WESTMAN WILDERNESS CLUB
4- Night Hike- Riding Mountain National Park
West Deep Lake – Bison Enclosure
Saturday, July 2 to Wednesday, July 6
Despite the foreboding weather forecast, Rick, Sue, Di, & Pascal set out Saturday July 2 for a 4-Night Hike from West Deep Lake to the Bison Enclosure at Riding Mountain National Park.
We left Di’s vehicle at the Bison Enclosure; then drove over to West Deep Lake in Rick & Sue’s vehicle to start our hike.
Day 1- Saturday, July 2 (West Deep Lake - Tilson Lake) 8 K
We departed on a very hot Saturday afternoon hiking from West Deep Lake to Tilson Lake. We started out with a group of four, however we quickly grew in number when we met up with Moss Quitos & Woody Ticks, who liked us so much they stayed with us for the whole hike! There were a few tricky crossings which gave Sue an opportunity to show off her “land on my back in a puddle” skills. She also landed in a hole between tree roots, and could only get out with the help of Rick & Pascal. We arrived at Tilson Lake in time for supper; we met up with a number of other campers from Morris & Estevan, including some who had mutual friends with Pascal.
Day 2- Sunday, July 2 (Tilson Lake - Gun Creek) 19.4 K
We waited out a thunderstorm Sunday morning before departing for Gun Creek; then headed out in mild rain. Rick had (apparently) been taking lessons from Sue on how to cross a stream, so halfway through the day showed off his newly learned skills. When we reached our destination, we learned that we had to cross the very high Gun Creek to reach our campsite. There were only 2 easy ways to cross the creek… either remove boots & socks to wade through, or walk through the creek with boots on. Pascal was the only person who had boots worth saving; Di, Rick & Sue’s were so wet that they just waded through the creek.
Robert was a welcome sight on the other side of the creek with his horses, “GPS” & “Red Cloud”. He came through with the promised “steaks for four” for Pascal, Rick, Sue & himself; Rick & Sue surprised Di with a Bean Burger (preserved on an ice pack) so that she could enjoy the BBQ too.
Funny story… Rick accidently mentioned the ice pack the day before & was quickly “shh’d” by Sue, but not before Di had heard. Kudos to Di… she didn’t say a word, but we knew she thought we were NUTS! Who brings an ICE PACK on a 5-day hike? Oh the things we do for our friend Di! J
Day 3- Monday, July 3 (Gun Creek – Gun Lake) 14.9 K
Sue got a “day off” from hiking on Monday and rode “Red Cloud” to Gun Lake. The plan was to trade off so that everyone got a chance to ride, but there were no picnic tables between Gun Creek & Gun Lake to help us dismount & remount with our packs. Robert & Sue arrived at the Gun Lake ½ hour before the hikers; Sue emptied her pack and started hiking back to help out with Rick’s load, meeting the others with 2 K left to go.
Gun Lake had a lot of floating algae at the edges, making water collection less than desirable. Rick went to the middle of the lake & secured some nice clear water for us.
We noticed a strong smell of fish around the campsite whenever there was a gust of wind… enough to convince Di & Pascal to move their tent from where the odour was particularly bad. The smell persisted throughout the evening, so we went looking for the source of the offending odour. We had already noticed that the seat of a picnic table had been used for scaling fish, but that wasn’t the source of the smell.
Pascal eventually found where the smell was coming from. Some previous campers had actually thrown the inedible parts of the fish they caught into the trees, rather than burning them!!!! He found at least 4 carcasses that Di was only too happy to burn!
Day 4- Tuesday, July 4 (Gun Lake - Whitewater Lake) 19.3 k
Robert & Rick rode GPS & Red Cloud for the first 2 k of Tuesday’s hike. They met 2 bears on the route up to Central Trail, who quickly retreated into the bushes so Di, Pascal & Sue missed seeing them. Robert & his horses left us at the junction of Central Trail to head home and tend to his cattle; we then proceeded on our hike.
We stopped for lunch mid-route and attracted many beautiful butterflies to our packs & clothing. We continued another 2 k toward Whitewater Lake, where Rick decided it was time for a rest. At this point Sue realized that she had left her waist pouch open, & had lost her phone on the trail. She blew her whistle to alert Di & Pascal that she & Rick would be delayed; Pascal ran back to see what was up & offered to walk back a couple of kilometres with Sue to help find the missing phone. Thankfully, the phone was found, and we hiked the rest of the way to Whitewater Lake without incident.
We met a delightful young man at Whitewater by the name of Justin, who had all kinds of fun new camping tools that he showed us. He works in a cycle shop in Wpg, and spends all his disposable income on camping gadgets.
Day 5- Wednesday, July 5 (Whitewater Lake - Bison Enclosure) 10 k
We left Whitewater Lake at 9 am & hiked to the Bison Enclosure, seeing a couple of fishers on route. We arrived at the Bison Enclosure & Di’s vehicle at about 11:30 a.m.; then as we were leaving saw a number of bison with their young.
We drove to Deep Lake to pick up Rick & Sue’s vehicle, then down to Rossburn & visited “Gone Scrappin’ in Bloom”, where we indulged ourselves with everything we had been dreaming about for the past 5 days… Di got her fresh ground coffee & a cookie, Pascal some fresh lemonade, Rick got a milkshake & Sue some fresh veggies.
Then it was home for showers & full body checks for ticks. This was not done as a group.