Back Country Day Ski March 5th
Just a little note to thank Bert and Judy who braved the elements in order to join me on an outdoor day ski on an non-maintained, backcountry ski trail on Sunday March 5th. Many thanks to Burt who led most of the way in, especially hard as the last 1/3 of the trail had not been packed since the heavy snows of last week. He had to plough through 1 - 1 1/4 feet of snow the last part to the lake. Tons of animal tracks i.e. wolf, lynx, coyote, deer moose, elk, rodents of all kinds. Tons of snow covered spruce trees, great photo ops, if the skies would have cleared, however, it was a dull, grey day.
Canoe Trip - Little Saskatchewan River April 11th
Well, the first canoe was a great success . With four canoes, Ken Storie/Dave August, Verne/Chris Noto, Aaron/Jordan and Wayne/Eldon. The second highlight of the evening was Aaron and Jordan dumping just past the old dam site. There were some pretty big waves and I think the water might have been just a tad chilly. The first highlight was a crocus in full bloom. Next week the crocus field should be spectacular.
Canoe Trip - Little Saskatchewan River April 18
Aaron, Donna, Verne, Wayne, Chelsey, Laurence, Brenda, Trudy, Chad and I went out on the little Saskatchewan.. It was good to be on the river again. Trudy, Chad and I went for a little swim. More of a sink instead of an upset. The weather was good until half way through when the thunder and lightening started. The rain came right near the end.
Day Hike Whirlpool to Cowan Lake to Grey Owl Trail - April 22
What a great way to celebrate Earth Day - do a spring day hike! The weather was gorgeous with sunny skies, a light breeze, and NO BUGS.
Alf, Janis, Ian, Grace, Verne, Millie, Margaret, Bert, Judy, and Gail met Sherrie at the Spot Restaurant in Onanole for breakfast. We journeyed off to Whirlpool Lake after leaving several vehicles in the Grey Owl Trail parking lot. The loop trail was basically dry with some minor wet spots. We saw many woodpeckers and sapsuckers along the way and were taught their distinctive calls by Millie and Margaret.
Just over two hours later (about one hour of actual riding time) we had covered the 10 km to the far side of the lake, we abandoned our bicycles and went for a hike. The views over this lake are picture postcard pretty. The lake has a few small wooded islands and it has areas suitable for a wilderness campout. We were careful to remember to forget to take a group photo at the lake. That means we have to go back another time for the photo shoot. Was it destiny or was it always part of the plan?
The ride out was easier than the ride in, much more downhill than uphill. This trail was an easy ride for the three of us. While there were a few wet spots, they were all rideable without getting wet feet, provided you chose a low gear, didn’t get distracted or didn’t ride too close behind someone who did. In the end, we all got at least one foot wet.
As we exited the trailhead, we encountered Robert Shwaluk and his horses, about to go into the woods for a late afternoon ride.
The ride ended too soon, so we decided to head for the trail around the south end of Clear Lake. At lunch in Wasagaming , we noted that there had been no “incidences” other than wet feet on this ride. We discussed past bruises, Mike’s major head plant on a solo wilderness ride and Fred’s crash after breaking his seat post at speed. Bert noted that his motorcycling buddies claim that if you never crash, you are not riding to your full ability, and the only way to keep riding skills sharp is to always ride at the limit of your ability. The only way you know you are riding to your ability is to “go over the edge” once in a while. So crashing is good.
Apparently we were all enthused by that bit of wisdom, because on the short ride along the south shore of the big lake and the ridge between the big lake and the south basin, we all kissed the earth. Fred and Mike go close to each other, touched then fell together (don’t worry Jackie, it wasn’t romantic….. or kinky) on a gravel road. Amazingly the crash damaged neither machine nor man. Bert fell three times, once into the lake (but landed on his feet), once on hitting a stump when riding faster than he could see and once just for good measure.
The ride along the south shore has sections that are technically very challenging to ride, but you can easily walk your bike through them. There are also areas on the berm between the south basin and the big lake that cannot be ridden and are even somewhat challenging to walk unless you decide to walk in the lake. As far as we got (i.e., just past the first church camp) , it was a very pretty and pleasant ride and hike.
At 6:00 pm, having proved (at least in his own mind) that he had been riding harder than Mike and Fred (as witnessed by the number of times he fell), Bert thought he had sharpened his riding skills enough for one day and headed back to Brandon. Mike and Fred, apparently feeling their riding skills still needed more honing, headed off toward the Central Trail and more riding.
Thank you Mike Rossier for planning and leading this wonderful backcountry bicycle adventure and sharing your knowledge of Riding Mountain with us. And thanks to both Mike and Fred for picking me up, dusting me off and putting me back on my bike for the next crash!
Day Hike April 29
An overcast sky, but calm cool air was enjoyed by Janis, Sherri, Sally, Di and Grace while hiking 17 kms on the Epinette trail on Saturday.The trail was mostly dry, but we came across a few wet spots, and in fact had to backtrack a short distance along the Epinette creek bed, since a bridge had become displaced this spring. 'We navigated up the valley on another trail, and found our way to cabin # 3 shortly thereafter. Along the trail, we observed many crocuses in full bloom, as well as many yellow cinquefoil and marsh-marigolds. Some tiny cacti were spotted at the trail head and a clump of unrecognized crocus-like buds, crimson in color, not yet in bloom.
