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Friday, September 10, 2010

Prince Albert National Park - Saskatchewan Canada - Labor Day Weekend 2010

Well, I've found myself in Saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada with a 4-day break between work weeks and decided to head up to Prince Albert National Park for the Labor Day weekend.  It's about 140 miles north of Saskatoon which puts it within reasonable driving distance.

I did a little research on the park before leaving.  Here's a link to the National Park website: Prince Albert National Park

Here's a link to the Wikepedia writeup on Prince Albert National Park:

I also did some research on lodging in the park and came up with the Kapisiwin Bungelows which is just north of the town of Waskesiu -

So on Friday, 09/03/10 I got everything packed up ....

 loaded up....

and headed out of Saskatoon on Hwy 11 North to Prince Albert - Yeehaw.... on the road again!

I caught some beautiful roadside scenery on the way up to Prince Albert and then on Hwy 2 towards the park... Man - talk about Amber Waves of Grain... this place has it!

Then I got to this point and I had to decide whether to take the South Gate entrance or the East Gate entrance to Prince Albert National Park..... Scenic Route vs Main Access.... you know me.... I'm here to soak up the scenery so I hung a left here.

and entered the park on Hwy 263

and found myself immediately being enveloped in the history, scenery and visceral allure of Prince Albert National Park where the meadows and plains of Canada....

Merge with the streams and forests,


History.... like the Freight Trail which began as a Hudson Bay Company route connecting Prince Albert to Montreal Lake.

and the Poetry of Prince Albert National Park -

I took a little detour off 263 to take a look at Trapper's Lake....

and then continued north on 263.  At this point I reached the flagship of Prince Albert National Park - Waskesiu Lake....

I drove through the town of Waskesiu -

Stopped at the Visitor Center to pick up some maps and get some info.

I drove around the east end of Waskesiu Lake to where I was staying at Kapasiwin Bungelows.  By then it was about 7 pm MT so I quickly got unloaded and hit a hike and bike trail known as the Red Deer Trail.... it's separated into a Blue, Yellow and Red Loop... I decided to take the outer boundary of this Trail System..

This is a wonderful trail that winds through woods....

On road....  Off road....

Over roads...

Down roads...

Up hills....

At this point, I realized.... I'm here.... I'm in the Boreal Woods of Canada in Prince Albert National Park riding my bicycle on a really cool Hike and Bike Trail.... who woulda thunk it!

I rounded a turn and spotted a beautiful Whitetail Deer fawn...

followed by a lakeside boardwalk....

Before continuing through a Golf Course....

and ending up lakeside where I spent the waning moments of the day enjoying sunset over the beautiful Waskesiu Lake...

Man! What a Day.... and this was just the 1st Day!

Day 2 (Saturday 09/04/10) began early.... I mean... come on - here I am at one of the most beautiful places in Canada.... you think I'm gonna lay around and sleep all day.... Hell no.... first things first.... Breakfast!

The plan for the day is to cycle down the Kingsmere Road from the Kapasiwin Bungelows all the way to the end to the Kingsmere River Trail and back again..... about 60 miles round trip and do some hiking on some trails along the way. 

Now that we've eaten, let's get this show on the road!

First stop is an overlook of Waskesiu Lake with the Waskesiu Marina in the distance -

then a crossing of the Waskesiu River -

I rode down the road and into the Waskesiu Marina - the largest marina in the park and disturbed a flock of Canada Geese....

I explored the entire marina all the way out to the end of the breakwater.

I got back out on Kingsmere Road and cycled down to the Point View Picnic Area.  These picnic areas in this park are well outfitted with shelters and woodburning stoves not to mention beautiful views of Waskesiu Lake.

There's many of the these small 20 acre lakes around Waskesiu Lake.

Next I made a turn-in at the Birch Bay Picnic Area

And then the marina at the Hanging Heart Lakes....

Coming out of the Hanging Heart Lakes Marina, the Kingsmere Road goes from paved to gravel....

So down the gravel road I pedaled to the Narrows Peninsula Trail... at this point I'm about here on the Kingsmere Road:

This place was kinda remote so I decided to hide my bike in the brush and lock it to a tree.... you know when you're riding a bike, security is everything and locking or chaining your bike is all fine and dandy but sometimes the best defense is to just make the thing invisible.....

and then off we go down the Yellowbrick Road..... oops.... I mean the Narrows Peninsula Trail!  What a cool trail that loops out into a peninsula jutting into Waskesiu Lake.... so you get a beautiful descent to the lake and then incredible lake views!

