In true convoy fashion we headed east towards Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. This park straddles Alberta and Saskatchewan and features a dark sky preserve. Our intention was to try our hand at some night photography and if it went well perhaps even capture the Milky Way.
The drive to the Alberta side of the park was uneventful but the rain and steady cloud cover loomed overhead and which we feared would limit our view of the night sky. Arriving at the park entrance we quickly realized that we were in the wrong place. Turns out that there are two separate parcels of land and entrances making up the park. The Dark Sky Preserve is located squarely in Saskatchewan. Disappointed by the lack of knowledge and questionable directions we received from the Alberta park staff (they seemed to know even less than we did about the park) we headed east again following the directions given.
So here it gets interesting. We decided that heading back to the TransCanada seemed a little unnecessary so we started down a gravel road that by all accounts and mapping should have taken us quickly to the park entrance. It didn’t take long for the nature to “pile on” as we watched a pronghorn deer bound through the grass along side the road. After about 20 minutes, the gravel road turned into a soupy, muddy mess. The sloppy road conditions seemed to go on forever and even in 4-wheel drive we were crawling/sliding along. A warning text was sent to the Nixon’s in the hopes that we were far enough ahead that they could head turn off to the highway before they got bogged down in the mire as well. They managed to avoid a big section of the mud bog but not before enjoying a few tense kilometers and covering the jeep and trailer in mud.
We finally arrived at Cypress Hills park and took in the beauty of the landscape as dark clouds rolled through, interrupted periodically by moments of sunshine. We found a suitable campsite and proceeded to set up the tent and start a fire. Extensive rains had soaked a lot of the firewood but we did manage to have a fire going well by the time Melanie and Steve joined us. We enjoyed dinner, drinks and a fire (that sometimes need encouragement with a battery air pump) before darkness finally fell. Would you believe that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky!! We gathered our drinks, lawn chairs and headed to an area we scoped our early to take some pictures of the night sky.
We couldn’t have asked for better conditions! Words can’t describe what the sky looked like but the pictures surely do.