After three weeks of mostly snow (yes, in April! Snow. In. April. Ok, that's the last of the complaining), N and I had passed on a few of our usual weekends. The snow is fun to hike in and a big change when it happens in November or December. By April, it's just a pain in the butt. Especially since the weather had been alternately warming and freezing, you just never knew what was under your feet.
So for only our second hike of April, we stuck to the tried and true: Fullerton Loop. Familiar, yes. But safe. We thought.
The hike started with a bang. The snow was frozen and the tracks of hikers and their four-legged friends were plentiful. Clearly this had been a popular hike over the past few days. So I'm not quite sure how N spotted this among the other tracks:
All I know is that ain't canine and that ain't feline, which leaves one other option for that area. I was a little surprised since it's such a popular path, but the track looked older (there's snow gathered in the print), and there were no more to be found, so we carefully continued on. We're a pretty loud duo on the trail. We've likely scared off more beasts than we care to admit to.
At least now we know what to look for. And it was a lot different from seeing cougar tracks last November.
While I'm hoping this is the end of the snow, the foothills got the moist heavy snow, not the dry stuff we saw in the city. Maybe it's because the temperature was on the way up to about 20C that day, but everything looked clean and fresh and inviting. No, I won't be sorry to see it gone for the summer, but there's something refreshing about a snowy walk in the woods, and this might be the last of it for a while:
I took some time at the trailhead after the hike was over to take a look around Allen Bill pond (or what used to be Allen Bill pond). I hadn't really spent any time looking around since the floods tore up the area in 2005, and there were plenty of birds around to keep me company:
I knew going in that Allen Bill Pond was named for a Calgary Herald outdoors writer in about 1983 (I believe). I didn't know that prior to being a pond, the area had been a gravel pit. Talk about mind boggling!
The pond had been part of the gravel pit, created by diverting part of the Elbow River. When the area opened as a recreational area in 1983, the diversion was sealed off and the pond was created, with the Elbow River running alongside the pond. In 1995 flooding changed the path of the Elbow River, and in 2005 even worse flooding moved the path right into the pond (in fact, the Elbow tore up a good part of the parking lot!). Now the pond has rejoined the river.
This is from one of the signs on the opposite side of what remains of the pond (not my best work, click for a better view):
Nature is amazing sometimes.
(Funny too, it comes right on the heels of reading a discussion about gravel pits over at Sierra Nevada Ramblings -- Geese and Gravel).
All of my wandering and research was conducted under the watchful eye of a lone goose on the far west side of what remains of the pond. He never let me get too close, which makes me suspect his partner was hiding somewhere nearby. The first time I walked by he jumped into the cold cold water, breaking the very thin layer of ice on top:
If you look really closely, you can see the super-thin ice right beside him. The white and grey ice is much thicker.
The rest of the time, he just ran out into the frozen water and walked away from me, leaving perfect little goose prints in his wake:
I wanted a photo of the prints themselves, but I figured I'd antagonized the poor goose enough (plus ice that holds a goose likely doesn't hold a human!), so I let him be and headed back into the city.....