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Summer/Fall 2004

July 24 - 26: Mantario Trail Backpack Trip

On Saturday morning a party of 6, (Verne, Donna and Aaron, Arthur , Linda and Sylvie) prepared to head out for a weekend backpack on the Mantario Trail. On that first day we hiked approximately 8 kms out to Caribou Lake. The weather was hot and slowed us down considerably but we were rewarded at the end by a nice campsite on the rocks overlooking the lake. For supper that night we had a great meal prepared by Arthur followed by a dessert prepared by Donna. The evening snack consisted of a fish fry courtesy of Aaron and Donna.

On Sunday we played. like kids. Aaron and Donna fished some more and caught us enough Walleye to make a wonderful fish soup (One fish eyeball was left in it just for excitement, Verne was the lucky winner!). We spent the entire day swimming, picking berries, fishing and just "walrusing" in the sun on the big rocks by the lake. Donna found some clams while snorkeling and we cooked those up as hors d'oeuvres a little while before supper. Verne caught a painted turtle. but we didn't eat it. Just before supper, as we were finishing off a game of dice, we spotted a party of several hikers crossing a marshy bay across the lake from where we were camped (obviously off the beaten path). They came and found us at our camp and told us they got lost coming back from Marion Lake and didn't have any food left so we gave them all our extras (lightened up our packs nicely). Some of them spoke Mandarin so Arthur made them feel very welcome and I wouldn't be surprised if a few of them decided to join the WWC before long. For supper that night we had a great meal prepared by Verne. It was followed by a tasty dessert topped with a wild berry sauce made with berries that Verne, Linda and Arthur had picked that afternoon. After supper as we cleaned up, a bush plane landed on the lake and the pilot stopped to say hello. He told us he was coming back from up North and had just stopped to drop something off. Now we were burning with curiosity about this "something" he had dropped off in a little bay just out of our sight.

A small abandoned rowboat with a leak in the bottom and no oars was at our disposition and so we started throwing ideas around. Arthur offered to carve us some paddles, but that would have taken too long. Someone then suggested we use our plates to paddle our way across the lake in the leaky rowboat. EUREKA! All six of us jumped in and started paddling with 4 of us using dinner plates and Aaron and Arthur using Donna's flippers. Captain Kachkowski made sure we paddled in a straight line and didn't hit any rocks. We searched the bay and found "something" (actually a few things). Can you guess what it was? The trip in the rowboat was a riot however it may have made us pass for lunatics in the eyes of our new neighbors (the lost people).On Sunday we hiked out and made good time due to our early departure and the cooler weather that came with it.

Sylvie Labossiere


Aug 7 & 8 Canoe Trip

All members assembled at the Baldy Lake Warden Station with their canoes in tow. Those present were Alf, Janis, Aaron, Donna, Sylvie, Shawn, Mike, Roger, Carol, Bill, Arthur, Donna, Robert and Lois. Debbie bid us adieu from the Warden Station and we were on our way. Wagon master Robert and Lois with their team of 2 horses, hauled our canoes to the Canoe-Head on the shores of Baldy Lake. Aaron and Donna had left earlier, pulling their canoe with an ingenious invention of canoe wheels by Aaron which worked extremely well.Soon the seven canoes were launched and a search was on for our campsite. Aaron and Donna suggested a peninsula which looked very good, however as intrepid explorers, we decided to look further afield. After quite a long paddle we returned to the original site they suggested and proceeded to set up camp.

When our tents were erected, we set out on another canoe trip around the lake, investigating all nooks and crannies of Baldy. The weather was a superb summers day and all enjoyed sightseeing on this beautiful wilderness lake in Riding Mountain National Park. Mike and Roger were fortunate to spot a couple of Bald Eagles

Back at the campsite once again, we hunkered down around the campfire and enjoyed our supper and the remainder of the evening. Arthur even taught us a song for canoers. The talents in this club never cease to amaze!

We could see approaching clouds in the western horizon and were treated to an overnight thunderstorm, awakening in the morning to overcast and rainy conditions.

Breakfast was soon prepared during a lull in the rain and we feasted on Donna’s Goulash, a treasured campfire recipe, known only to Donna!

