But I really wanted to go have a look the Red Deer River valley out to the west of Sundre.
Southern Alberta is really blessed to have truly distinct river valleys, all with similarities but each with their own unique characteristics. The Waterton River down south drains from big, deep lakes, the Crowsnest runs short and fast through a slash in the mountains, the Oldman gathers strength in the high elevations and bursts out onto the grasslands through a fortuitous crack in the limestone wall that juts up abruptly from the prairie foothills.
And then there’s the Bow, a gorgeous, gleaming stream that runs through a broad, well-peopled valley and out onto the plains. It is the most altered of our watersheds but somehow, almost miraculously, it still maintains most of its wildness.
And then there’s the Red Deer River, maybe the wildest - along with the Castle - of all of southern Alberta’s rivers. That’s what I was headed out to see.
Leaving the frost behind, I cut through Sundre and idled west across the broad valley that stretches off toward the mountains and then cut south and west on Coal Camp Road to follow the river.