Written on April 29, 2020, by Sean Nichols
Adventure coordinator Heather shares her story about building bee boxes for Alberta’s native pollinators:
Our family has been involved with the Climb For Wilderness for as long as I can remember. I have been participating and volunteering with the climb since I was in high school back in the ‘90s. It was always a highlight for me to raise awareness with my friends and co-workers about the Alberta Wilderness Association and they were always happy to support me to do the climb by giving generous donations. Back then, climbing the stairs of a skyscraper was kind of a crazy idea! Often I would get asked “Do you climb up the outside?”.
Over the years, the climb evolved including a poetry competition, stairwell painting and even changing venues. Our daughter inspired her classmates, friends and their families to join in the fun and we often had a group of 10-20 people join us to participate in the climb every year. It was a fun and educational event that just always happened.
When we got the news the climb would not be going ahead this year and the AWA was needing to adapt the event – we were shocked. And of course we wanted to know how we could support the AWA as the climb had always been their major fundraiser.
The Adventures for Wilderness was born out of an idea of having people become actively involved in the splendor Alberta has to offer. Building an adventure for Adventures for Wilderness has been an adventure in itself! Our family had been learning about Alberta’s Native Bees and thought maybe this would be a good starting point for an activity where participants could make bee boxes that are appropriate for Alberta’s native bee populations. And it is always fun to do a scavenger hunt so why not incorporate technology and do a GPS scavenger hunt around our coulees in Edgemont? What a fun afternoon that would be – Pollinator Power! But I knew we would need help. Enter Dan Olson – carpenter extraordinaire! We needed a blueprint for a bee box and the materials to make them. He took the challenge and as you can see from the photos, the result is amazing. What bee wouldn’t want to live in one of these?
But as February turned into March a pandemic was sweeping across the world and Alberta. We knew we would have to change the event as social distancing became the new norm. I learned how to use a drill press and a hand router. Dan and I built 48 bee boxes over the course of a few days – keeping our 6ft distance, of course.
The event Pollinator Power! turned into a social distance success. For a minimum $50 donation a hand made bee box would be delivered to your doorstep – with all funds going straight to the AWA! Bee boxes started flying out the door. People are excited to invite native pollinators into their gardens and support the AWA.
Pollinators perform an extremely important job and Alberta’s Native Bees need our help. By putting a bee box in your garden, you are making a difference. Even the smallest yard or balcony can welcome native bees. If you have a bee box in your garden, you can also participate in a citizen science project with the Alberta Native Bee Council to help them gather data. They will even come to your home to collect the nest if your box is colonized. The more bee boxes we have the better it will be for all of Alberta’s native flora and fauna. In fact, as I write this, we only have 17 bee boxes left! We are looking forward to next year, hoping we can go with the original plan of gathering, learning, building and having fun together. But for now, enjoy the quieter world and hear the bees.
Coordinator for Pollinator Power!
Written on March 13, 2020, by Sean Nichols
The enthusiasm and support from 15 friends for the chance to head out on an Adventure made AWA’s Adventures for Wilderness first ever event, Friends-Fish-A-Thon, a tremendous success!
Our adventure started on Friday with a race against time; we boogied to set up our staging area and drill our holes in the ice before the weather socked in and the blowing snow kept us huddled by our fire. By Friday evening, we had 4cm of snow, with more to come. We bunkered down in our tent, hoping to catch some late roving and hungry walleyes. Saturday morning we woke up to -20°C, and welcomed some more friends that popped in for a day visit. We roamed around the lake, drilling holes and using a fishcam hoping to spot some schools of perch, or even just a single monster pike. We also took time to help our friends at Alberta Lake Management Society with one of their citizen science programs, the Winter Lakekeepers Program. We recorded the total dissolved oxygen at various depths of the lake, and took a sample of the water to test Total Phosphorous-all of which help indicate the overall health of the lake. As the day progressed, more snow arrived and some of our friends who couldn’t overnight on the lake had to leave. As the snow continued to fall, we resumed our posts hoping to pair our dinner with a side of fish, and eventually, our efforts paid off! We caught a 26 inch pike on a tip up located outside of the tent. It ended up being the only fish we caught over the weekend, but at least we can say we weren’t completely shut out! The catch rejuvenated our spirits, and we celebrated over a tasty meal. Sunday morning came, and it was time to pack up and head home, however it seemed that Mother Nature didn’t to want us to leave. By Sunday morning, a total of 9 cm of snow had accumulated bogging down our vehicles, in addition to a couple of frozen vehicle batteries. With some shoveling, pushing, and a little bit of kitty litter, we eventually made it out safely – with stories to tell!
Despite the challenging cold weather and some pretty slow fishing, our Adventure for Wilderness made for a memorable weekend, bringing good people together to celebrate a common passion: a love for Alberta’s wilderness.
I want to thank everyone who sponsored our adventure – while there are still some sponsorships coming in – we have already met our $2000 target. We are still hoping more of you might sponsor our Adventure; we are collecting until July 31!
Written on March 10, 2020, by Sean Nichols
We are all deeply saddened to let you know that our dear friend Richard Guy passed away on Monday morning. He was 103 years young.
