Friday, October 31, 2014

To Medicine Hat and beyond

The landscape from Swift Current to Medicine Hat is an example of the transformation from dryland grain farming to ranch country. Two good indicators are the appearance of sagebrush among the grass and the small herds of sheep and cattle in the distance.

Scattered throughout the fields and ranges are collections of slow-dipping oil pumps and associated storage tanks. We also passed many small reed filled lakes and the occasional alkali slough, although the latter were typically so full of water that the telltale white rings around their shoreline were thin at best.

Approaching Medicine Hat we could see the storied Cypress Hills on the southern horizon. It was here that Sitting Bull sought refuge for his people as they fled from the US cavalry. It was in these hills that Fort Walsh was established to 'tame' the region on behalf of the British crown, and it was on these plains that thousands of buffalo roamed before being decimated for agriculture and sport.

Once past Medicine Hat the rolling hills turned flat and cultivated. The occasional pumping station marks the line of pipeline buried beneath the fields to carry the petroleum and natural gas for which the region is famous. The highway takes the form of a study in perspective as the road, fenceposts, and powerlines aim for the same point directly ahead.

Just after we passed the turnoff to Hussar (one of our NRE sites) we saw the first signs of irrigation - in the form of the long lines of pipes on wheels that create the huge circles that look like flying saucer landing sites from the air.


  1. Will you be passing close enough to Drumheller to post something about the Hoodoos? Would love to see them.

  2. Drumheller is north of the highway so we won't be visiting the area this time around. We went there when we traveled with Samantha so you can see her entry via and On our current trip we saw some Hoodoos 'under construction' in the hills around Canmore, but no more than that. I guess you'll just have to visit them yourself. The museum alone is worth the trip!