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Arriving in Saskatchewan – Big Muddy Valley
After leaving Medicine Hat in the afternoon, I crossed the border into Saskatchewan, 40 minutes away.
My destination: Big Muddy Valley.
My goal: to arrive before sunset at Castle Butte, a rock formation well known in the region.
The problem is that Castle Butte is about 450 km from Alberta, it’s already halfway across Saskatchewan. It takes about 4h30 to drive there without any stop … and without getting lost. Because even if it is a famous site in Saskatchewan, it is not the Tour Eiffel! You must know where you are going and the last few kilometres are on a dirt road in the middle of cow fields.
Leaving Alberta, the landscape slowly changes. I definitely left Rocky Mountains. But the vast plains are furrowed by valleys, giving a little entertainment, if not for the eye, at least for driving. 😉
Castle Butte is located in the territory of Big Beaver Village, but it is very small and Castle Butte is 25 km away from the centre. Going through the village, off the main road, is ultimately a detour, and there is no indication to reach Castle Butte using the small roads. Arriving from the North or South, the easiest way is to take the Road 34 (SK-34-N) and turn —left coming from the south, right otherwise— on the dirt road leading to the site.
Despite this detour, I reached my goal: I arrived about 1 hour before sunset. It left me enough time to take some pictures of the area and then to climb on top to watch the sun going down on the horizon.
After nightfall, I went in search of a place with a proper cellular coverage to make a call and possibly to sleep. I finally stopped on the outskirt of Big Muddy Valley, on top of a hill at the entrance of a field. I ate quickly and then spent some time on the phone. Meanwhile, a violent storm started off. It was far away enough for me not to be drenched, but close enough to observe the lightning.
What was interesting is that between me and the storm there were no clouds, just a great starry-black sky. This is the first time I had the time and equipment to take photos of a storm, so I took out my tripod and started practising.
These are my two best shots: