Meanwhile, Rolf went up the Divide and did moguls.

Sunshine Village

By late afternoon, more clouds showed up.

At this time of year, the sun falls behind the mountains early, so the light is better up high. Right now, the lifts only run until four o’clock. Later in the season, they will go till four-thirty.

I was done by three o’clock. Rolf skied almost another hour more, almost until the lifts turned off.

Java Lift Coffee Bar

In the meantime, I went to the Java Lift Coffee Bar for my usual half-sweet vanilla latte – and a butter tart. Yum! Then I sat outside and enjoyed the fresh air, and the sunshine, and the peace.

I hope you are coping with the restrictions of COVID-19 and I hope you are getting lots of Outdoor Time!

Chimney Corner Lounge

winter decoration in the Chimney Corner Lounge

QR image on phone from Depositphotos #14697937
All other images from Suzanne’s trusty phone

The Asparagus Festival

The Asparagus Festival

Last Sunday (June 9, 2019), the Annual Asparagus Festival was held at Edgar Farms near Innisfail, Alberta.

Who knew such an event existed?

The Asparagus Festival

 
Edgar Farms is a sixth generation family farm established in 1907. From a diversification experiment in 1986, the farm now cultivates 50 acres of asparagus. As well as asparagus, the farm grows green and yellow beans, rhubarb and peas. They also raise grass-fed Angus beef which is hormone and antibiotic free.
 
asparagus field
 
The asparagus has a short growing season, usually only May and June. After that, the asparagus is allowed to grow into a fern so the plant can store nutrients for the winter.
 
Over the growing season, the asparagus is picked every day. If there’s rain, the field might need to be picked more than once. The little spears grow that fast.
 
Thanks to the cool Alberta climate, this asparagus is sweet and tender. It’s available fresh onsite at the Edgar Farms General Store and also at Farmers Markets from Edmonton to Calgary. Soups and pies from Edgar Farms can also be found in the frozen section of some grocery stores.
 
You might like to know that asparagus is a good source of Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, zinc and many other trace nutrients. It is also an excellent source of dietary fibre.
 
wagon ride
 
The festival offered wagon ride tours of the farm and viewing windows for a glimpse of the kitchen. Children visited farm animals, pumped water, and played in the activity centres.
 
And, Aspara-Gussy was on site providing treats and photo-ops.
 
Aspara-Gussy
 
The festival also hosted an Artisan Market with everything from chocolate, nuts and honey to pottery, woodworking and mini donuts.  
 
 
We purchased meat pies, fruit pies, pickled beets and a huge bag of asparagus. I’ve already tasted the Saskatoon rhubarb pie and it’s the best on the planet.
 
I will definitely be at the Festival next year and will most likely stop by the General Store the next time I’m in the area.
 
Have you ever been to an Asparagus Festival?