Paul Cutting

The life and times of:

Photo Story: Abandoned Homestead Hike – Qu’Appelle Valley

Photo Story: Abandoned Homestead Hike – Qu’Appelle Valley

May 9, 2017 – Repost from my previous website.

Back on May 27, 2017 my friend Terry and I joined a club organized by Canada’s Explore Magazine called the “Live the Adventure Club.”  It is a subscription based club that supplies the members with an “adventure box” every quarter.  The adventure box includes outdoor gear (surprise items!) and challenges to complete with the items.  Our mission today was to complete these challenges while making our way to an abandoned homestead in the valley.  With the permission of private land owners we set out on our adventure.

The trail started out wide and easy to traverse cutting straight through an old aspen grove that looked like it would be quite creepy under a full moon.  Truly though, it was beautiful to walk through and smelled of springtime.

Soon the trail narrowed and we arrived at the first of five water crossings we had to traverse.  This one took the longest to navigate as it was a thirty-foot-wide mud bog that required us to carefully pick and choose which patch of grass to step on to avoid filling out boots with mud and water.

After conquering the bog, we continued into a clearing with the Qu’Appelle River on one side of us and a beautiful rock covered hill on the other.  I had to go check out the lichen covered rocks on the hill side, so Terry and I climbed to the top taking some photos along the way.

The lichen covering the rocks was a beautiful rainbow of colors and textures but what we saw when we crested the hill was even better.  A two tiered beaver pond!  The view was incredible as the valley is exploding with color as the trees and shrubs new leaves start to appear.

We walked down to investigate this engineering marvel and that’s when we discovered the skull.  Terry reached into the crack in earth that was swallowing up the skull and pulled it out by the eye socket.

Back on the trail we came across a second stream crossing that we decided to follow up the valley.  It is interesting to note that these streams are mostly fed by natural springs and are flowing quite steadily, some more than others however.  We found a spot we could easily access the stream and decided to have a drink using our Lifestraws.

Before this hike I added some secondary laces to my boots that included flint and striker. Be prepared.

Continuing on back down the valley we came across some dense moss and an interesting tree with a branch that seemed to fall off and crumble in place.

As we made our way out of the coulee we had to cross another flooded and muddy portion of the trail.  We had to hold onto tree branches and carefully balance along an old piece of culvert to prevent our boots from being filed with water, or worse, taken by the mud.  Our reward for making it across this stream was a beautiful clearing with another hill to climb which presented us with an amazing view at the top.  Also a great place to take a rest on our Pocket Couches.

The rain was starting to make itself known at this point but we were about to discover something that is always exciting to find when hiking in the spring.  Crocus!

After enjoying the bountiful crocus flowers, we were once again presented by a swiftly flowing spring to cross.   This one was deep but we could jump across it after climbing down to the water level.

Terry and I hiked through more brush and along the Qu’Appelle River banks until we finally spotted our destination, an old homestead in the valley.

The interior of the farm house looked as you would expect after being abandoned for many years.  We decided to pause for a moment and take in what it might have been like to live here with the view out the front windows overlooking the Qu’Appelle Valley. Why not read a magazine while you enjoy your surroundings?

Under the watchful eyes of a pair of mule deer we checked out the rest of the homestead.

After exploring the abandoned homestead, it was time to head back to the truck.  The dramatic skies decided it was time to rain on us again so we picked up the pace.  We made it across all of the streams and mud bogs, found the truck and headed back home.   On the drive back to Regina we made a detour to see one of southern Saskatchewan’s most photographed churches.  The St. Nicholas Kennel Anglican Church.  We also passed another of my favorite local hiking spots, Hidden Valley. You should look it up and go for a hike.

Hope you enjoyed following us on our hike through the Qu’Appelle Valley.  Share some of your hiking photos with us on twitter or instagram.