Our wagon master(s) returned about 2 PM and canoes were loaded for the trip back to the Warden Station. Once the canoes were loaded back onto the trailers, everyone made their way home.

All in all, it was a great trip, to a new location with good camaraderie amongst the group. A big WWC thanks to Robert and Lois for their efforts in ensuring our canoes were taken to and from the lake shore. Without them, we may have still been trudging and portaging!

Submitted by Carol and Bill


Aug 14 Day Hike on Silver Bend Trail, Miniota

The weather was perfect for a hike on the Silver Bend Trail near Miniota on August 14. With just enough breeze to keep the mosquitoes at a distance, 14 people experienced the area including historic commentary at a few key locations. Did you know that steamboats once travelled from Winnipeg up this corridor and that an essential landing was right along this hiking trail? Doyles Landing became a stop to pick up supplies by people living in the area in the late 1800’s. Several artifacts still exist to remind us of events and those people who lived in the area during that era.
Many awesome views on the 8 km. return trip and many wild flowers were blooming. Who would expect to find a Prairie Crocus blooming in August! Our members and visitor included Alf & Janis Stanley, Shelly Doerksen, Mary Ritchie, Roger Winger, Jana (our visitor from Germany), Stephanie & Bert Phillips, Judy Bartel, Kim Smith, Bob Mason, Di Ingram, Margaret Yorke and Millie Reid. It was a great day and topped off with ice cream and drinks at the local Convenience Store.

Submitted by Marg & Millie


Aug21-22 Central Trail Bike Trip

It started out as a cool wet Saturday morning. We buried the thought of a dry chalet at The Elkhorn Resort and headed down the Baldy Lake Trail towards the Central Trail in Riding Mountain National Park. A group of horse riders had beaten us to the Gunn Creek Camp so our plans to ride the whole Central got changed to the east end of the trail. Still a 55km trip.

The weather turned around, as it often does in Manitoba, and we had a great trip to Gunn Lake Camp. Aaron amazed us with his fishing skills and soon we were all eating fresh Jack fish cooked in butter. But out of 11 experienced outdoors people no one had salt or pepper. It really didn't matter because the fish tasted great. Joining me were Donna, Aaron, Carol, Bill, Judy, Bert, Joey, Glen G, Fred, and Di. We had a few thunderstorms move through on Saturday evening and we were all glad for a rain tarp someone had brought. Donna taught us a new game called Wizzard. I really do think she makes up her own rules for these games. On Sunday we rode to Whitewater Lake for lunch and before we knew it our wilderness adventure was over and we were back at the cars. Besides the hundreds of salamanders we tried not to run over, the only other wildlife was a bear that Aaron and Donna saw along the bison enclosure.

Cheers, Eldon!


Aug 28 Canoe Clinic Oak Lake

A very valuable and informative canoe clinic was held on Aug. 28th at Oak Lake Beach. Oak Lake beach is located one hour west of Brandon near the town of Oak Lake. It taught a number of the members how to get back into a canoe if you get dumped in rough waters. Believe me, when I say that it was not easy. It is very difficult to get all the water out of the canoe which emphasizes the importance of having a bailing can along. Also it is difficult to get back in if you are alone.

The most valuable thing we learned is to never get yourself into that kind of a situation. Always watch the weather and get off the lake until it clears up. Another good rule is to never get too far away from shore whenever possible. Our many thanks to Glen Gatin for putting the clinic on.
There were 17 members and guests at the clinic although not everyone went in the water. A potluck was held at Norma Lennon's cottage and we even went for a hike out to Plum marsh. Those present were:Sylvie H'ebert, Alf and Janis Stanley,Sylvie Labossier, Bridget and Arnold McFaden,Maureen Munro, Fred Goods and Jackie Beckta, Carol and Bill Stadnyk, Glen Gatin,Sheri Hnatiuk, Aaron and Donna Kulbacki, Verne Kachkowski and Norma Lennon

