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Miquelon Trails in the Snow


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Miquelon Provincial Park is about 45 minutes southeast of Edmonton, and while it has a lake and year-round campsites, it also has a section that includes some nice backcountry trails. The forecast was for clear and cool, with temperatures around -10.

The park is part of the Cooking Lake Morraine, an area of knob-and-kettle terrain that offers some nice hills and twisting trails. It was a bit of a drive out there, but the roads were pretty good. Saw a coyote on our way in and a moose wandering around just inside the park.

There was about 4-6 inches of fresh powder, so it became a question of whether to opt for ice cleats, plain hiking boots or snowshoes. We started out in cleats and boots, picking a loop along the northern side of the park.

Nice views and scenery, and we set a decent pace.

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We were walking beside a single set of X-country tracks, and assumed at first glance that all the other footprints were made by other hikers. Not the case - ours were the only human ones. We saw moose, elk, deer, fox, hare and coyote tracks, and too many small ones to analyze.

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The problem with fresh powder is that it's like walking in deep sand. The ice cleats helped, but with the trail pitted and bumpy from all the animal tracks, the footing was uncertain. As we all know, you can go about half as far on snowshoes as you can just hiking, but with twisting ankles and X-country tracks to step over all the time, I soon chose to use the snowshoes instead. At least the trail leveled off!

 

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Wrapped up the north section of the trail in record time then stopped for a break.

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A decision to be made; head straight back on the central trails or take the longer Grouse Trail south and around? I took over the lead to set a slower, more comfortable pace to compensate for the distance, and we headed out, covering about 7-8 km more back to the trailhead.

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Lots more tracks, and some old abandoned farm buildings.

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All in all, just a nice early winter hike. Some snow and some nice views, good company and a beautiful day, and a decent bit of exercise.

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Looks like a nice hike Peter, thanks for sharing! Just a couple more weeks and we'll start getting longer days...

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It cooled down to -35C this past week. Starting to warm up again, so I'm off to the mountains this weekend. Hope to have a few nice photos then, too.

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