The trickle of the Epinette creek, towering evergreen and tall poplars leafing out added to the beauty of this trail. Other than a couple of scampering red squirrels, the wildlife kept hidden, but sounds of Canada geese, wood grouse, and songbirds kept us in tune with the nature surrounding us.
Bike Ride around the City May 6
Fantastic weather, fine friends and outstanding biking made for an excellent ride around the Wheat City. Our 'Bikers': Maureen, Brent, Bill, Michelle, Darryl, Betty Ann, Carol, Katy, Shannon, Arthur, Shirley. The odometers showed a total of 18 miles (28.97km) by the time we made it back up the hill to Maureen and Brent's Eagle's Nest. Apres-bike gave a superb view, tasty refreshments and good company. (Grace made a welcome cameo appearance). Pizza was late in coming but all the more appreciated! Thanks Brent and Maureen for the 'Beautiful Ride '- (which is also a great song by Brandon vocalist Jillian Horton!).
Whirlpool to Cowan Lake. May 6/7
After breakfast with Alf and Janis in Onanole - Verne, Di and Roger (W) set off for Whirlpool Lake. There were a few spits of rain in the air to see us on our way - but the 'Three Muskateers' continued their 4.5 km hike to Cowan Lake. Having set up camp - we explored some of the bush, and the most enormous beaver dam! We spent a relaxing evening by the fire - just listening to birds and enjoying the tranquility of the bush. We could have done with some 'birding' experts - as some of them could just not be identified! The following morning - after a leisurely breakfast - we hiked back to Cowan Lake. The Ruffed Grouse were out in force - and one even posed for us on a log! We then couldn't resist another hike and bushwacked a part of the way around Cowan Lake. The views of the lake were beautiful - which I guess wouldn't have been experienced by many, as we were just following game trails (judging by all the remains we saw). After a bite to eat we left, just as the rain began. What timing! Thanks Roger for a wonderful weekend, and I'll be looking forward to the next one.
North Shore Trail Hike May 13
It was a dark and stormy day as I headed out to RMNP to meet with Grace and Alf and Janice. As my windshield wipers sped across my soaked window I had to wonder why I was out of bed. By the time we had finished a good breakfast at 7 Days Deli the downpour was only a gentle trickle.
The trail was in good shape and we inhaled the sights and sounds and smells of spring, as the loons called from the misty lake and spring flowers scattered the trail.
As we passed the North Shore cottagers putting their dock in the water, I knew it was so good to have shared in the peace and tranquility of the lake in its natural state before it willfully transformed into the busy summer haven of cottagers and tourists. Thank you, Janis!
Overnight Canoe trip May 27-28
Well another section of the Little Saskatchewan River has been conquered by a group of eight voyagers, Eldon, Arthur, Vern & Norma, Donna & Aaron, and Jeff & Jess from Minnedosa. We met Jess and Jeff in Minnedosa, shopped and were on our way. We followed Eldon into nowhere, somewhere north of Basswood, unloaded our gear, reloaded our gear, some of us had more than others, and away we went. The river valley was flat and the river calm, for hours. We passed an old farm site where the barn had fallen in and we were sure it was abandoned but as we canoed closer, one hour later, we realized there was smoke coming from the chimney.
As we canoed further Jeff and Jess filled us in, one canoe at a time, on their Australian heritage, why they came to Canada, and what they do now. Along the way we also passed by several Canada geese families. The goslings would dive and some popped up right beside our canoes only to dive quickly once again. We also saw great blue heron, blue wing teal ducks, and many others. We stopped for a shore lunch, tried to identify some plant life, and rested a little.
Once back on the river the scenery began to change and the river narrowed. The banks were higher, and muddier, and we could see the bare rolling hills. There was more wooded shoreline and the river began to drop in elevation, - whoohoo, whitewater! Just when we thought Jeff and Jess had mastered their whitewater skills they surprised us by going through one set of rapids, sideways. For a moment we thought we were stopping early for the night but they rode the rapids like pros except for the look on their faces!
We passed a buffalo on the side of the river bank, unfortunately it was dead and smelled real bad. Stopping for a closer look was quickly voted against! We decided to start looking for a campsite but we knew we had to cross under #10 hwy first to be close to the halfway mark. Once under the bridge we passed a not so bad spot but decided that it would make a long day tomorrow so we pushed forward. The scenery was quite like jungle cruises, lots of treed area. We stopped and looked at a couple of other sites, mud, mud, and more mud, and finally, at 7:00p.m., we stopped. Camp was quickly set up, suppers cooked, visiting done and cake and treats shared. The weather started to turn into rain so we went to bed; really I think we were just all very tired. We dozed as thunder and lightning struck. All Night Long! The lightning flashed like a disco strobe light in our tents. Nice if you’re at a disco! Right Jeff?
