41 Minutes from Wayne (Wayne where, who? Gretzky, of course!)
Our put-in for this excursion was the cul-de-sac at the end of Range Road 204 on the north side of the lake. This point is a 41-minute drive from the Wayne Gretzky statue in Edmonton, from which I measure all of my distances.
Islands > Jones > Hastings Lake
Not to spoil the ending but, despite lots of snowmobile traffic and some ice fishing, the three Natural Areas showed very few signs of human activity. This was not an extensive survey by any stretch but, based on this sample, definitely good news.
HASTING LAKE ISLANDS. We left our vehicles on 204 and walked across the lake towards Edgar T. Jones NA. The south-easterly trek took us past some of the islands which make up Hastings Lake Islands NA. There is another group on the west side of the lake which we unfortunately did not get a chance to visit. The three or so islands we did survey showed considerable ungulate, coyote, mice and other faunal traffic but almost no human ingress.
EDGAR T. JONES is on the south-east corner of the lake. A well-used snowmobile track indicates that there is some usage. Fortunately nearly all of the tracks skirted this NA. Nearly, but not quite. There was evidence of a single snowmobile coming in from the west and then turning around in the small lake in the northwest section of the NA. The impact was minimal.
HASTINGS LAKE is on the west side of 204. Returning to our vehicles for lunch, we surveyed another island en route with similar conclusions – very little human activity. After hot tea and a sandwich, we explored Hastings Lake NA. While the Islands and E.T. Jones have Order-in-Council status, this NA only has a Protective Notation .
There is a short track that runs from 204 toward the lake. Likely this is from the days when this was a bush-party destination. Following the track from the southernmost gate, it met up with a well-defined snowmobile track along the riparian zone. Although we looked for a route, there was no obvious track north from the lake into the NA.
On the drive out, we noticed two tracks from 204 into the NA. One was about half way between the lake and the northern boundary. The second appeared to parallel the fence line with the landowner to the north.
A bright, sunny, winter day made this an excellent outing. Winter is a good time to explore these areas: bogs are frozen and mosquitoes are waiting for spring. Despite the recent cold temperatures, on crossing the lake, we came across areas where the ice was slushy. There was evidence of ice-fishing but also various tracks suggesting the ice was more than thick enough to support our weight.
Perhaps there is a spring which is flooding these sections. A mystery and a good reason to exercise caution whenever going onto a frozen surface! Future excursions will include more exploration of all three NAs. Although there are few hiking trails, all three make for good ‘poking around’ and photography. In summary, the protected areas surrounding Hastings Lake seem to be doing well and were well worth a winter exploration.
References and Notes
- For more on this, see our discussion and definitions of Protected Areas.