2023 Photo Gallery
Check out all the fun everyone’s been having on our adventures!
As the adventures take place over the course of 2023, be sure to check back here for photos from the adventure, stories from the participants, and more!
(Looking for stories and photos from previous years? See the “past adventures” menu above.)
Here’s what we have so far…
Ice, Glaciers, Gravel and Oil: Cochrane North Field Trip
Text and photos: Grace Sutherland
This full day field trip was a chance to explore the fascinating Northern Cochrane area with Tako Koning. We traveled from site to site to learn more about glacial geology, and the environmental impacts of gravel mining and oil producing operations. We started off by visiting parts of the deeply eroded glacial melt water channel that the Big Hill Creek flows through. Gerry Bietz, who is a part of the Bighill Creek Preservation Society, was kind enough to share his knowledge on the proposed Mountain Ash Gravel Mine and explained the negative impacts it will have on the environment.
After a busy morning, we relaxed in the shade, ate some lunch, and listened to the beautiful sounds of nature. It was hard to imagine that this amazing experience would not be possible if a gravel mine was built right beside our lunch spot. No calming sounds of the birds, trees, creek, or insects. We continued on with the field trip and learnt about the extraction of oil, along with its environmental impacts. As we visited each site, we met very nice people along the way. Farmers and ranchers kindly shared their stories about the land they work with everyday.
It was great to see a group of all ages learning together and sharing their thoughts. The highlight of the trip was the breathtaking views, which is always the highlight in Alberta.
Waiparous Creek Ice Walk
Text: Heinz Unger
Photos: Lindsey Wallis
The weather was good, and the turnout of hikers was good but the snow was deep – so much so that one participant wondered why this was advertised as “an ice walk”. It was a bit of a slog through the newly fallen deep snow but we could often hear the water flowing under our feet and also occasionally see open water sections of the creek or areas that had recently frozen over again. We were very fortunate that Wendell Koning, a retired Alberta Environment senior staff, was on the hike; he had lots of information to share about water quality and also how fish survive the winter under the frozen rivers.
As we made our way through sunny and shady sections of the deeply cut creek, we tried to read the various wildlife tracks that crossed our path (there wasn’t always full agreement). Quite tired already we reached the point where we left the creek and entered the forest for the return trip. Hiking up a steep slope we admired a forest spring that keeps flowing throughout the deep winter temperatures. After a brisk hike along the top escarpment of Waiparous Creek some of the group headed back home while others enjoyed hot cider and refreshments at the Ungers’ home in Benchlands overlooking the Ghost River.
Family Nature Skate
Text and photos: Lindsey Wallis
It was a lovely day at the end of February. Sunny skies and warm temps made it feel almost springlike as families glided around Bowness Lagoon on Sunday afternoon. One family even tried an ice bike! We skated all the way down the long creek and then returned to the firepit to roast some marshmallows and enjoy a well-deserved hot chocolate. Our dedicated volunteer, Grace Sutherland, was on hot chocolate duty and did a great job.
We shared some hot chocolate with other families that happened to be out enjoying the sunshine and they also got to check out our grizzly bear claws and footprint, deer antlers and learn about what we do at AWA. There was one lady who had never roasted a marshmallow in her life! The look on her face when she bit into the ooey gooeyness was incredible.
I’m sure all the kiddos slept well that night!
Text: Heinz Unger
Photos: Devon Earl and Catherine Wilde
The prospects weren’t good: It was rather warm for January, there was little snow left and we were concerned the ice bridges were weakening. Then things got worse: it snowed quite a bit, the roads got rather treacherous and some seriously cold temperatures were in the forecast for the day of the hike on Waiparous Creek.
But you can’t have a good adventure without a little hardship right? We had a great turnout of some 15 hardy AWA supporters to join Heinz and Kris, the sun broke through occasionally and the new snow made everything more beautiful. Although it was also a bit of a slog tracking through the deep snow, we were distracted by the occasional ponds of open water, the sound of the river flowing under foot (under the ice), and the occasional air hole through the ice where we could hear and see the flowing water. The canyon walls were steep and high, with either forest cover or bare rock on either side.
Eventually, after a brief break in the dappled sun, we hiked up along a flowing spring through steep forest back to the parking area via an easy walking trail. Along the way we stopped at a new memorial bench for David Lertzmann who died in an encounter with a grizzly bear at that spot almost two years ago. The hike was concluded with hot drinks and treats at the Ungers’ in Benchlands.
Text: Willow Pawlak
Photos: Lindsey Wallis
The first week of February 2023 was a frigid one. But a weekend chinook brought clear, sunny skies and temperatures above freezing. This was a good thing for snowshoeing for newcomers adventure, led by Lindsey Wallis. Participants were introduced to the activity with the great combination of fresh snow and a warm day.
Both the morning and afternoon sessions met in Fish Creek Provincial Park, the only provincial park within the city of Calgary and a close-to-home nature getaway. That was certainly true on this Saturday for the families that joined us. Once everyone had their snowshoes on, we set out to explore the fields and woodlands that make up this stunning area. As the sounds of traffic faded away, we identified tracks, scat and houses of the animals who make this park their home. While the birds’ nests are empty this time of year, we were treated to the calls of flickers and the sight of chickadees, ravens and a bald eagle. The kids had particular fun making their own tracks, leaving shapes in the snow and enjoying a snowball fight.
Towards the end of the adventure, we stepped onto the frozen Fish Creek, the stream for which the park is named. Here, we learned important rules about ice safety and the “leave-no-trace” principle. Previous park visitors had built ice sculptures from blocks that broke off the creek. Our last stop was to admire these before heading back through the poplar forest to the parking lot.