Adventures for Wilderness

2021 Photo Gallery

Check out all the fun everyone’s been having on our adventures!

As the adventures take place over the course of 2021, be sure to check back here for photos from the adventure, a report back, and more!

(Looking for stories and photos from 2020? Click here or see the “past adventures” menu above.)

Here’s what we have so far…

Winter Skate at Bowness Lagoon

with Sean Nichols, on 27 February, 2021

Sitting around the firepit post-skate and crunching on s’mores, we remarked that the weather had turned out to be pretty much perfect. Weather is always top of mind for an event like this: too warm and the ice is slushy and treacherous; but too cold and everyone just ends up frozen, shivering, and not wanting to do anything.

As it happened, though, we couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off the second season of the A4W program: Adventures for Wilderness 2021! Bright, sunny, calm, a few degrees below freezing, and with the previous night’s snowfall making the forests look fresh and magical.

Magical forests, indeed! In the heart of the city, Bowness Park features a recently-opened 1.6km ice trail winding its way through the trees lying in the Bow river valley, an enchanting setting ripe for exploration from family members of all ages, young and old; on skates and not.

After a quick tour of this “cool” pathway (sorry) and a few spins around the main lagoon, it was definitely time for those of us with shorter legs to return to the firepit and warm up with those s’mores, some hot chocolate, maybe a pepperoni stick or two, and a nice warm blanket.

Speaking of blankets, AWA’s Vivian Pharis was there too, and talked about her childhood growing up in northern BC, and about how they used to keep warm. With moccasins, sometimes several layers deep, stuffed into booties. She had some on-hand to pass around. I have to admit to feeling a bit envious of those with suck beautiful warm gear. After sitting around for a few hours in the early morning’s cold before the event, so that I could reserve the best firepit available, my feet were getting a touch numb!

There was time, as well, for those of us a bit too young to skate, to wander the forest paths in regular boots; so that they might also get a taste of the river valley, and perhaps a quick listen for the first of the spring’s birds calling out. Then, quickly, it seemed the day was over. The first event of this year’s A4W calendar… but for sure not the last!

We have many more events coming your way throughout the year — be sure to look through them to find one whose magic speaks to you too!

Snowshoeing on Waiparous Creek

with Heinz Unger, on 8 March, 2021

On a sunny and quite warm late winter day, Heinz Unger led a fearless group of 10, plus a gentle and curious dog, on a hike up a portion of the frozen over Waiparous Creek. While some stretches were blank ice and folks appreciated their cleats, other stretches were still covered by deep snow. And due to the recent warmer weather there were a few tricky spots when crossing the main channel had to be done rather carefully to make sure the ice bridge was still holding up. At one point the group had to scramble through the forested steep bank because the ice bridge had melted away. It was great to hike through cool shady stretches and then be out in the sun again, looking up the steep rocky and / or wooded banks on each side. Once off the creek we clambered up the steep Spring Trail, right along a bubbling spring flowing all year round. The return portion of the hike was made on a trail maintained by the Ghost Waiparous Trail Association in the “Back 40”, a recreational lease on Provincial Public Land, held jointly by the Village of Waiparous and the MD of Bighorn. The adventure was concluded with cookies and hot chocolate or mulled apple juice on Heinz & Marilyn’s meadow in nearby Benchlands.

X-Country Ski the Mount Shark Loop

with Jamie Jack, on 13 March, 2021
(story from Sky England, one of the Adventure’s hardy participants)

On a glorious March day, 14 Albertans gathered, divided into socially-distant groups, to tackle the 15 km Green Loop of the Mount Shark Trail system. Don’t be fooled by the misnomer “Green” — we quickly learned that the trail lived up to its “difficult” rating with some seriously steep ups and downs. We tried to be graceful, but sometimes we looked more like Bambi on ice on those hills and we all had a fall or three to laugh about.

Nevertheless, we pressed on, our spirits carried by the warm sun and beautiful peaks. The back half levelled out with more gentle slopes and gorgeous views. Some four hours later, we reconvened at the parking lot, tired and happy, for some snacks and beverages provided by our fearless leader, Jamie Jack. What a special day to be in the incomparable Alberta wilderness.

– Sky England

The following photos were taken by several people who came along on the adventure; we are especially indebted to The Nogues for their shots that so perfectly capture the thrill and joy of this great day. Check out their site at for more of their photography!

Crocus Hunt on Nose Hill

with Christyann Olson, on 24 March, 2021
(story from Jim Campbell)

Led by Christyann Olson, Executive Director of the Alberta Wilderness Association, ten intrepid Crocus hunters gathered on the eastern fringe of Nose Hill Park on Wednesday, March 24 to search for anemone patens (a.k.a.: prairie crocus), that classic harbinger of spring, and thus specially loved by winter-weary Prairie folk.

This Adventure had special meaning for Christyann as for many years she and Margaret Main, a long time AWA volunteer, had a friendly competition going to see who would be first to spot a sprouting Crocus each Spring. Sadly, Margaret passed away last year after a brief illness so this outing was also a tribute to this wonderful woman who was beloved by so many in the AWA community.

If one wants to take a leisurely pace then the sure formula is to bring along a Botanist and a Geologist on your hike. Karel Bergmann and Tako Koning respectively filled these roles this day, and they ensured that every plant and every rock along our path was thoroughly examined for all its intricacies.

As we set out, Karel set the tone by describing an intriguing exercise he had undertaken one December in dead plant classification that garnered more than 70 plants identified. On one small rock outcropping he found no less than seven species of lichen. Even on the apparently barren post-winter prairie there is so much to observe. Tako for his part, used the opportunity to educate us about the impact of glaciation on Southern Alberta’s topography. Always, a favourite topic for folks in our area no matter how often we hear it. Did you know there is a glacial erratic chipped from Mt. Edith Cavell near Jasper that now rests on Nose Hill Park? It is such a joy to be in the field with experts like Karel and Tako as one always learns something new, and gains a deeper appreciation for all that there is to be seen even in our own “backyard.” Many thanks to each of them for their contributions to this Adventure.

Another aspect of the walk was a clean-up effort. As pristine as the park might look from a distance there is always trash to be found so the team diligently scoured the land for odd bits of plastic, paper, and yes, even the odd pet poop bag. We encourage everyone to make a habit of putting a bag of some sort in your pocket or pack to collect such items, whether they were left deliberately or inadvertently. Such small efforts by everyone can make a huge contribution to preventing the otherwise inevitable degradation of our natural areas.

As the happy band of wanderers meandered upwards we began to despair that any budding crocuses would be found. Thanks to Karel’s experience and eagle eye however we did find one small bud, and then another, and yet another. Ultimately there were ten, coincidentally one budding Crocus for each Adventurer. Margaret would have been well pleased.

Thanks to all who participated in and supported this Adventure for Wilderness. You can be sure your contributions are deeply appreciated. May you all find many more Crocuses in the coming days.

– Jim Campbell

Additional thanks to Karel Bergmann for providing many of the following photos of the day:

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