In the days leading up to our backpacking trip, every time we would look at the forecast, things would get a little worse – a little more rain (or snow), colder temperatures, windier, etc. We began to question if we really wanted to go. The day before we left, I asked Ron, “Have you been looking at the weather? Are we sure we want to do this?” His reply was, “I’m game”. So it was settled.
Saturday, Margarita and I set out for the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park a little later than planned. Despite our late arrival, we were still met with smiles from Ron and Annie and two happy boxers (Newman and Vicka). We filled our packs, put on our rain coats and hit the muddy trail.
The trail itself wasn’t too difficult but there were a few fun obstacles. The first obstacle that we came to was a small cliff. It was about eight or nine feet high with a birch tree conveniently placed beside it for us to use as support. Vicka and Newman wanted nothing to do with the cliff. So after Annie climbed down, Ron passed down his pack, climbed half way down and grabbed Newman and passed him down to Annie. Then he did the same with Vicka. It was pretty funny to see. Once we were all safely at the bottom, we continued walking along the rocky dirt path.
After about ten minutes, we came to our next trial. It was a beaver dam. We quickly learned whose hikers were waterproof and whose weren’t – mine were the latter. Actually, come to think of it, I was the only one who had boots drying by the fire…
Again, Newman and Vicka weren’t overly interested in this activity. They whined and paced back and forth along the shore. Only after Ron crossed to the other shore and Annie took off their packs (saddlebags) and started crossing would they cross. I have to say, they’re pretty brave pups.
When Margarita and I reached our campsite, Ron and Annie had already scoured the site and found lots of treasures. Someone left a flag – a large pair of pants were hung on the end of a stick and placed on the shore. It was blowing wildly, full of air in the strong, gusty wind.
Someone also left a nice bow saw, some camping dishes and some cut wood in a small handmade shelter. We only made use of the saw and left everything as it was when we left.
The best treasure that we found was an old patched up aluminum canoe with handmade paddles. There was a note inside the canoe that said that the SS Snooty- Fox was indeed seaworthy. We wanted to test the claim but the weather never allowed us to give it a shot.
After setting up our tents we sat around the fire and had a celebratory can of MacKinnon Brothers 8 Man EPA (my new favourite beer).
We called it a night reasonably early since the wind was howling and bitterly cold.
On trips, I’m typically up at the crack of dawn but not this trip. I woke up and I laid there listening and watching the rain and wind pound against the side of the tent. “Nope, not today”. I got up at 9:30.
After a healthy dose of a bacon and egg-and-veggie scramble with a bagel and coffee, we sat around trying to decide how we would beat the windiest and coldest (high of 3°c) May 15th I can remember. We didn’t do a whole lot this day. The crappy weather really killed any motivation we had to do much of anything.
After dinner we broke into the boxed wine, then whiskey and then Patrick Chan (a McDonald’s Patrick Chan water bottle filled with rum), marshmallows and hotdogs. When we were all feeling just right, we hung the food bag and called it a night.
Monday morning, we were a little sluggish getting up and moving. On the bright side, the sun was shining. The wind however, was still out in full force.
After breakfast. We packed up and headed back towards the Devil’s Lake Road access point. Since it wasn’t raining and the sun was shining, the trail was drier and much easier to hike. We made it back to the parking lot in a little over two hours. We said goodbye to our two favourite boxers and headed back to Ottawa.
We all loved this trip despite the weather and my lingering knee injury. It is a beautiful park with some rather challenging but fun obstacles and best of all, for the time being, it’s free to enjoy.