Spring - 2008

June 7 & 8, 2008 Spruce Woods/TC Trail Bicycle Weekend,
The weather forecast was for a weekend of rain. If you are from England,
this is not a reason to cancel a bicycle ride. On Di's encouragement, the
weekend of bicycling and camping in Spruce Woods went ahead as planned.

Just before noon, on Saturday, June 7, Di, Brian, Lynn, Maureen, Judy and
Bert gathered in the scenic and peaceful Petro Canada parking lot at the
Junction of #1 and #10, then headed off to Spruce Woods. Campers Di, Judy
and Bert booked campsites, phoned and left a message with our camp site
locations for Linda B, who was to join the campers late in the day.

The narrow but firm Trans Canada Trail heading Southeast from the campsite
is a pleasant ride along the river and through rolling hills. At Steele's
Ferry Crossing Judy and Di got into a cat fight over whose odometer was
correct. We separated them and then we continued on to the equestrian
campground, some of us "wimping out" when the trail got rough from the
horses' hooves and taking to the service road running parallel to the track.

We arrived at the equestrian campground, expecting to hear the whinnying of
horses. We'd been told we couldn't camp here, as it was fully booked with
equestrians all summer. I guess equestrians don't camp when the forecast
calls for rain.

After a snack break, we continued along the Trans Canada Trail, which no
longer paralleled an all weather road. In this area, the trail is a sandy
and technically more challenging than the earlier sections of the trail.
Here we almost lost Di and Maureen, as they headed off in the wrong
direction into a gale force wind that threw our shouts back in our faces.
Judy headed cross-country after them, and eventually they turned around and
followed us. The little cross-country jaunt must have dislodged Judy's
computer-a few km down the track she noticed it was missing, and the group
turned back in a valiant computer hunt that ended unsuccessfully back at the
equestrian campground where she last knew she'd had it. Did the computer go
the way of the equestrians, or did Di, who loves cats and hates fights,
scoff it to avoid future cat fights?

The skies were threatening, so we headed back to camp. Heading into the
wind and with clouds threatening to burst, most riders chose the road, but
Bert, as usual took the road less traveled. The road and trail separated
near Steele's Ferry Crossing. It was about there and then that the skies
opened up with a brief but heavy rain shower. Bert took shelter in the cook
shack at Steele's Ferry while the others took a shower on the road. This
caused Bert to wonder if maybe there is a god after all.

Back at the campsite, we debated whether or not we would hold supper until
Linda arrived. Self interest won out over altruism and we decided not to
wait. We ate fresh fruit and veggies while we roasted beef sausages over an
open fire and discussed the mad cow epidemic with Brian, who, as a
veterinarian with Ag Canada, has in-depth knowledge of this issue. After
supper, Brian, Lynne and Maureen loaded up and headed for Brandon. Di, Judy
and Bert pitched tents and then peddled off the see the yurts. We'd made
another call to Linda to see whether she'd changed her mind about
coming-still no answer.

We'd about resigned ourselves to the fact that she wasn't coming, when Linda
pulled up on her bicycle. Her vehicle had failed about 20 km from the park.
Without a cell phone, there weren't many options, so she got on her bike and
rode. Bert and a tired Linda drove back to her van to retrieve her camping
gear and supplies. En route they discussed what a lovely spot the
equestrian campground would have been for our group camp and how glad she
must be that our request to camp there had been denied, because it would
have required her to ride another 10 km to find us. What was that about a
god?

After breakfast Sunday morning, we packed up camp, moved our vehicle to the
camp office parking lot and headed north toward Carberry on the Trans Canada
Trail. Bert rode the trail while Di, Judy and Linda rode some trail but
mostly pavement. We had discussed whether to meet at Yellow Quill or
Epinette. When Bert got to Yellow Quill, there was not a welcoming party,
so he continued to Epinette, where there was no welcoming party either, so
he rode to the highway and parked in the shade.

In time, Di and Judy came over the hill and explained that they had waited
on the highway at Yellow Quill, then Linda decided to ride the trail from
Yellow Quill to Epinette on the of chance that Bert needed to be rescued.
Oh ye of little faith.

When Linda came out of the woods, she and Bert were in agreement. The Trans
Canada Trail between Yellow Quill and Epinette is a technically and
physically challenging bike ride. We headed back to Spruce woods on the
highway, stopped at Marshes for lunch where Bert discovered the delights of
crashing with a tub of yogurt in one's panniers. Even with yogurt soaked
pannier contents, Marshes is a beautiful picnic site. It may be the
prettiest site in the park. After lunch, we rode back to Spruce Woods and
took another trip to show Linda the yurts. They were vacated now, so we had
a chance to scope them out for future adventures. The skies got moody and
we decided drive to Carberry for ice cream rather than find another trail.

