Brule Lake Sand Dunes
This is a story about my epic failure as an adventurer, but hopefully it is redeemed by prudent mothering. (fingers crossed)
I was driving west on the Yellowhead highway when a sign for Brule Lake Sand Dunes caught my eye and I turned off the highway to investigate. I had never heard about this area before and was curious what I would find.
Shortly after leaving the main highway I found an information sign which was very faded from the sun and weather. The map gave some information on something called the Brule Lake forest land use zone (BLFLUZ). The info sign talked about access to the area and conditions that visitors should be aware of.
Intrigued, I decided to follow the road to see what the sand dunes looked like. I wish that I could tell you that my trip was a success, but that is not the case. The road is what they loosely call “unimproved.” What I followed was a dirt path with very deep ruts and vegetation growing into the roadway.
Although my little SUV is sturdy, I only made it 1.6 km along the road before deciding that the ruts were too deep for my undercarriage. There was a pipeline access path cut through the trees which provided a safe place to turn around and I took advantage of it to head back to my starting point.
Call me a chicken if you like. I feel like one so the label probably applies.
In days past I would have left my car in the forest clearing and walked the rest of the way. The sand dunes were only 2.5 km or so from my turn-around point so they would have been easily accessible by foot. (Even more so by bike, which I didn’t have with me.)
I wasn’t quite ready to do that trek with the baby, however. Is this prudence or just laziness do you think?
The mom in me says that the sand dunes will still be there when little guy is old enough to bike in with me so I should wait. The adventurer in me says that I should have pushed through with my vehicle and taken my chances on what the road brought. Worst case scenario would have been a stuck vehicle, modest hike out to the main highway, expensive tow truck bill and a really good story to tell you.
What would you have done if you were there with your baby?
If you are planning a trip to western Alberta you can access this area from the Yellowhead (Highway 16). Brule Lakes Sand Dunes are located just east of the Jasper National Park east entrance gate.
For your information, the sign reads as follows:
“BLFLUZ is a critical wildlife area where motorized recreation is restricted. The objective is to maintain or increase elk populations and reduce conflicts between recreational users and elk by allowing motorised [sic] access on designated trails only. An off-highway vehicle recreation access corridor is provided through this zone allowing access from Highway 16 to the Brule Lake non-vegetated sand dunes area. The dunes can also be accessed through the northern route that does not go through the Forest Land Use Zone.”
“Notice – The trails are considered wilderness trails. The trails do not have trail markers and few if any signs. Trails receive little or no maintenance. Trail conditions are highly variable with various degrees of difficulty. Due to their location in the East Slopes the trails are subject to sudden and sometimes extreme weather conditions. You have the potential to encounter wildlife. As a trail user, be responsible and prepared for all conditions that you may encounter.”
Note that the province has changed the name of FLUZs to Public Land Use Zones (PLUZ).