Hiking through Halfway Lake, discovery-style

Today’s post comes from Megan and Cora, two of Halfway Lake Provincial Park‘s discovery guides. 

As discovery guides, part of our job is inspiring, encouraging, and motivating visitor to explore and discover nature everywhere!

two staff members

What better way to motivate others than to be an explorer yourself and share your experiences.

Halfway Lake Provincial Park is home to four beautiful trails; Moose Ridge, Hawks Ridge, Osprey Heights and Echo Pond!

We decided to go out for a few hours to explore, observe and discover our Echo Pond Trail.

The alphabet challenge

We started out by using one of the prompts offered in our Discovery Hike Drop-in: “The Alphabet Challenge.” The prompt reads “Look around. From here until the next stop, how far along the alphabet can you get by finding things in nature that start with each letter?”

We had a lot of fun with this one – some letters are hard so we had to be inventive. Some of our far-out examples were “U” for umbrella of trees, “Z” for zig-zagging across rocks on the trail, and “H” because we’re in Halfway Lake Provincial Park!

This activity inspired exploration by motivating us to get a closer look at nature, while having a couple of laughs along the way.

Give it a try yourself!

Finding friends

Staff member with insect
Cora and one of her discoveries

After we finished (the only letter we couldn’t find was X), we continued looking for new discoveries.

We put on our explorer lenses and observed snakes we found on the trail.

As we got closer, they slithered away. It’s not always easy to identify animals when they’re in the wild, so we took a few pictures to compare them to our field guide books back in the office. As we were watching the snakes slither across the rocks, we wondered, “How exactly does a snake move?”

Maybe they pushed off objects to move, but then we saw the snake moving without many objects around it and then wondered, “How would a snake move on a flat surface?”

With a little research, we discovered we were onto something: snakes DO use objects to push themselves. They actually have four different ways of moving!

Garter Snake in forest
Can you find the Garter Snake?

There’s the serpentine method (what we originally came up with), using objects to push themselves forward.

The concertina method, where — in tight spaces — the snake tightens its back muscles and inches along, kind of like an inchworm.

Sidewinding, where the snake throws its head forward, using momentum to move.

There’s also the rectilinear method, where the snake uses its scales to push itself forward.

Do your research!

Along the trail, we also noticed tons of little red berries and strange shiny blue berries everywhere.

Usually when you see wild berries, you automatically think they are poisonous, and so did we!

We decided to follow our curiosity and dig a little deeper and identify what kind of berries they were.

The red berries were Bunchberries, a favourite berry among many hungry birds, especially grouse!

The blue berries were Blue-bead Lily, and they are quite toxic. We noticed them growing in the same areas as Blueberries, so from one curious explorer to another, leave the berries for the wildlife!

Look around and see how many different colours you see in nature!

Sit spots

One of our goals going into the hike was to find a sit spot.

A sit spot is a place in nature that you can connect yourself to the natural world around you. They are unique to each person, depending on what needs they have and what place resonates with them.

staff sitting in bush
Cora enjoying her sit spot

Sometimes a sit spot could be out in the bush, beside a waterfall, or sometimes it could be as simple as a swing-set in your own backyard. The purpose of a sit spot is to slow things down, and just be distraction free.

We found a few sit spots along the trail, and got to sit and listen to the many sounds of nature (so many more than we notice walking and talking down the trail). We took some time to think about how we are connected to them and how we felt in those moments.

Do you have a sit spot?

Come along!

Join park staff for a Discovery Drop-in during the months of July and August!

Bring along your Discovery Activity Book (or pick one up at the Drop-in), and use the equipment and materials provided to explore the park, observe plants and animals, and discover the wonders of nature.

Kip the frog plushie with watercolours

Be sure to share your observations with park staff, take the Discovery Ranger Pledge, and receive your very own Discover Ranger Button!

For more information, keep an eye out for weekly calendar of events posted throughout the park.

We hope that all of you get the chance to find your own spots in nature, go on a discovery hike, and explore, observe and discover the world around you!