September 22, 2020
Conservation Specialist Nissa Petterson writes of taking a fall adventure with Nick Pink to the Whaleback on September 11, 2020:
Whether it is spring or fall, the Whaleback never disappoints. With golden prairies accenting the undulating montane wilderness to the west, the Whaleback is a picturesque gem of southern Alberta and I welcome any opportunity to explore it.
Our adventure began at the Maycroft Provincial Recreation Area, 15 km south of the Whaleback trial head which is located within the Bob Creek Wildland Provincial Park and Black Creek Heritage Rangeland. It was here we met our fellow adventurers. As you drive up the gravel road running parallel to the Oldman river, which was filled with fly fishermen looking to catch trout, the blackened ridges of this montane wilderness become more prominent, and the reason for its namesake a little more clear. Folks long before us perceived the prominent forested ridges of this area to resemble the spine of a breached humpback whale.
At the trail head, we met some bow hunters returning from an overnight reconnaissance trip, noting the beautiful views and warm weather. As we started on our journey, we quickly discovered our day would be a warm one. By lunch, we were mostly in t-shirts and shorts soaking up the sun on top of the ridges. The gnarly limber pines growing through the folded rocky outcrops were often rest points offering bits of shade and great photo opportunities. As we continued along our trail, our small group shared personal outdoor tidbits and facts about the Whaleback. This included tricks in identifying Douglas fir pinecones and balsamroot, discussing the threat of white pine blister rust to limber pines in the area, and attempting to spot Clark’s nutcrackers after hearing their unique call.
While our adventure group may have been small, our experience in the Whaleback was great in many ways. We shared stories and laughs, which made for a special experience in a beautiful place. I look forward to future adventures in the Whaleback to share its exceptional beauty and the friendship that it fosters.