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There was certainly ample demand for an *EASY PACE* hike late in the season - there were 19 people on this hike. Despite the construction detours on the major southbound routes, all 19 arrived on time. It was cloudy with a smattering of rain earlier in the morning, but warm (the overnight low was a balmy 11 degrees). On our drive, we were encouraged by the sight of a "Chinook arch" in the western skies By the time we started off at 10 am the skies were clearing and in a short while we were hiking under the bluest skies we have seen in a long while -- a welcome reprieve from August's smoky skies that had confined many of us to our quarters. We were soon de- layering as the temperature soon climbed to the low 20s. We had considered splitting our group of 19 into two (several people offered to lead). But as there were several bear warning signs and few other people out there to inconvenience, we decided to stay as one group (albeit a bit stretched out) and reconvene at the trail junctions. We hiked the Fescue Trail to the Paradise trail to the West Side Lookout. We paused for a bit of a snack break, enjoying the views of the eastern slopes of the Rockies and the sunny clear skies. We packed up before we got too comfortable and headed back along the paradise train and the northern leg of the Aspen Trail (longer distance but a more gentle climb). Chris V co-led the hike -- Lucille did the web part and registration management and Chris took care of the leadership on the day. It was a great way to share the tasks of leading a hike -- I recommend it to all CWH hikers! While writing the post write-up, I went to the website (http://www.crossconservation.org/about-us) and discovered that they require online booking for groups of 8 or more -- certainly a rule our hiking group should follow. All in all it was a beautiful day to hike on this magnificent section of the foothills. We are grateful to the foresight and generosity of Ann & Sandy Cross who donated these 4800 acres (12 square kilometers) to the Province of Alberta to be preserved for future generations to enjoy. Visit the website (www.crossconservation.org) to read more of the fascinating history of this area.
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