An enclosure, placed in a field for no apparent reason, captures the attention.
Today, a long-standing mystery will be solved. I have stood at the Sibbald Viewpoint many times, over many years. It is always a beautiful view to the flat grasslands below the ridge, particularly when colors are enhanced by low, morning sun.
A subsequent pass in June 2019 finds the fenced area has been removed.
There are four plaques at the Sibbald Viewpoint which provide some historical background when the grasslands below were a Native buffalo hunting ground.
Archeological digs nearby have uncovered evidence of Indian camps and artifacts which existed here more than 10,000 years ago. The fourth plaque provides a bit of recent history about the formation of Kananaskis Country in 1978.
There is a small fenced-in area near the center of the grassland. Why? Is it a fenced archaeological site to protect ancient artifacts? Is it a corral? Is it a paddock?
Is it visible in the following low resolution photo?
I am determined to walk into the grassland area on completion of the hike on the Sibbald Flat Trail. Later in the day, I drive from Sibbald Lake, west on the Sibbald Creek Trail to the Powderface Trail junction and turn south for a short distance to park at a pullout near the bridge on the edge of the flat grassland.
After a glorious thirty minute saunter in the sun on pasture land, dodging cow poop, I arrive at the enclosure which is substantially larger than expected. It is not an archaeological site. It is not a paddock or a corral.
The mystery is solved!
The enclosure is a Permanent Rangeland Reference Area - Experimental Site - something, something - and around enclosure.
Apparently the Alberta Government hires people to watch grass grow and it needs to be cow poop free. No offence intended. Well, that was anticlimactic, bordering on disappointing.
A telephoto from the grassland enclosure to Sibbald Viewpoint
However, I notice, off to the left in the far distance, there is an isolated stand of trees in the grassland area. This will need to be investigated.
Characteristically, trees growing in the middle of a field, for no apparent reason, indicate the presence of a former dwelling.
No visible evidence on the ground of early habitation
The adjacent stand of trees on Sibbald Flat
Carefully, the ground is scoured throughout the trees for evidence of old building material but nothing is found. There are a lot of boulders scattered throughout the trees which could be remnants of old foundations.
Adjacent to the first group of trees is another smaller isolated stand of deciduous trees. An out building?
Again, I examine the site thoroughly but find no definitive evidence of a former homestead. I will make the relatively straight, cow paddy shuffle, kilometer long hike back to the car.
Straight line cow paddy shuffle back to the car on Sibbald Flat
Parked beside the Powderface Trail with two-humper Deer Ridge in the background
On the return drive to Calgary, from the Powderface Trail to east on Sibbald Creek Trail, there is one final stop at Sibbald Viewpoint for photos in afternoon sun.
Last stop at Sibbald Viewpoint pullout on road side.
A kilometer further east, I turn into a road to the closed gate and make a short walk from the car through snow to the Sibbald Forestry Exhibit trailhead. It is a kilometer long hike along the top of the ridge to the Sibbald Viewpoint which I have just left.
Near the beginning of this trail, I am able to take a photograph of Sibbald Flat from the north end. It is a different perspective and a good reminder of today's excellent Sibbald Flat ramble of discovery on a beautiful, sunny, spring day.
Sibbald Forestry Exhibit Trail access to Sibbald Viewpoint