Submitted by Verne Kachkowski


Sept. 4th, 5th and 6th 2004: Caribou Lake Backpack

On Saturday morning, Louise, Sylvie, Jeannette, her son Anthony and his friend Tyler met at the South Mantario Trailhead in pouring rain. We decided to brave the trail despite the weather, hoping the forecast would prove correct and that the rain would soon pass. We hiked approx. 5hrs to the campsite which was still unoccupied. It rained all night and through most of Sunday. Sunday morning was particularly beautiful with a heavy mist rising off the lake’s glassy surface and a couple of loons providing the soundtrack to match the serene atmosphere. The mood was soon broken by more rain. The old rowboat the last WWC group had fun with at this site made an appearance on Sunday night, this time carrying two soggy men and their gear all the way from the East Caribou site. They were lucky enough to find two pieces of board in a beaver dam to paddle with and didn’t have to use their plates. We got an early start on Monday hoping for some dry weather and got about 2 hours of it, however, the runoff from the last few days had turned the trail into a small river of muck. We trudged through ankle deep muck and water most of the way back. Louise fell into the same swamp twice going over some logs and I wiped out in the mud at least 3 times, very gracefully of course! These incidents caused some laughter. Everyone was filthy and wet after our 5 hr hike back to the parking lot. Every hiker had been on this trail before except for Louise who was backpacking for the first time and was an excellent sport even after having her brand new boots fill up with mud and going for a splash in the swamp.

Sylvie Labossiere


Sept 10,11 and 12th 2004 Chain Lakes Canoe Trip

The Chain Lakes are located in Duck Mountain Provincial Park just north of East Blue Lake and about a 3 hour drive NNW of Brandon. All participants (Aaron, Donna, Collin, Howard, Paul, Kevin, Eldon, Wayne, Gareth, Linda, Carol and Bill), 12 in total with 6 canoes, met at East Blue Lake where overnight lodging had been arranged at the Blue Lakes Resort.

The chilly evening, soon had us in warm gear and fires lit both in the campfire area and in the cook stove in the cottage. Following breakfast next morning, we departed for the canoe-head at the base of the Chain Lake system.

Canoes and supplies were unloaded and taken to the waters edge and before long we were underway. We stopped at the first campsite and soon had our tents set up as well as a large tarpaulin for rain protection. Wayne soon had one of his patented Wiffies (Wayne's Biffies) set up to everyone's delight!

All six canoes then set out for the top part of the Lakes and before too long were at the last lake in the chain, which proved to be Nirvana for the fisher persons in the group. It seemed that each time a line was thrown out a fish would bite and the limits were soon met.
We then made our way back to the campsite for a pleasant evening around the campfire, with fresh fried fish as an appetizer. Donna and Aaron cooked up a DELICIOUS apple pie on their campfire sandwich maker- cum waffle maker-It was enjoyed by all, along with their Hawthorne jelly and biscuits!! Eventually, we were off to sleep to the pitter patter of raindrops, which continued all night.

Following breakfast and COFFEE-yummm yummm!, (during which time the showers managed to cease) we broke camp and headed back to the start point, from which everyone departed in their vehicles.

In summation, Chain Lakes is a super scenic canoe trip of easy to medium paddling and portages. A big thanks to Aaron and Donna for making the arrangements for this outing. We look forward to getting back to this spot in more suitable weather, even though the weather we had was more than tolerable. (And Kevin (11 years old) you did a GREAT job -way to go!!).

Submitted by Carol and Bill


Sept 17,18 &19 Weekend camp at Bill and Carol’s cottage.

This was Terje and my first weekend with the wilderness club, and what an impression it made on us ! Aside from having some difficulty finding our destination on Friday evening, the whole weekend was spectacular!

We arrived at Bill and Carol’s cottage nestled in a park-like setting on the shore of Rossman Lake and were introduced to Shannon and Marg. Shannon was from Virden and Marg was from Oak Lake resort. Bill asisted Terje in finding a very scenic spot to park our camper and after a short visit, we settled early for our big day on Saturday.

We started a 33 km. Scenic bike trip around 10:30 am. The six of us who had met earlier were joined by Alf and Janis, Lynn and Julie who had motored in for the day from Clear Lake and Brandon. We traveled along the roads ( hills and valleys….many of them !! ) of the beautiful Birdtail Valley. Unfortunately, Julie and Lynn made a wrong turn and separated from the rest of us early in the trip. They left us a note on their return to the cottage. The rest of us continued on to “Cranberry Hill”. On our way , we stopped at Gun Creek Ranch to take in the scenery and a rest. We had lunch at Gerry’s place and this was a delightful experience. We had a picturesque view from his privately owned dance hall and took the opportunity to capture some beauty on film.