Spruce Woods is a wonderful place to cycle. There is riding for all skills
and energy levels with paved or gravel roads closely following many of the
trails. It suits groups where some want a very challenging ride and others
do not. With a bit of planning, everyone can get the ride they want and
still conveniently meet up at points along the way for breaks. Without it,
some get more than they bargained for, and may not always meet up along the
way.

Thanks to Linda and Judy for "dis-organizing" this event and for not wimping
out because of a less than favourable weather forecast.

ps - Di, Judy wants her computer back.

Bert Phillips

June 28-29, 2008 trip to the Duck Mountains

The June 28-29th trip to the Duck Mountains was enjoyed by 7 members of the WWC: Erin and Donna, Grace, Ginger, Heather, Shirley and Roger.  Everyone arrived at Shirley and Roger's cottage at East Blue Lake in Duck Mountain Provincial Park on Saturday noon and after picking out bunk beds, setting up campers, grabbing a quick bit to eat and dressing for hiking, off we went to the Shell Valley Hiking Trail at the west end of the park.  A steep climb was rewarded by scenic vistas of the Shell Valley and numerous stops to identify as many plants as we could.  Blue-eyed grasses, horey pucoons, humming bird moths and delightful wooded and fescu meadow prairies made this hike very memorable.  For our strenuous hiking, we of course earned an ice-cream at the Childs Lake Lodge: yea Shirley for your suggestion!!  And of course the weather was perfect, as it always is in the Ducks.....so I lie sometimes!! 
Saturday evening was a potluck dinner with everyone bringing their favourite Canadian dish to celebrate Canada Day a little early.  We've decided that chili is the Canadian dish of course ( 3 chili dishes between the bunch of us!!)  but what grand food it was and after buring many logs in the outdoor fire pit, the crew headed off to bed.
The next morning Donna and Erin headed off to do some fishing on Shilliday Lake and the rest of us (after a leisurely coffee on the dock) hiked off down the East Blue Lake Hiking trail for interesting glimpses of different mushrooms, fungi and odd critters (a crab spider, which changes colour, eating a wasp) and plants and intriguing views of that emerald blue colour that is so distinctive of East Blue Lake.  The hike and the weekend ended much too soon, but all had a grand time and will have many fond memories of Duck Mountains.  The pictures in the Kodak gallery below are for all to enjoy!! 
Roger and Shirley

 

August 2008 Caribou Lake Backpack

Bright and early on Saturday morning (actually, it wasn't quite
bright yet), Di Ingram and Sylvie Labossière drove from Winnipeg to
the Mantario trailhead near Cadddy Lake (Whiteshell Provincial
Park). Even as they shouldered their packs in the parking lot,
the day was promising to be a scorcher.

They quickly set off to cover the 10km's they would have to travel
to the West Caribou site. To Sylvie's surprise and delight, they
arrived after only 4 hours of hiking. Some improvements had been
made to the trail since previous visits, some by humans and others
by beavers. The floating log "bridges" that had been the site of
numerous hilarious yet gruelling incidents had been replaced by
sturdy wooden boardwalks and the big bog where several hikers have
had the joy of falling in and coming out smelling and looking like
um... well... anyways, it was bigger than before but the beavers
were kind enough to fell a huge tree that spans the width of the
swamp. Hikers can now get across without getting swamp muck in
their knickers and this is a very wonderful thing indeed! Cheers to
the beavers!

We saw no major wildlife on the way in but we did cross paths with
two other hikers, one of which, both Di and Sylvie agreed, looked a
lot like a bear.

Once we arrived at the campsite we set up the tent and then enjoyed
a swim in the lake. Having arrived by 12:30, we were able to enjoy
a lazy afternoon on the big rocks before getting supper ready. The
meal was followed by a campfire during which a very full moon
appeared over the treetops and provided Sylvie and Di with a great
photo subject.

They called it an early night in order to be able to pack up early
and beat the heat again the next day. The coyotes and loons
provided the bedtime lullabyes. On Sunday we made it out in 3,5
hours which blew Sylvie away having never covered this trail in less
than 5 hours.

Having made it back to the vehicle by 11:30 am, we decided to drive
the short distance to West Hawk Lake to cool off in the crystal
clear and chilly waters. The crowd on the beach was a bit of a
shock to the system after leaving our secluded campsite but the
water was well worth it.

We stopped for the traditional post hike ice cream in Beausejour
before making our way back to Winnipeg and Brandon.

Sylvie Labossière

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