Devon Trails and Flagging Tape

2:34 p.m. on November 6, 2012 (EST)
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I organized a hike by the North Saskatchewan river on Saturday, near a town called Devon. There are some nice hiking  trails there that are also the site of the Devon Enduro, a mountain bike race that includes some 470 metres of elevation gain per circuit.

Devon is also the location of Leduc #1, the oil well that first kicked off Alberta's oil boom back in 1947. The area is laced with pipelines, and there are pumpjacks in almost every field you drive by.

It was an overcast day, with a few centimetres of fresh snow. Temperatures were around -5°C, so the trails were slippery and wet in spots. Kind of drab, but pleasant enough.

The trails follow the river for a short distance, threading through the bush.
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then you come to the first of many hills.
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Muddy and eroded and nasty - the Microspikes came out and the hiking poles,
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and from then on we powered up every hill we came to.

Lots of nice views on the way...


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but mostly just forest paths with some decent ups and downs.

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Passed some hoodoos...
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then the trail climbed away from the river up into a wooded ravine.
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Better views of the river below us
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and of the ravine from the top.
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Down into the woods...image.jpg
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Hard to think that the whole ravine was originally made accessible by the oil companies cutting pipelines through.

Pipeline route

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and warning signs.
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We stopped at the top and had a break, then came back down again. By crossing a bridge (with nice views of the beaver dams along the creek) we were able to avoid retracing our route.
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At the bottom, we were able to rejoin the river, just starting to freeze along its edges.
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Looking across at our earlier route going up...


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and along the river front...


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then back onto the trails...

More hills...
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then an easy walk by the river back to the trailhead.

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When I first posted the hike on my website. I initially got about 40 people who wanted to come along. One of my organizers suggested she do the same hike the following day to take some of the load off and that let her create a second group. While she is an experienced mountaineer (her last mountain in the Elburz was 5757 m/18,887 ft) she'd never done the trail before. While there was no real danger, I didn't want her getting lost with her group.

They had a nice walk, with a sunnier day and warmer weather.
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Tundra Swan
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(photos Andrew Gowenlock)

I'm not fond of flagging tape - I think of it as litter - but I decided I'd have to make an exception. I stopped at every trail junction and flagged a handy bush so they'd know which way to turn, rather than  having the group wander around for hours getting lost. Having done that, I was rather forceful about asking them to remove the tape after they'd passed, and was gratified to see this photo the next day.


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Just another exploration, I guess, but even a grey, drab day on the trails is better than ten sunny ones in town. Good exercise, good company, and a few interesting things to see along the way.

2:43 p.m. on November 6, 2012 (EST)
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"but even a grey, drab day on the trails is better than ten sunny ones in town"

Oh yeah!

 

Nice job Peter,

 

now what's a hoodoo?

2:52 p.m. on November 6, 2012 (EST)
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Hoodoos are a geological feature common along the valleys of the sedimentary plains that make up the prairies. Basically, when exposed, layers of harder material protect softer material underneath from erosion. That makes a series of 'hats' sitting on top of posts of sand or other sediment.

The ones at Devon are perhaps 10 metres high, but some down in the badlands can be much, much higher.

August 30, 2014
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