Tessa’s 12th birthday hike

This heatwave creates a special set of criteria for hiking with our beloved dog who turned 12 on July 8: A trail which is offleash, with frequent shade, and accessible water. 

Tessa as a puppy on Prairie Creek in Oct 2005

We knew where to find the trail, the shade and the water. The bones of a deer carcass were a birthday bonus which we hadn’t been expecting. 

Prairie Creek in Elbow Valley was the trail of choice for hiking on a +30°C scorching hot day. We hiked on this trail with Tessa for the first time in Oct 2005 when she was just a puppy. In later years, we went back on hot days and enjoyed watching her swim in some of the deeper parts of the creek. 

Tessa swimming in Prairie Creek in 2007

The trail starts out in a canyon with steep walls, so we had wonderful shade, and the creek runs close to the trail. If there is an old bone within 50 metres of the trail, Tessa can find it and she led us right to a deer carcass with the rib cage still intact, but all the meat had been eaten, probably by a cougar. 

Hikers with their dogs on Prairie Creek

As we hiked further, where the trail is exposed to the sun, we observed a large variety of wild flowers and lots of them. The harebell are now in bloom.

The strawberry patch

The best discovery for Tessa’s humans was the wild strawberry patch. We found enough strawberries to pick a good handful. 

A bonanza of wild strawberries on Prairie creek

Have you ever had the delightful and mouth-watering pleasure of tasting a wild strawberry? How about the guilty pleasure of eating a whole handful, with their juices exploding in a burst of flavour and sweetness in your mouth? Tiny and rare and hard to find, which makes the experience even more to be savoured. Wholesome and good, yet decadent.

Paintbrush along Prairie Creek

These are not the frankenfood supermarket variety. You can’t buy anything like this in the store…heck, not even at a farmer’s market. Compared to those enormous mutants which are cultivated with the use of pesticides and chemicals, these tiny morsels are microscopic in size, but the intensity of flavour is a thousand times as big.

Tessa cools off in Prairie Creek

When scrunched, they are full of juice which runs down your lips and tastes like the wild, uncontrolled, unadulturated earth from whence they came.

Wild strawberries are the most intense, sweet, flavourful food I’ve ever tasted. 

A note to dog owners, most of the trails in the Elbow Valley are offleash, but your dog is required to be on a leash in the parking lots. 

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