This weekend's hike is changed from Saturday to Sunday, with optional camp-over Saturday night (weather permitting). Due to conditions in the park, the hike is also changed from Whirlpool-Cowan Lake to GORGE CREEK. (This hike was done by park personnel on July 1 and conditions were good).
Bert and Judy plan to camp at Whirlpool on Saturday night and hike up the Gorge Creek trail Sunday morning. Two options: join us to camp Saturday night and for the uphill and downhill hike, or meet us at the West trail head and hike down.
For those not familiar with the hike, info from the RMNP website follows. Don't be too put off by the rating of "difficult"-- While the hike is rated as difficult it can easily be hiked (up or down) by anyone who is able to walk the distance (6.4/12.8 km).
For more information, call or text Judy Bartel at 204-720-7892 (cell) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday evening.
July 7, 2013 Gorge Creek Hike
Despite an inauspicious weather forecast for Saturday evening, Di, Scotty, Bert, Judy, and newest WWC member Andree’ met at the Whirlpool campground early Saturday evening. It was a beautiful evening as we set up tents, tucked into hors d’oeuvres, and started cooking dinner. Gradually it started to cloud over, and a few sprinkles began. Then the thunder began to rumble, and the black clouds got more threatening, so we grabbed our dinners and hurried everything into the cook shelter. Soon the rain was pelting down, running off the roof in sheets. We finished our dinner by candlelight, and by the time darkness fell, the rain had stopped and we headed to our tents to check on the damages.
Fortunately, we’d picked a high spot for our tents. Unfortunately, our “plateau” had some hollows that we hadn’t noticed—one immediately in front of Bert and Judy’s tent, and the other slightly under Andree’s. Di had made a better choice, pitching on a slight slope that allowed the water to run off. Oh, and Bert and Judy hadn’t shut their front door!
It was still misting slightly when we got up in the morning, but by the time we’d finished breakfast in the cook shack, the clouds were getting lighter, and by the time we reached the trailhead, the sun was beginning to shine through the clouds. There was a brisk wind, which was enough to ease the mosquitoes in all but the deepest forest, and prevent the sun from being too hot. This is truly a “gorge”ous hike—a narrow trail that climbs up and down the Manitoba Escarpment, sometimes through tall grasses, other times through aspen, oak or birch and maple forest. Sometimes it skirts the edge of the deep gorge with views of shale cliffs or the distant prairie, and sometimes it takes you to the floor of the gorge, over or alongside trickling streams.
We had lunch at the picnic site at the West trail head, before heading back onto the trail for the return hike to the Birches picnic site at the East trail head.
Animal sightings: one mouse, one garter snake, a dozen homeless swallows (the poor things kept swooping in, circling, and trying to perch in the remnants of the nests that someone had demolished in the cook shack) three ants trying in a very disorganized fashion to drag home their kill, and 1.3 million hungry mosquitoes.