There were a lot of people out fishing this weekend and this guy had a beautiful spot to fish!

By now it was lunch time, so I plopped down on the bank of the lake.... beats the best table in the best restaurant anyday!

The wind was really kicking up by this time as you can see the whitecaps in this pic.

I came out of the Narrows Peninsula Trail and got back on the Kingsmere Road and was tooling along, came over a little rise in the road and what did I see loping along the edge of the woods on the left side of the road..... a Timber Wolf!  I mean right there at about 20 yards.... it was going in the same direction as I was and I tried to get the bike stopped quietly and get my camera out without alerting it to my presence but it saw me and took off and I snapped this pic as it crossed the road in front of me.... what a treat to see a Timber Wolf in the wild!

I finally reached the end of the Kingsmere Road and locked my bike up at the parking area and hiked down to the boat ramp entering the Kingsmere River.

This narrow river joins the northern end of Waskesiu Lake with Kingsmere Lake.

You can see this stretch of connective waterway on the map.

So I took off on the Kingsmere River Trail where I came around a turn in the trail and spotted a family of otters...

The otters took off downhill to the river (without me getting a pic).... I seem to be getting slower on my quick draw picture taking!

At this point, I came upon a really cool aspect of the Kingsmere River Trail.... in a nutshell, this trail also serves as a railway portage for boats along the stretch of the Kingsmere River from the end of Waskesiu Lake to Kingsmere Lake.... it's almost half a mile of overland portage.... check this out!

First, you pull your boat up on a ramp with a permanently installed winch and cable.

You load it on a trolley.... there's a small one for canoes and small boats.

There's a larger ones for larger boats that are fully loaded.  These guys were about halfway through their portage so I helped them push it the rest of the way.  I was running low on water so these guys gave me a water and a Gatorade.  These are the kind of friendly, fun-loving folks I met throughout the park.... Man, you really gotta want to go fishing to work this hard!

This pic shows the long railway portage through the boreal forest.

At the other end of the railway there's another ramp where you unload your boat back into the Kingsmere River.

The Kingsmere River trail continues on a little further with beautiful elements of flora around every turn.

The trail ends at the Southend Campground on the southern tip of Kingsmere Lake.

I hiked back out on the Kingsmere River Trail to the southern portage ramp where I met 2 nice couples with a boat load of equipment and supplies for a Labor Day outing on Kingsmere Lake.  One of the couples were obviously a bodybuilding pair.  The wife had placed 2nd in the 2010 Canadian Provincial Finals and the husband was also nationally ranked.  The other lady was a writer who had just published a book entitled "The Saskatchewan Secret: Folk Healers, Diviners and Mystics of the Prairie".  Here's a link to her website:

What a wonderful experience talking to these folks while enjoying a beautiful day along a river in the boreal forest of Canada!

I got back on my bike and cycled back encountering this cow elk along the way.

I made the turn off of the Kingsmere Road onto the Red Deer Trail that led to the Kapasiwin Bungalows.

What a Wonderful Day 2 in Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan Canada. 

Stay tuned for pics, commentary and videos of Day 3 and Day 4 in PANP.

On Day 3, I had a run-in with a Polar Bear and a Close Encounter with Alien Beings.... Naaaah! Just Kidding... but I did ride another 40 miles on my bicycle and hike another 4 miles on the southern edge of Waskesiu Lake on the Narrows Road... in a 45 degF rain all day long....

So pull up this same blog post in a couple of days and you'll see the rest of this incredible adventure in Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan Canada..... it's all a part of the continuing lifetime adventure of.....

Discovering America the World on 2 Wheels!

I'm back! It's Saturday, 09/11/10 (Wow! It's kinda scary to write that) and I'm sitting here in the Denver International Airport awaiting my connecting flight that will get me back home from my latest work assignment in Saskatoon Saskatchewan. I have some time so I'm gonna post a few more pics from Day 3 of my hike and bike adventure in Prince Albert National Park.... so without further adieu but with a lot of precipitation, let's see what happened on Day 3.


I woke up on Day 3 to a cold drizzle and suited up accordingly... I mean this is a significant thing... some folks, with previous plans to enjoy a day of adventure, will wake up to a 45 degF rainy morning and decide to just roll over and go back to sleep.... and they'll miss a Great Day spent Outdoors!

One of the things that happens on the first day of a colder change in weather is that wildlife is much more active because they need to forage and eat to adjust to the cooler environment... the 2nd thing is that things look different.... there's less light, colors are more subdued and saturated.... sometimes mist and fog appears.... it's different.... and beautiful in it's own way.