We headed on thru the valley and came to “Butler Hill”… I wonder how it compares to Bertha on the # 10 highway on the north end of the park ? We succeeded the climb and were on the home stretch. Up until now, the weather had co-operated ! The wind came up and we had a little sprinkle of rain. We all made it back to the cottage around three pm. A cool beverage and sitting around the camp fire was a great way to unwind.

We had a fantastic pot luck supper , then later in the evening participated in a sing along , while Bill played some “ vignettes” on his guitar. Members Blair and Debbie stopped in for the fun as well. We all retired early though , in preparation for another big day at Baldy Lake on Sunday. The wind continued through out the night, but the sky was clear and the temperature was perfect . perhaps some fallout from Hurricane Ivan ??

In the morning after breakfast, Bill, Carol, Shannon, Marg, Terje and I took a little tour of Bill and Carol’s 80 acres. We went to the lookout over the lake and passed by 8 oaks point , the peat bog and beaver lodge. We observed hawthorns, black currents, burdock, high bush cranberries and many other things. Not to mention the beautiful fall colors. After Bill and Marg went on a canoe ride and the rest of us took a lakeside stroll. We met Kim, Marylin, Jane and Brenda at the Baldy Lake warden station at 2 pm. Robert and Lois were there with their horses . Debbie gave us a tour of her pottery house. We hiked a couple of hours into Baldy Lake where we took a refreshment break and on our way out we took a side trail, up to the fire lookout tower.. A back bear was the only wildlife we saw, but all kinds of signs of wild creatures including mosquitoes were seen.

We made our way out and then were off to Oha for the fall supper. This was a meal that said, come back again! The people in the community are sure organized and know how to cook. We saw the old general store and toured the 100 year old church.

Thank you Bill and Carol for being such gracious hosts and for such a wonderful weekend.

Submitted by Grace and Terje Hellebakken


Katherine Lake Day Hike.

We struck Gold! Golden leaves, and a golden warm day in Riding Mountain National Park—what could be a more perfect day? On this balmy 20C plus day, 22 hikers enjoyed a 10 km. Trek around Lake Katherine, out to Tamarack Lake and then up to a beautiful view from Sunset Hill. Attesting to the majesty of the area, Alf pointed out massive poplar trees that mark the entry into the secluded and serene Tamarack Lake. Thanks to Janis and Alf, our gracious hosts, and Roger and Cheryl Winger as well as Ed Burridge and Indy the dog, for taking us through their ‘ backyards and into the wilderness. Also joining the group were Grace and Terjr Hallebakkin, Lori Buckley, Ginger Mann, Mary Kowbel, Jackie Beckta and her father Tom, Trudy and Norm Hemstad, Marris and Joanne Bos, Julie and her mighty 7 year old Flori Small, Ken and Vicki Bridger and Maureen and Brent Munroe.

Submitted by Maureen Munroe


Oct 2, 2004 Bald hill Day Hike

The day started with breakfast at Elkhorn Resort. There were a few new members and in total there were 17 of us. We then drove to the east side of Riding Mountain National Park which in itself was beautiful trip. The Tamarack trees had changed to a golden yellow and were so pretty set against the green of the pines.

With our trusty guide Jim Wilkie in the lead, we hiked up Bald Hill trail until we came to the intersection of Bald Hill trail and Jet trail. We followed Jet trail to the first outlook, overlooking Packhorse trail which was a climb of approximately 700 vertical feet. The reward at the top was spectacular! A huge ravine glowing with the colors of fall.

We then circled around Mount Baker to an area that gave us a view of our destination….Bald Hill. A huge bald hill of shale amongst acres of foliage. An unusual site!! After a steep descent down to the creek we had a quick lunch at the base of Bald Hill in the company of many, many ladybugs. They were everywhere!