We will all miss his enthusiasm, his inspiring words and amazing strength for climbing stairs! He knew so many of you who took part in our climbs and we were all inspired by him and his undying love for Louise. He and his team had been busy planning an Adventure for this year and we hope that it will continue in his honour.
Announcements about a memorial are expected in the coming days. Over the years we have saved a number of quotes that were Richard’s and he often said he was one of the luckiest men; not only because of his wonderful wife but because he got to do what he liked. And so a parting word from Richard seems fitting:
“Do what you like, I think that is the important thing.”
Written on March 7, 2020, by Sean Nichols
One month after the launch of our 2020 Adventures for Wilderness programme, the first adventures are drawing near: A cross-country ski trip from Canmore to Banff and a 48-hour ice fishing trip!
With Adventures happening from March through June and even beyond, we’re sure to have something that suits your style. Perhaps that’s a winter adventure, maybe it’s a summer adventure, or something indoors… or maybe you don’t care: you just want to get out there and have fun. Here’s what’s coming up!
Ski Crosscountry from Canmore to Banff
If you’re really itching to get out there and enjoy the snow, Jamie Jack, Sky England and Hannah Slomp have the perfect cure for those winter blues: a cross-country ski trip from Canmore to Banff! This 18km ski trip along the Goat Creek Trail has quickly become a fast favourite among those who have been able to undertake it. March 14th is your chance to make it a favourite of yours too!
Help Friends Fish-A-Thon reach their fundraising goal!
From March 7-8, Nissa Petterson and friends will be spending 48 hours ice fishing, winter camping, and performing some citizen science to test the lake’s overall health in conjunction with the Alberta Lake Management Society. Sponsor this Adventure to help them reach their goal of raising $2000 for Alberta’s wild waters.
Have an idea for an adventure?
Written on January 31, 2020, by Sean Nichols
Since we last wrote to tell you about Alberta Wilderness Association’s new event, things have been unfolding with an amazing precision and we’re all pretty excited!
The response to Adventures for Wilderness has been overwhelming. With a dozen adventures from around Alberta posted to our website and several more in the queue awaiting a few final touches, we’re ecstatic that we can finally offer the ability to include people from across this amazing province, and connect with the wilderness they love and know that’s in their own backyard.
For example, here’s one of our great new adventures this year: A Garden Exploration led by longtime AWA friend and expert botanist Vivian Pharis. Vivian has an amazing day in June planned for her adventurers: a visit to four beautiful private gardens in the highlands west of Calgary, with time for refreshments in one of these gorgeous settings. Each of the gardens comprises a fascinating example of Chinook belt horticulture, and will be accompanied by the host gardener explaining their approach to moulding elements of the wild into themes representative of beautiful wild rockeries or woodlands. This is a very rare chance to see these private gardens, and anyone who raises $100 or more will be given the opportunity to participate in this exclusive adventure with Vivian.
That’s just one of the adventures we already have up on the site! Not your speed? If you’re looking for something a bit more, well, adventurous, then how about a hike around the Jumping Pound Mountain Circuit with Chris Saunders? Looking for a winter adventure? We have a cross-country ski trip from Canmore to Banff with Jamie Jack. In Edmonton? Stand-up paddle boarding on the North Saskatchewan River with Gail Docken. Prefer to stay inside and let your mind do the adventuring? A wilderness-themed trivia night with Sean Nichols.
And for those of you that just miss climbing the stairs, then stay tuned! We have a couple of different stair-climbing ideas just for you folks that are about ready to bloom. We hope to have them up on the site soon, so keep checking back!
The range of adventures really does leave us inspired. We hope you agree, and that you’ll join us on one — if not more — of these adventures.
Or better yet: we hope you’ll also be inspired by these ideas, just like we have! Is there an adventure that you’d like to go on? We can’t wait to hear about it! We’d love to see more and more of your wilderness adventures popping up all over the province. There’s a form right on the website where you can submit your idea. We’ll be happy to add it to our map along with the other adventures. When you register your adventure, we’ll be in touch with fundraising ideas and will set up a dedicated page where you can promote your adventure, invite participants, collect sponsorships and more.
In the meantime, keep an eye on our website and social media pages for details and news of the Adventures being planned.
What’s Your Adventure?
Written on January 13, 2020, by Sean Nichols
After 28 successful Climb for Wilderness events, Alberta Wilderness Association is celebrating 55 years as an association with a new and exciting event — Adventures for Wilderness.
Despite every possible effort we have had it confirmed that we are not able to use the Bow Building for our event. As disappointing as that is and after realizing we needed to change; “let’s get outdoors” was the response. And so we are doing just that, we have reinvented Climb for Wilderness.
This is AWA’s 55th year and with your help, we are continuing in our tradition of renewal and reinvigorating and being nimble!
We hope you will join the fun of creating your own adventure and being part of AWA’s plan to get out there! With a limit of 55 adventures designed by people who care about wilderness and wildlife we expect to have adventures that will cover the province and even be in locations where we have members across Canada.
Watch this space for details and news of the adventures being planned.