Monday 13 August 2012

The Great Outdoors: Gunn Lake

I've almost forgotten how to create a blog post, it's been so long. Just to get Blogger loosened up and moving again, I'll share my weekend hiking experience.

I've hiked before, but never overnight. Never having to carry all my provisions on my back. Last weekend me and two friends decided to give it a try, and picked the Baldy Lake / Gunn Lake trail in Riding Mountain National Park as our testing ground.

Riding Mountain is a great place to try out back-country camping, for a few of reasons:

1. The trails are very clear and well marked. It is impossible to lose the trail. Perhaps after a few decades of federal funding cuts the trails may get to be more ragged, but as it is, if you lose your way in Riding Mountain then you shouldn't be allowed outside of your house without a tether or GPS chip embedded in your skull.

2. There is lots of wildlife. (For some people this may be a con rather than a pro ..)

3. Firewood. The campsites and well stocked with dry chopped firewood. This is a HUGE bonus.

The trail we picked was very easy to hike. Mostly flat and grassy with only a few muddy spots or steep areas where you have to watch your footing. The 16.5 km hike each way is supposed to take 4-5 hours depending on who you talk to, but we did it in slightly less. Still, it's a long walk with 25 lbs on your back.

It rained for about 4 hours Saturday afternoon/evening, making for a nice green (and wet) campsite:

The rain sucked, but when the clouds broke you could walk down to the lake to catch a nice sunset

The final 1.9 km Gunn Lake portion of the trail is the most interesting, with some hills and a nice view of a swampy valley ...

... but it was the longer Baldy Lake / Central part where we saw most of the wild life, including two bears, a moose, a deer, rabbits, this weaselly thing ...

... and these salamandery things ...

Isn't he just precious? I googled Manitoba salamanders, and figure this guy is an eastern tiger salamander, or some sub-species thereof.

You can get an idea from the weasel picture of what the trails are like. See what I mean? Even the most incompetent hiker can't lose their way here, unless maybe they do bat spins and forget what direction they're headed in.

Unfortunately it was too cloudy to witness the Perseids meteor shower, if we could even stay up that late after driving for 3.5 hours and hiking 16.5 k, but the sunset and the wildlife gave us enough highlights to make us not regret the pain we were in afterwards.

If you do this trail, I highly recommend stopping in at the Olha General Store for an ice cream bar on the way home.

Olha Manitoba. Population: three old people sitting in a general store. It is a very well-kept little hamlet, actually.

Would I do this trail again? Probably not. I would look for something maybe a little shorter but more scenic and technically challenging, but it was a nice trip. That pre-chopped firewood at the campsite sure makes back-country camping a lot less painful.

1 comment:

Gustav Nelson said...

Some very nice pictures in there!

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