We then conquered the "Bald Hill". And what a view!! We could see for miles. Its an amazing site to see flat landscape for miles below and then the sudden change as RMNP rises from the prairie. On the hike back we crossed Bald Hill Creek approx. 13 times. Most times there were strategically placed stepping stones to make the crossing easier. Some of us found the stones a bit of a challenge and that there is nothing more refreshing than a quick dip in the creek to cool your tired, hot feet.

It was my first time on this hike being a fairly new member, and I HIGHLY recommend it. It was a challenge with breathtaking rewards at the top. A huge thank you to Jim Wilkie, our guide on this hike. His knowledge and expertise in this area made the trip even more enjoyable, and his humor and stories made it a lot of fun. Members participating were : Alf & Janis Stanley, Roger Winger, Tammy Saler, Shannon Scott, Patsy Michiels, Verne Kachkowski, Maureen Munroe, Bob Mason, Lori Buckley, Di Ingram, Mike Rossier, Lana Roy, Val Rounds, Jim Wilkie and guests Susan Olson and Koralie Mooney.

Submitted by Lori Buckley


Oct 9,10 & 11th, Épinette Creek Backpack (Spruce Woods Provincial Park)

Two club members (Sylvie L and Glen G.) along with 5 visitors (Jeannette M.,Anthony M. Louise D., Renée V. and Jean L.) met Saturday at noon at the Épinette Creek trailhead. We hiked about 2 hours until we reached cabin #3.The fall colours were beautiful, especially the tamarack. That evening some of us enjoyed a walk up to an elaborate beaver "compound" followed by dinner, a rousing game of rummy and some stargazing under a perfectly clear sky. On Sunday morning we woke up to some crisp but lovely weather. Five members of the group decided to tackle the Newfoundland loop (approx 23km's) while two others stayed behind to do some photography, read and take it easy. Some of the hikers came back from their walk blistered and tuckered out but still quite cheery. Needless to say, we called it an early night. During the night Jeannette said we hit -4 degrees C which would explain the thin sheets of crispy ice we found under our tent flies in the morning. Most of us got an early start on Monday morning so we could make it back home in time to catch a turkey dinner. Overall we had a great weekend with good company and some of the most beautiful weather of the season?.

Sylvie Labossière


Oct 16th Brandon Hills Trails Clean Up

Saturday started off crisp and cool and somewhat overcast but once we got started we warmed right up. We had anticipated a major clean up but fortunately Natural Resources had sent in a machine and they cleaned up the larger deadfall and even had a brush cutter go through to trim the side branches. Our job was only to dispose of the loose branches left lying around and do some minor trimming on the sides of the trails. Nine members participated in the clean up. Members were Val Rounds, Bob Mason, Di Ingram, Norm Hemstad, Helen Orr, Lana Roy, Judy Bartel, Bert Phillips and Verne Kachkowski.

Our thanks to these members who pitched in to keep the trails clear. We had decided to pick up any garbage that we found on the trails and I am happy to announce that we found only one plastic water bottle and one beer can. A pat on the back to all the responsible people who use the trails. The Brandon Hills ski trails are located south of Brandon in the Brandon hills and were developed for cross country skiing for the 1979 winter games . They consist of a 7.5 K loop, a 5 K loop and a 2.2 K loop.

Submitted by Verne Kachkowski


Oct 17th Back Country Hike.

This was a hike that took advantage of ski, snowshoe, and animal trails. However Mike Rossier our event leader, knows this area like the back of his hand, and he had the trail all mapped out for us. Then Marg Yorke threw him a curve and asked him if the trail went as far as Jackfish Lake, and Mike said it stopped a kilometer short of the lake because it was a very swampy area. Hardy souls that we are we decided to try to make it to the lake and that was where the backcountry really started. We followed elk trails and skirted the swamp and finally turned back without reaching the lake but it was a great hike into an area that few people see. Jack Fish Lake is situated approx. 6.5 K west of # 10 highway in Riding Mountain National Park.

Members that participated were - Mike Rossier, Marg Yorke, Millie Reid, Bob Mason, Di Ingram, Barb Tousignant, Arthur Au, Mary Kowbel, and Verne Kachkowski.

