On a beautiful July day I got a text from @thisismichaeljanzen saying, “Hey want to go for a paddle?” and I was instantly excited!
We met up and drove down the scenic highway 19 on the east side of Riding Mountain National Park to one of the many bridges that cross rivers and creeks. Instead of crossing the river we parked on the side of the road and unloaded a canoe and kayak with @heatherolney. We put them in the water and set off down the river.
The river was quite shallow and we had to avoid some large rocks protruding from the water, and a few hiding beneath. All you could hear was the sounds of birds chirping, the paddles smacking the water, and a soft breeze blowing through the tall grass. Off in the distance above the reeds you could see a magnificent wall of trees. We continued down the river and came across a stunningly large beaver dam! It was so big that the water on the other side was higher than our line of sight while sitting in the canoe! Michael and I got out of the canoe, Heather out of her kayak, and we climbed over the dam and got back into the water on the other side. It was much easier paddling in the deeper water and we moved along at a good pace. On the banks of the river there were many traces of animals in the area. Wide trails with heavily packed down vegetation were a common sight. Also there was a giant beaver hut. There must be some very efficient beavers in that river.
After a short amount of time we made it to the lake. It was quite large and almost perfectly circular. We made our way across the lake to continue on some smaller streams. On the other side we came across two of what we believe are loon eggs.
We tried going down the stream and made it a little ways but it soon became to narrow for our canoe. We headed back and tried the next stream but ran into the same problem. At one point Heather heard a loud rustling sound and then the pounding of a large animal running. Based on the amount of matted down grass we figured that it was a moose.
We had a couple snacks and made our way back down the river. We checked out the beaver hut again and while Michael and I portaged over the dam Heather shot down it like it was a water slide!
We reached the bridge after coming back the eight kilometres and it started to spit. We loaded everything up again and headed back to Wasagaming. On our way back we met a bear on the road, but unfortunately didn’t get and good pictures.
All in all, canoeing to remote Carson Lake with Michael and Heather made for a great afternoon.
It all started when our trail ended. We had taken a side trail for fun after finishing our main ride. So far we had seen lots of burned trees from a prescribed burn, and crossed a river. Then, there was no more trail. Despite the fact that there was no trail we decided to keep going. It was agreed that we would head in the general direction of where our tent was set up. After a couple minutes of riding, we were surrounded by hundreds of wildflowers. It was very beautiful, I couldn’t have chosen a nicer place to get lost. Soon the sun was going to set and we had no more water. Now we had reached the point where it was to far to go back down the trail before dark. Finally, when we had absolutely no idea where to go, I decided to get off of my bike and run to the top of a hill for a better look. I was using the last of my strength to charge through the many flowers and get to the top of the hill. When I got there I found another hill blocking my view. I had a general idea of where the road should be, and I couldn’t see it because of the second hill. So I powered on and got to the next hill. When I reached the top I saw the road! At that instant I was overjoyed! I just yelled as loud as I could, “I SEE THE ROAD!” With a newly found energy I ran back to my bike and we rode out of the field of flowers and took the road back to our tent. All in all, despite getting lost, it was a grand adventure.
It had been years since I was last seated on the back of a horse, but today I was going to spend five hours bouncing through the beautiful backwoods and prairies in the north west corner of Riding Mountain National Park. It was late in August and we woke up early to head out to 9 Finger Ranch where we would start our day of riding. We set off down our regular commute, beautiful as always, then we turned down highway 45, into unexplored land. Just ten minutes after we set off down the road, the landscape changed dramatically. All around us there was water. Ponds and creeks took over the farmland occasionally creating a small lake. With all of this water there was hundreds of birds.
The cause of all this water was a flood in 2014 that happened because of a blocked culvert. As we were driving I noticed a Cormorant standing on a fence post protruding from the water. There was a perfect reflection, and I just couldn't miss the opportunity to capture it. I yelled, “Stop!!” Then we backed up down the highway and snapped lots of pictures. It was completely worth it!
As we drove on there were several more encounters like that one, resulting in lots of pictures of birds!
We reached Rossburn and were almost at the ranch! We only got lost a few times on the back roads before we got there! The owners who had immigrated from Germany in their youth and lived all across Canada before finally settling down and starting the ranch were very friendly. I learned the story behind the name 9 Finger Ranch was because both of his grandparents were missing a thumb! When we arrived at the trailhead I hopped on my horse, Punk. We rode through beautiful plains and woodland. There were wildflowers as far as the eye could see. It really was amazing.
The first river we crossed I admit that I was slightly nervous. It ended up being quite easy and I had mastered it by the end of the day!
After climbing up a challenging hill we were rewarded with a breathtaking view. Our guide said whenever he needs to think he rides out here and sits down for a spell. One time he witnessed a bald eagle fly out from a pine beneath him. What an experience to be above an eagle as it flies!
After two and a half hours we stopped and had a picnic. It was only then I realized how sore I actually was! When we finished eating our lunch we headed back. The return trip was equally amazing!
While riding back I thought to myself, today I have created memories that I will cherish forever, and I have.