Porcupine sunshine

Or sunshine porcupine! Doesn’t make much immediate sense, but I like the rhyme.

DSCF2303Buoyed by our prairie explorations last week, this week we took another little trip, out to the Porcupine Hills. A great name – supposedly the trees atop the hills are said to resemble a line along the spine of a porcupine. OK, no more rhymes. (You’d never be able to guess what some of our recent language work in school has been about…)

Roll the windows down

The weather was warm, approaching midsummer temperatures, and that was a pleasant, if unexpected, April surprise. Driving range roads with windows rolled down, inhaling lungfuls of clean air, and encountering barely a handful of fellow travellers was delightful.


So we didn’t have much human company, but the foothills were teeming with wildlife and domesticated animals. Not a porcupine in sight, but numerous red tailed hawks, ducks, geese, horses, cattle, butterflies, bugs, and a beaver or two.

I was too quick…

The photographs taken are a testament to my camera skills, particularly when capturing fast-moving creatures. Yup, no photos of hawks, the geese were out of range, horses almost so, and I’d swear the beavers were laughing – I could see their bubble trails of mirth. Undeterred, I was resolute when photographing cows, and managed to get one or two in the frame, mostly by assuring them I’m vegetarian. Almost worked…

Almost in range, on the range
Yes, you may take my picture

As we toured the backcountry roads of the Porcupine, we let our imaginations wander. Imagine living out here! Ranching is hard work, and brutally so in winter, but the landscape rewards might help. The long views across to the Rockies are astonishing, and too big for me to capture adequately, but the fun was in seeing and trying to frame them. At least they kept still.

Long views

The Porcupine Hills stretch for mile after mile, a foothills delight, where each turn in the road, each cresting of a rise, reveals beautiful country. Creeks wind through the landscape, lined with hardy trees and shrubs, and cattle grazing close by. It is not wild land, in fact the evidence of human corralling is all about, from the orderly ranch houses and outbuildings, to the snaking roads lined with barbed wire fencing. As with the prairie agriculture, this foothill ranching speaks to determination and toughness, and a way of life I can only admire.

A small ruin, but orderly

If you ever have the chance to drive along Highway 22 in southern Alberta, don’t blast south to the border, and don’t shoot north just to get to Calgary ASAP. Instead, get off the Cowboy Trail (a lovely road in itself, but too fast), take a turn into the Porcupine Hills, follow the eastbound cloud shadows racing up the dusty tracks, and stop anywhere along the top. Turn off the engine, get out of the car, slowly spin, spin, spin, and stretch, stretch, stretch. Breathe in, breathe out. Then set your ass down in the grass. Lay back, look up, smile, and stay awhile. You’ll be glad you did!

In the grass

Thanks for reading, apologies for the rhymes, and please feel free to share a story or leave a comment. (It doesn’t have to rhyme…) Have a great weekend!DSCF2267

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I am a would be outdoorsman - that is if I had more time, skills and knowledge. When I can, I love being outdoors, just camping, hiking, snowboarding, xc skiing, snowshoeing, paddling a canoe or trying something new. What I lack in ability, I make up for in enthusiasm and having a go. I'd never really survive for long out there in the wild, but I enjoy pretending I could if I had to...

23 thoughts on “Porcupine sunshine”

  1. Loved this post. I would have totally enjoyed this trip you took. My husband and I are back road, nature, jeep people who love just such a trip as the one you described here. So glad to see the photos of the beaver, horses, cattle – you did a great job capturing these creatures. I spend my time trying to capture a lot of things that move, just to see how good I can be. Ha Go ahead and rhyme, I do that all the time myself. Fantastic post my friend.


  2. Thanks for taking us along on your journey. Looks like my kind of road trip, lots of animals, ruins, gorgeous mountain views and peaceful stops.


      1. It does sound wonderful! Heavy sigh. I have a busy week leading up to our daughter’s 18th birthday next week. Hope you have a great one yourself. 🙂


  3. I would love to live somewhere with this scenery. (Ok I see the Rockies from my office but that does not count.) The more remote the better.


  4. I’ve enjoyed seeing a different view of Canada during your prairie explorations. Also, I am very glad to hear the animals are laughing at others since over the last couple months there has been a hawk, several cardinals and a few ducks laughing at me on a regular basis. Great post and have a good weekend!


    1. Oh yes, the animals know how to beat the shutter when I’m around, but it’s fun to try. I think you have a lot more success! Happy to show you a different view of western Canada, and very happy to read you’ve enjoyed these posts.
      I hope you have a wonderful week!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow I was surprised to see these pics, parts of Alberta without snow at this time of year?! did it just clear up or has it been that way for a while? Cool place!


    1. Snow has been in short supply since January. Unusually warm temperatures and low precipitation has given us an early spring in the foothills.
      Thanks, and have a great week!


  6. That beaver knew when I was about to take a photograph – they move fast, and so I have quite a few photos of ripples and bubbles!
    Thanks for the rhyme comment(!) and have a wonderful week!


    1. I can be hard to track down when losing myself in the Porcupines – that’s not so true, simply listen for the laughter! Glad you found this and enjoyed the Alberta spirits.


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