Fun Ways to Power through to Winter’s Finish Line!
If you’re like me, you like winter, but find it hard to keep up your enthusiasm as February approaches. This is when the winter blahs creep in for many of us. Finding outdoor activities to keep us going until those first melts of spring occur can be daunting.
Fight the urge to spend the last 6 weeks of winter on the couch by trying some new activities! We’ve compiled a list of 6 affordable, family friendly ways to help you get outside and connect with nature! These ideas will help you make it to the winter finish line!
#1 – Most Affordable: Winter Walks!
There are easy to access, beautiful winter trails in Eagle Point Provincial Park that are well packed and easy to navigate with a pair of winter boots. Head east of Drayton Valley on 50 Avenue and check out the Rotary-Pembina Nordic Community Trails South. There are 4 loops on these wide, well used trails. Make your way to Loop C for an outstanding view of the river valley below. For outstanding views on the river from a single track trail, head north of Drayton to Twp 494, then east to the Pembina Nordic Centre. From the rustic chalet, there are two single track trails (one going east, one going west) that are great for walking or fat tire biking. Both trails follow the ridge above the North Saskatchewan River for breathtaking views! For either location, we recommend a pair of cleats if you have them. Remember to keep your dog on a leash and pick up after them.
#2 – For Night Owls: A Star Gazing Treat
The Green Comet ZTF, which hasn’t entered Earth’s orbit for 50,000 years, is passing close enough to Earth that viewers in the Northern Hemisphere will be able to view it for this February! Best observed with binoculars or a telescope, it will be visible to the north after sunset (around 6:49 pm) on February 1. The comet will remain visible through early February. When closest to the Earth, it will be visible in the Camelopardalis constellation (a faint area of the sky close to the celestial pole). A great place to get simple information on visible celestial objects is https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/night/@5883102
#3 – For Adrenaline Junkies: Tobogganing in Blue Rapids Prov. Rec. Area
The Blue Rapids Area has some wicked hills! Some of these hills happen to be on ATV trails, but if they’re not in use, why not give them a go? Head east of Drayton to RR 71, go south, then take one of many access roads to the right to discover your own new toboggan hill. Please remember to use caution and always go with friends or family!
#4 – Try Something New – Nordic Skiing or Snowshoeing for Newbies
If you’ve never tried Nordic Skiing, the Pembina Nordic Centre boasts some of the finest groomed trails in Alberta. There are beginner trails and more challenging trails. If you don’t own a pair of skis, reach out to the club and rent a pair at pembinanordic.ca.
Snowshoeing is a fast growing outdoor activity too and it doesn’t require a trail! You can trek across fields in the moonlight or discover new places to explore within our two local parks. If you want to try it, rent a pair from Eagle Point-Blue Rapids Parks Council. Contact email@example.com to enquire.
#5 – For Nature Nerds – Birding – Winter Edition
Many birders set aside their binoculars in winter but we beg to differ! Winter birding in the Drayton Valley area can be pretty rewarding, especially in town, where birds are visiting the many feeders put out by the generous people of our community. In addition to feeder birds (Finches, Chickadees, Blue Jays, Pine Siskins), you can spot Rock Doves, Magpies, Ravens, Bohemian Waxwings, Merlins and House Sparrows within the town’s limits. The forested areas near town may provide you with various owl and woodpecker species, Canada Jay and Brown Creepers. If you really need a “spring” fix, head to the Keephills or Genesee Power Plants to see a multitude of water fowl that have chosen not to migrate, including Tundra Swans, Buffleheads, Ruddy Ducks and more. Bald Eagles often can be found in these areas too, hunting ducks.
#6 – For History Buffs – A Hunt for Heritage Buildings
Pack a lunch, fill up a thermos with hot chocolate and don’t forget your camera. Take a trip into the surrounding country side on a hunt for heritage! How many old hip roofed barns, log structures and grain elevators can you discover within a 1/2 day or a full day? Remember to ask permission before entering private land to photograph these gems. Hurry, they are disappearing one by one! Dig deeper when you get home to discover the history behind the places that you were able to discover.
We hope this list keeps you busy and inspired until spring arrives! Get outdoors and embrace the last of winter and you’ll find you’ve made it to the winter finishing line before you know it!