Abruptly, grain fields and rangeland yield to forested terra firma. From the surrounding plains the land rises to the highest point in mainland Canada between the Rocky Mountains and Labrador. Cypress Hills is a unique geographical region and an oasis in the midst of the prairie. It’s also an interprovincial park on the Saskatchewan/Alberta border.
Road signs that read “Impassable When Wet” gave us no concern as the land was bone dry with no rain in the forecast. The twists and turns up a steep climb to the rustic campground in the West Block were a surprise. Mid-week late in the season, plenty of grassy sites alongside Battle Creek were available.
After a restful night we continued westward dodging cow dung and the free-roaming cattle around every bend in the road.
On a grassy plateau is “The Survival Tree” a lone lodgepole pine that has been growing for more than 150 years.
The plaque reads: “Living things do their best to stay alive. This lodgepole pine has bent with the wind, been frozen under heavy snows and has been parched in the summer drought. It has also endured mauling by cattle. In 1900, it was even cut down! But today it is still growing, its three branches reaching upward toward light and life.”
It’s a fitting message in this time of pandemic. The sight of Cypress Hills dressed in fall colors soothes the soul.