We met at Elkhorn Ranch for breakfast, went on the hike and then stopped at Southgate on the way back for coffee and cinnamon buns. Can't get much better than that, can it?

Submitted byVerne Kachkowski


Oct 22,23rd Cairn’s Cabin Backpack trip.

Ed Beamish’s annual overnight back pack trip into Cairn’s cabin was again a great success. Cairn's Cabin is located in Riding Mountain National Park 15 kilometers down the Ochre River Trail. This trail winds it’s way north easterly from it’s trail head about 15 minutes north of Clear Lake on # 10 highway, working its way down off the escarpment. . It’s elevation drops substantially the farther along the trail you go. The popularity of this event has made it a necessity to go in in two groups.

Members of the first group going in on Friday Oct 22nd were Alf & Janis Stanley, Roger Winger, Brian Paterson from Brandon, Sylvie Labossiere with guest her brother Jean Pierre(JP) from Winnipeg. Also Guest Emilie Lombardo from Toronto who works as a volunteer with Katimavik program and is doing a term volunteer work in Winnipeg had joined us. Sylvie , JP. and Emilie had driven from Winnipeg Thurs evening and spent a night at the Stanley’s cottage in preparation for an early start the next morning.

The trail had about two inches of fresh snow and lots of water from the past week of wet weather. There were creeks running where there had never been creeks before. Despite these conditions the hikers made very good progress until they arrived at the first major creek to cross. Janis had improvised a pair of hip waiters out of garbage bags and everyone except Brian used them to cross in

Brian made a big splash when he tried to cross on some logs, Needless to say he was very wet.. At the second crossing everyone did the frog hop across a very icy tree, which had fallen across the creek. This became necessary after JP had tried to do a balancing act walking across the tree and had slipped off making the second big splash of the day. I do not know if he was trying to out do Brian or not. The cabin was a very inviting site when we arrived tired and wet.

The cabin was very clean, wood box full and kindling split ready for arriving hikers. A great thank you to the previous user groups. After an enjoyable night at the cabin Brian, Roger, Alf and Janis headed off for the long climb back up to the trailhead. The other three were staying behind for another night and joining the second group. The hike out was very enjoyable with the temperature above zero and most of the snow melted. A brief meeting was held to share adventures stories as we met the incoming group of six at the half way mark. We must thank the group of Westman Wilderness Club members who built Cairn’s cabin in 1989.

Submitted by Alf Stanley


Oct 23-24 Cairn's Cabin Craziness

A great 3 day event -- Some in Friday and stayed Friday night; others in on Saturday, stayed Saturday night; Some for both nights.

Now that's living! Trail was wet but passable, although Brian Paterson tried out some swimming strokes in one of the creeks. Cabin was in tip top shape, floor is even cleaner now that Mike Beamish mopped it up with Calvin's boiled spaghetti!!! Oh well, re-boiled it -- just a touch of sawdust flavor but still tasted o.k.!

FELLOWSHIP -- Well loads of laughs and trickery too! One stone snuck into Calvin's pack on the trail in, led to two stones into Brent's pack on the way out. I guess we're both strong, just not too bright!

HOSPITALITY -- Sylvie brought along a great young gal, Emily, a member of the Katimavik program who hales from Toronto. I'm sure she enjoyed our antics and the great scenery

THANKS -- To all for the great fun together -- Sylvie and J.P. LaBossiere, Ed and Mike Beamish, Mike Rossier, Brent and Maureen Munroe, and you too Calvin Tiller!!!

Submitted by Brent Munroe


Gorge Creek Hike – Oct. 30

Thirteen members of the club plus one guest enjoyed the Annual Gorge Creek Hike on Sat. Oct 30. After meeting for breakfast at the Southgate Motel in Onanole and getting vehicles to the trail end, we were able to set off at about 11am. There was a light dusting of snow on the south side of the gorge, but by the time we hit the north side the sun was poking through the clouds and the snow was gone. Little in the way of wildlife sighting, but a great day for a hike. Gorge Creek is situated in Riding Mountain National Park on the east escarpment. The trailhead is located across from Dead Ox creek parking lot along highway #19 and meanders down the escarpment almost to the east park gate

Submitted by Roger Bright

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