August 24, 2020
Among those who know of them, southern Alberta’s Porcupine Hills are renowned for their fantastical bouquet of wildflowers that paint the landscape every summer. Joel Van Riper went on AWA’s adventure to visit them earlier this July and recounts his trip:
The morning of the adventure everyone made their way through thick fog to meet in Chain Lakes Provincial Park and convoy to the staging area at the bottom of the Porcupine Hills Ridge. The plan was to first ascend the North side of the ridge, but after learning that a locked gate may pose a problem, we parked our vehicles at the staging area atop the ridge. By the time we arrived at the staging area the sun had burned off the morning fog and we were immediately rewarded with a crystal-clear view overlooking the Southern Eastern Slopes dotted with welcoming cotton ball clouds, and diverse communities of wildflowers greeted us with their vibrant colours and the familiar aroma of summer in Alberta.
A short distance from the staging area a small clearing in the trees provided the only view to the East, which stretched across the landscape so far the horizon and sky mixed into a soft blue medley. After trekking across the ridge, we stopped to have a quick snack near a hoodoo before we set out on a challenging decent through an ancient old growth forest and chest-high fescue grass. Upon reaching the end of the trail we enjoyed a relaxing lunch in the cool shade of an aspen grove.
Once everyone was feeling refreshed, we began our ascent back up the ridge, and we took an off-trail route through the forest to avoid some of the steeper, less forgiving sections of the trail. When we reached the top of the ridge Joanna Skrajny entertained everyone with fun facts and stories of the region’s history and conservation struggles before making our way back to the staging area. This adventure was the perfect combination of pleasant weather, remarkable scenery, and delightful company.
– Joel Van Riper