For the grades 7, 8 and 9 students from Wadena Composite School, it was a thrilling end to the school year when, during the final three class days, 55 students, staff and parents travelled to Cypress Hills Provincial Park and Grasslands National Park.
Students had participated in extensive organizing, planning their own meals and tenting arrangements as well as learning about the places they were to visit and the creatures that call those places home; namely, mountain lions and prairie rattlesnakes.
After a long day on the road to Cypress Hills, the campground was set up with 15 tents and then the group went on the Highland Interpretative Trail before spending a couple hours relaxing by a fire.
Day Two centred around Fort Walsh National Historic Site. The road to Fort Walsh is one of the most scenic drives in the province and many students found the hairpin corners in a chartered bus a lot of fun. They had studied the history of Fort Walsh and, upon seeing the fort and surrounding area, they all brought out their cameras.
After lunch alongside Battle Creek behind the fort, students played games and toured the buildings inside the fort as well as the Métis buildings outside it. The tours spanned three hours and featured many discussions about the lives of the North West Mounted Police and the First Nations people of that area during the 1870s and 1880s.
The tour finished with an exhilarating firing of a canon from inside the fort. Some students then spent time fishing or visiting while others went hiking.
Hiking in Cypress is an adventure on its own, with the high population of mountain lions in the park. Students were taught mountain lion safety in school and were always cautious while in the park.
After spending eight hours in the West Block of Cypress, it was back to the campsite for supper made over the fire, and some campfire fun.
The final day began with an early morning to pack up and head across southwestern Saskatchewan to Grasslands National Park. Upon arrival, the group was met by Parks Canada interpreters who led the way on the 70-Mile Butte hike, a 5km loop through wild terrain featuring extreme elevation changes. Throughout the hike, students were taught about wildflowers, tipi rings, rattlesnakes and the variety of endangered species that call Grasslands home.
With the Grasslands portion complete, the trip came to an end. It was a great way to finish the year and to learn about our province and our country.
Submitted by Darin Faubert