We left Falcon Lake (Sharon’s Parents cottage) on Monday after attempting to clean the bugs off the front of the RV (this is a daily task!) and we filled the freshwater and emptied the grey and black tanks. We each have our tasks figured out now that we’ve been through two full cycles;-) The Victoria Day Monday traffic wasn’t too bad heading back to Winnipeg. Here are some shots from our stay at Falcon Lake.
Back in Winnipeg we had a great Jalapeno burger dinner at Brian, Susan, and Maya’s and then went back to Gunnar and Edie’s to do some laundry before heading out on Tuesday. Our goal Tuesday was to visit Spirit Sands and proceed on to Riding Mountain NP but it didn’t quite work out that way. We had to wait on the Trans Canada for a half hour because there had been an accident they were investigating. Along the way we soon discovered that every town has some symbol or statue to get you to stop in their town, and of course we have to see them all;-) Meet the world’s largest fire hydrant and Sara the Camel.
There was major construction on the road leading in to Spruce Woods PP so by the time we arrived we decided we would stay the night, very nice campground and very few people. Once setup we did the Isputinaw Interpretative trail which gave great views of the valley. Back at camp it was our first time to use many of the things we spent time buying in Winnipeg as we had dinner outside, and no bugs which was great for Manitoba.
The next morning we packed up and went to the Spirit Sands and Punch Bowl hiking trails. We walked for about 4 hours of which 2.5 hours was in the rain but what a spectacular area to explore. You would think the sand dunes would be classified a desert but because they get 300 to 500 mm of rain per year it’s not and therefore it had incredible diversity. In the forest areas there was an incredible amount of Poison Ivy, and I thought the Bruce Trail was bad! We were the only people out on the trails today (I guess no one else wanted to hike in the rain) and it sure was nice changing clothes in the RV when we got back and were drenched to the bone.
After the hike we drove up to Riding Mountain NP (Wasagaming Campground) and did the self-check in and just got setup when the rain started. Our plan for the next day significantly changed when we talked to the ranger in the Visitor Center the next morning. It was pouring rain out and he told us the Gorge Creek Trail we wanted to do would be extremely difficult due to the rain. In addition the road to drive there was only good for vehicles up to 2730 KG and our vehicle is 5003 KG. They had this restriction because the original road built in the 30’s was all logs (called a corduroy road) over a swamp so the fear is a heavy vehicle might sink. This meant we would have to drive South, East, and North to go around the park to get to the East Gate. We decided to do that but the rain made the dirt road to the East Gate a disaster with up to 1’ deep ruts! I dodged the ruts where possible as the vehicle slid sideways along the road. We made it in but the RV was now a very different colour. We parked by the gate and walked in to the start of the trail. The good thing about the detour is the rain had now stopped and the sun was trying to come out. We started in to the Gorge Creek trail but it was completely impassable due to Poison Ivy everywhere, very disappointing to have come all the way around and not to be able to do the trail. We had a picnic lunch at the Birches site and then walked down the road and did a partial hike in the Reeves Fork trail. Very pretty forest area and it would have been a fantastic trail if we had our Mountain bikes as it was wider than the Gorge Creek trail so you could avoid the Poison Ivy, we’ll save that for next time;-)
Next we decided to drive North, West, and South to return on Highway 10 through the middle of Riding Mountain NP for different scenery and to do some other trails. We saw Alpine Archie in McCreary for Danny and then got photos in one pair of the NP red chairs. Next we did the Kippan Sawmill Interpretative trail which told all the history of the sawmill back in the early 30’s and we did the Boreal Forest Trail. We ended up getting 5 more wood ticks on us so our total count so far is 10! The best thing for the whole day is when we saw a Moose eating the vegetation from the swamp bottom along the road. We had trouble getting turned around to see him but we watched him for about 15 minutes, it was great!
The next day was another unplanned adventure;-) We started off finding that the Emergency Brake wouldn’t release. We spent about an hour playing around with it and trying to call road side assistance but they were useless and told us all they could do was arrange to have us towed. Eventually I figured out a way to release it so we could start our day. The ranger had told us we could drive to the Bison Enclosure but little did he tell us that it was 23 km of dirt road in and another 27 or so getting out. That would have been ok but with the rain the road was complete washboard and full of mud ruts. It was like playing a game of frogger trying to drive and slide from one side of the road to the other with a large heavy vehicle! We only encountered one other vehicle on the whole road. Luckily though we did get to see 11 of the 40 Bison that were living in the enclosure so I guess it was worth it. If anything was going to break on the new vehicle this bouncing around was going to do it but no issues found other than a huge amount of caked on mud;-)
After we exited the dirt mayhem we started the drive to Regina to visit Sharon’s cousin Barb and John and family. We soon discovered that the secondary roads in Saskatchewan leave a lot to be desired. One stretch we couldn’t get over 40 to 60 kph because there were potholes everywhere, no shoulder at all, and in addition there was a mass caterpillar migration so the road was covered with thousands of caterpillars trying to get to the other side;-) We eventually reached Regina and had a great stew dinner with Barb and John and then enjoyed a relaxing fire pit break in their backyard.
Another tremendous week comes to a close and on to Alberta next week. We’re really enjoying the adventures and the vehicle is working great, we just need more time to explore;-)