I respectfully acknowledge that the land in and around Dinosaur Provincial Park is located within the Treaty 7 Territory, the ancestral and traditional territories of the Niitsítpiis-stahkoii ᖹᐟᒧᐧᐨᑯᐧ ᓴᐦᖾᐟ (Blackfoot / Niitsítapi ᖹᐟᒧᐧᒣᑯ), Michif Piyii (Métis), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ people, and that the land in and around Drumheller is located within the Treaty 7 Territory, the ancestral and traditional territories of the Niitsítpiis-stahkoii ᖹᐟᒧᐧᐨᑯᐧ ᓴᐦᖾᐟ (Blackfoot / Niitsítapi ᖹᐟᒧᐧᒣᑯ), Tsuu T’ina, Michif Piyii (Métis), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ people.
Back at the end of April, we headed to Dinosaur Provincial Park for a couple of days. This is definitely one of those adventures that keeps you in check letting you know that not all trips are ever going to be perfect. You may have a shitty time, your life might flash before your eyes, you may run over a cute little animal, you might be scared the whole damn night and not get a wink of sleep, nearly run out of gas, and not be satisfied with the photos you took…
Well, add all of these awful experiences into one trip giving you the perfect combination of a less than ideal way to start off the adventure/camping season. I mean, who even goes tenting at the end of April anyway?!
So, what the heck even happened? Here is what went down:
I didn’t have a great sleep the night before and woke up tired and cranky. I didn’t get most of our gear in order the night before and could not find my long-sleeved hiking shirt. I really just wanted to stay in bed and not go anywhere, but Josh knew that regrets would be made if that happened. It had been quite a while since we had actually gone on an adventure, and we probably weren’t going to be able to go on another one for a while (as our schedules don’t match up as often as we’d like) so begrudgingly I packed up, found my shirt and started the drive down to Dinosaur Provincial Park to explore. But not without stopping at like every coffee shop along the way to fuel up on much needed caffeine first.
Our first stop of the day was in Drumheller to stretch our legs after driving for three hours. We stopped at the souvenir shop by the big dinosaur to buy an enamel pin to add to my collection (I collect pins from the places we go and somehow didn’t have one from Drumheller yet, even though I’ve been many times before). On our way there, we stumbled across a movie being filmed in the parking lot at the Value Drug Mart (I believe it was for the film Let Him Go as they were in the area around that time.)
After a quick pit stop and a full tank of gas, everything seemed to be looking up. I had my coffee, been driving down a quiet road listening to music, we stopped at the hoodoos to have a bite to eat and were now on our way to Dinosaur Provincial Park.
That is when my life flashed before my eyes.
We were driving up a curved section of road, on the left a semi who had started to lose control just as he met us and on the right, a guardrail and a long way down… It all happened so fast, I went into survival mode, got out of that predicament and thankfully we all escaped unscathed and the truck regained it’s control and continued on. I don’t think I had been so scared in my life.
Then not much longer down a very quiet stretch of road that was borderline creepy, a gopher decides to run underneath my tires so quickly that I couldn’t slam on my breaks. I don’t know why, but I looked back into my rear view mirror and saw it’s little friend scurry back to the middle of the road and look at it’s flat, lifeless body then look up at our vehicle driving away. I felt his sadness and I felt so much guilt, and started bawling.
We finally got back out of the wide, open prairies, full of little gophers and dust devils and back into the badlands. We arrived at the campground and found the perfect place to set up camp. We pitched our tent and headed out to the Dinosaur Park Loop to take in the sights and do some exploring for the afternoon. I was still shaken from the close call with the semi and so upset over the gopher and was not having any fun. I decided to make my way back to camp, hang my hammock, chill the heck out, and drink cider for the rest of the afternoon until it was a semi-appropriate time to call it a night and go to bed.
Tomorrow was another day.
(story continues after photos)
I had crawled into bed at like 8 PM. Just done with the day, I wanted to fall asleep while Josh was still up so my imagination didn’t run wild in the dark tent awake by myself. I slept until he crawled into bed, and was up nearly the rest of the night.
The wind started to pick up and the fallen leaves on the ground left over from autumn were dancing around the trees and our tent. It sounded like something was circling us. I was scared. I think shortly after this I had finally dozed off for a bit, and then the wind really started to pick up. And when I mean pick up, I mean I have never experienced high winds of this magnitude in my life. I am honestly surprised our tent remained standing through the night as the wind was blasting our tent on my side, the sides were right in my face and it was pushing me over when I was laying on my side (we have a very small 2 person tent, there isn’t much room). I am confident in saying the winds were up to 60 to 70 km/h that night.
Morning finally came and the winds were still pretty bad and fought them the whole way home. It was cold, gloomy and it looked like snow was on its way. (Spoiler alert, it snowed 15-30 centimeters later that night and into the next couple days and winds were up to 80 km/h) We were tired and felt defeated, we decided to pack it up and start the drive back home stopping at a couple coffee spots along the way again. Silly me decided it was a good idea to not fill up in gasoline alley on the way home thinking I could make it home without topping up. Well, thankfully there is a gas station in South Edmonton Common because I don’t think I would have made it any further. Those last few kilometers just before the city were a little intense.
We finally got home, surprisingly safe and sound after the events had unfolded over the past two days. We were so thankful to crawl into our warm bed and stay there until work the next day. These two days of misadventures really made me wonder if the rest of the year was going to follow suit on these shenanigans, or look up from here.
Until next time, chase the stoke!
- When photographing wildlife, please keep your distance. Parks Canada recommends 30 meters from large animals and 100 meters from bears. Never bait, call, crowd, chase, or capture an animal to take a photo.