Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Elk Island National Park

This past weekend The Lady wanted to go to Edmonton area and asked me if there was any interesting place to see. I suggested Elk Island National Park so we saddled up and headed north early morning. We knew about the wildfires in north but the forecasts all suggested better weather for the time. We have not been far away from the city that a sever thunderstorm started. It was so fast that I found myself in no situation rather than pulling over and waiting for the storm to pass. Most of the drivers did the same. I guess we waited for 15 to 20 minutes and started again.
You could see the smoke over the entire area though. Not having the G. P. S., as it had been stolen from the car almost a month prior to the trip and that is another story which I might tell later, it was a bit hard to find the way to the park. We headed east as we reached Edmonton city limits and took Anthony Henday Dr. We were hoping to get to AB-21 and head north from there but soon we realized we had gone more than we should have and had passed the damn road. I made a U-turn then and headed north after hitting AB-21. As we reached Highway # 16 or Yellowhead Highway and turned toward east we knew we were pretty much safe until we get to the park. For that reason as soon as we saw a big sign with a Bison and Government of Canada logo we though we had reached our destination. But boy was I wrong? Yes. It appeared that where we had turned was facilities of Cooking Lake(!) while the sign suggested something different. I parked to look around and check the maps and at the time an old Gentleman in Jeans and Cowboy hat approached me and asked what I was looking for. I explained to him that we were there for Elk Island National Park and it appeared that the sign has been put on a wrong spot and misleads passengers and strangers(!) but the park entrance was just a few kilometers away at the north side of Yellowhead Highway.
We tasted a few fistful of wild raspberry. They were much smaller than the commercial ones you see in supermarket and not as tasty. In other places, I guess including B. C. I have found bigger, juicier and tastier ones. Maybe from a different kind
We were happy that we had found the park eventually. I guess it was 12:30 or even past that time when we paid the admission and parked at the parking lot of Tawayik Lake. This is supposed to be a fun but long hike to go around the lake and in fact it was not bad. There was no one but us on the trail at the time. Just when we were close to where the two lake of Tawayik and Little Tawayik meet each other a guy showed up and passed us. The trail is really nice and has Raspberry shrubs at both sides. We tried a few. As well there are nice wildflowers. It took us almost 2 hours to reach the spot I just mentioned above and according to the park's brochure we would have another 3 hours to go, had we taken the trail but we rested beside the trail and had our sandwiches there. The Lady was tired and it was a bit hot so we decided to take the trail and go back instead of continuing the loop. 
Our disappointment was that we had neither seen an Elk nor a Bison but we were not able to spend more time. In fact at the rest spot, where we sat for our sandwiches, we were able to locate tiny brown dots which could be Bison(!) but we figures it would probably take up to 2 hours just to reach there assuming they would not relocate. So simply headed back and got to the car.
There are several different types of tiny and beautiful flowers in the park
It was the end of hiking day for us and we wanted to go a hotel, shower and rest. Finding our way to Edmonton was not hard. We had a reservation at Four Points by Sheraton at Gateway and we found the hotel easily although we didn't have, I repeat again, a G. P. S.. I should probably have a post for the hotel because it is a nice, quiet and clean place. Generally I would say that Elk Island National Park should be a nice place to visit but you need more than a few days if you want to see heard of animals and have a few nice hikes. I guess the park is overlooked because of Jasper National Park although it's much closer to the city. If I get another chance I would definitely go back to discover more of that. 
(Photo, top: Tawayik Lake in Elk Islands National Park. This is taken from the beginning of Trail # 9 or the trail which goes around the lake and we did have of it. For the first time in Canada I see the trails are numbered. This is actually a very good system and is widely used in the US by National Park Services. Interesting thing about the name of the lake or lake as the little lake is named the same: Tawayik is a Native term meaning half-way. The Natives would know that they are half-way to their destination, when they got to the lake year and years ago. Would give them a sense of security!)

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