By morning the storm had passed. The second day the scenery was nice, though we had to put on our rain coats a couple of times, and Eldon heard rapids ahead. The rest of us thought we were going to go over a waterfall the sound was so loud. It wasn’t until we saw lightning and counted the seconds, that Eldon realized there were NO RAPIDS! We missed that storm too. We sang Arthur's song, and I think Arthur finally let Eldon steer the canoe. As Jeff went home to exchange his broken truck for another, and I think he had a shower too, the rest of us sat in the picnic hut and ate our lunch while it thundered and hailed for a few minutes. When the drivers left to retrieve the vehicles from the start the rest of us washed and cleaned the canoes.
Jeff and Jess must have enjoyed their trip for they were soon to join as members when we returned. And if you want to know their stories you’ll have to join them on their next WWC outing and ask them yourselves, one at a time preferably (ha, ha). Thanks, Eldon, for another new adventure!
Kinis Creek Overnight Bike Trip May 20-21
This trip was on May 20-21 & there was some confusion as to who was going to do the write up and since no one else offered I agreed to send it in. The trailhead is at the bison enclosure at the North end of Lake Audy in Riding Mountain and the trip was 8km down the Strathclair trail.
We were to meet at the Southgate Hotel in Onanole for breakfast at 8:30 AM but Verne and Norma didn't make it for the breakfast. They left home at 7:30 with enough time to get there but when they got about 2/3 of the way to Onanole they realized that they had left their bikes at home. Back to Brandon and then to the trailhead.
There were 11 members who did the trip and camped overnight at Kinis creek, a very pleasant scenic spot overlooking Kinis creek. Brent and Maureen made the trip in with us but went back the same day. The others on the trip were Judy and Bert, Grace, Mike Rossier, Mike Klassen, Eldon, Di and her friend Angie who was visiting from England, Shannon Kent, and Verne and Norma.
After setting up camp we went on an 8km hike along the creek and enjoyed the scenery, wildflowers and the great variety of birds and, of course, the wood ticks. In the evening some of the diehards went on a 11km bike ride along the Strathclair trail. The weather was cool but good for cycling and that night it dropped to -4 and some people got a might chilly. Lots of good food and fellowship and cowboy coffee cooked on an open fire.
On Sun. Mike R, Verne, Bert and Judy did a hike on the West side of Lake Audy and explored some of the interesting marsh areas and watched some elk for a while.
A good weekend with a great group of people.
Ministic Lake Bicycle Ride June 3
Tour guide Mike Rossier said several people had expressed an interest in this event but it was apparently a day with too many other things to do. In the end we were three, Mike, Fred Good and Bert Phillips. As usual, the event began in a restaurant (the Seven Days in Onanole). Mike Klassen and son Timber and Alf and Janis dropped by to wish us well. Then we loaded our bikes into Mike R’s truck and arrived at the trailhead about noon.
The weatherman appeared to be offering oppressive heat and the threat of a rainstorm. However, the woods were much cooler than the Seven Days parking lot in Onanole and a gentle breeze blew some butterflies along the trail at our speed so we had lots of close-up views as they flew with us. It was kind of like the Imax movie flying with the geese, except this was live and butterflies don’t those make gawdawful honking noises.
It was wonderful to stand on the pier at Lake Kiniseo - so peaceful and so warm on an April afternoon. A moose rack, a deer kill, choruses of frogs, and the musty smells of spring awakening in the forest were some of the highlights of the trip for me. My mementoes, along with Grace’s, were some blistered heels to take home. They will be healed for the many more hikes scheduled for the upcoming season. See you then.
Souris Valley Day Hike June 17
Di and Shannon Kent led an 11km hike in the Souris River valley near Margaret on Sat. June 17th. Members participating were Di, Shannon, Verne, Linda Winter, Grace, Marg Nestor, Brad, and Patsy.
It was a beautiful warm day with enough breeze to keep the mosquitoes away but the wood ticks were out in swarms. Everyone was picking them off for the whole trip. Marg stopped her count at 137.
This was one of the nicest hikes I have been on. It is a most scenic area with a number of views of the river and valley with nice trails, meadows and fields, and a couple stops at the river for a break and lunch.
Thanks, Di and Shannon, for introducing us to yet another great area which could be used for activities year around.
Yerex Farm Hike June 24
Eighteen people were in attendance for a hike led by Grace on Saturday June 24th. The hike traversed an area in the Riding Mountain escarpment, near Mountain Road, which is part of the home farm of Grace's family. The day brought a few thundershowers but the main portions missed our group and all in all it was a super weather day. The canopy of green helped keep us on the dry side. Following the hike, we stopped for refreshments at the farm and then continued on to Michelle and Kelly's cottage at Kerr Lake for a barbecue. Kelly, acting as tour guide and captain, took everyone on his pontoon boat for a sightseeing tour of the lake. Some members stayed overnight at Arthur and Inga's cottage also located at Kerr Lake, and were prepared a welcome breakfast in the morning. There were four younger people in the age group of 8-12 who were an energetic and fun group. Cheryl's first aid kit came in handy in two instances, and was a good reminder that a first aid kit can be very important on our hikes, bikes, etc.
A BIG Wilderness THANKS to Grace for leading this enjoyable hike.