Berry Territory

“We are definitely in bear country now”

This was one of the first things that came to mind as we started our hike on Castle Mountain in Alberta Canada this last week. Walking off the trail for even 5 minutes led to lush underbrush, and even more luscious, bright, juicy berries!

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Saskatoon, Thimble-Berry, and Raspberries

This area is one that is perfect for wildlife and vegetation. Micro-climates give a cool break to the deserted rocky caps, and provide enough humidity for tasty pickings. If I were a bear, this would be my home.

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Cool getaway from heated rocky mountains

So we knew walking into this area that we had to keep our wits about us. Castle mountain has been used as a mountain resort for many years; a place where animals and humans must share the mountain landscape, giving plenty of chances for wildlife encounters.

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This hiking trail is used in the winter as a ski trail

As we hiked closer up to the peaks, the weather changed, getting hot fast! These southern facing mountain slopes see a lot of sun during the day, and they make for a great picture.

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Lots of sun to help weather and break away the shale bedrock!

Being that this area is on crown land, I was able to collect a few different colours of shale for my ring making. The colours and variations are all so beautiful and unique. It’s fun imagining what kind of geological process could have taken place in these beautiful landscapes to create such incredible stones..

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We began to wind up and around as we made our way for the top of the mountain. We appreciated every shadow and piece of shade along the way, as I am sure most animals do when they are hiking on a hot summers day.

The time when the sun begins to set is when wildlife like to make their move across the landscape. It is much easier to travel when you don’t need to fight with the heat of the sun.

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The view from the side of the mountain across the valley

Once we were close to the peak, we had a decision to make, one that most hikers face each time they go out; Do I turn back now, or is it safe to keep going? A few minutes into contemplation and a few weary steps ahead, we began to hear loud movement from the deep forest, next to our trail, and remembered all the instances that day where we saw scat that could have been from a bear.. It had seemed as though the universe had answered our question, and it was safe to say it was time to go! So we hurried back down the mountain, making sure we made plenty of sound as we went.

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The hike down was not an easy one with such high elevation

And now I am stocked up on beautifully coloured shale, ready to create my next piece of paradise, in honor of my visit here in the exquisite Alberta rockies.

Until the next adventure, blessed be, and be berry aware!!

Catherine Sera

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