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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.
then you come to the first of many hills.
Muddy and eroded and nasty - the Microspikes came out and the hiking poles,
and from then on we powered up every hill we came to.
Lots of nice views on the way...
Looking across at our earlier route going up...
and along the river front...
then back onto the trails...
then an easy walk by the river back to the trailhead.
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.
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.
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.