I hope you'll see this in the pictures that follow....

So it was cold and rainy (more like misty) so what's step 1?

Fix a Good Breakfast! I'm talking Pork Chops and Eggs and lots of iron skillet grilled vegetables w/ some wedges of apple thrown in.... this is gonna give me plenty of well balanced nutritional calories to go on for 4 - 6 hours...Mmmmmm Good!

Step 2 is Suit Up for the Conditions!

 I mean - come on - if it's falling a flood I ain't going out there either cause it's not safe.... but in this sort of slow drizzle it's just a matter of suiting up for a 45 degF slow drizzle .... which is what I did here!

You 'member I was telling you about the wildlife being more active on this type of day?  Well... first rattle out of the box I get out on the road and I see this big ole boy laying up on the ledge above the road with his harem of cows around him.... this is a 7x7 bull.... a royal bull elk....Wow!

I rode back through the town of Waskesiu and had just exited the town on the west side where 263 skirts Waskesiu Lake on a climbing turn when I spooked a Bald Eagle off a lakeside perch and snapped this shop as he sailed across the lake.... now tell me that wasn't worth getting up and out for!

I cycled past the trailhead for the Kingfisher Trail.  It's a 13 km (approx 8 mile) loop that leads you along the southern edge of Waskesiu Lake before returning through the woods to Red Wing Bay.

I took a right off 263 onto Narrows Road....

I was glad I had a bike with 700 x 35 cyclocross type tires and fenders on it as I began a long run up the muddy Narrows Road -

I began to soak up some more of the roadside lakes and flooded meadows....

I turned into one of the many Lakeside Picnic Areas - South Bay Picnic Area before....

... entering the Mud Creek Trail - this is an Interpretive Trail that forms a 2 km (1.2 mile) loop. It skirts Waskesiu Lake and then follows Mud Creek with views of an active beaver lodge and dam.... so come on let's take a rainy day hike on Prince Albert National Park's Mud Creek Trail....

I exited the trail and marveled once again at the way the park has provided for groups of folks to stay warm and enjoy the beauties of  Waskesiu Lake by providing this lakeside seating area surrounding a fire ring.  Up here people adjust to the elements and get out and enjoy the outdoors!

I got back out on Narrows Road and next stopped at a place in the road where the road and Waskesiu Lake literally meet.

Next stop is Ice Push Ridge... a place where you can learn about how ice and wind continue to define and shape the shoreline of Waskesiu Lake....

You can see behind me where a 4 - 5' ridge has built up along the shoreline as a result of the effects of the elements.

Next stop is Trippes Beach... another lakeside picnic area with nice shelters and woodburning stoves!

Back out on Narrows Road I spooked a couple of whitetail does that make a speedy escape across the road in front of me....

I finally got all the way to the end of Narrows Road to the Narrows Marina.... it's called the Narrows because peninsulas from the north and south side of Waskesiu Lake jut out into the lake to create a 200 yard gap between the shores, the narrowest part of the lake.  This is one of 2 smaller marinas - Narrows and Hanging Hearts Lake - in addition to the main Waskesiu Marina that is run by a concession company within the boundaries of Prince Albert National Park... the smaller marinas would close on Labor Day.

You can see the Narrows in this pic in the background beyond my bike.

I stopped in at the Marina Store and the manager fixed me a nice strong cup of coffee... I sat and talked with him while eating my lunch. 

After lunch I rode back up the road a couple of hundred yards and hit my final trail of the day.... the Treebeard Trail.  It's a short 1.2 km (0.75 mile) loop with a steep, winding trail through a white spruce and balsam fir forest.  The trees along this path are among the oldest and largest in the park.  This is also an interpretive trail with numbered stations and a brochure that explains many of the aspects of the composition, flora and fauna of this section of the park.

After leaving the Treebeard Trail, I headed back on the Narrows Road and encountered this young bull elk feeding on the side of the road..... it was fun racing him down the road.... but it was no contest... I was doing about 20 mph and this dude left me in the dust.... or should I say .... mud!

It was starting to rain harder now and I only made one stop on the way back at one of the picnic areas and saw this adventurous pair out fishing out on the lake.... I'm telling you... these Canadians are tough!

Thus ended a wonderful rainy 3rd day in Prince Albert National Park... a day filled with drizzling rain, wildlife, beautiful trails and varying terrain.... I loved this place!

Day 4 dawned with the same drizzling rain and I had to get everything packed up and loaded and check out of my lodging before 11 am, but I still made time to do a short drive up the Kingsmere Road where I saw many beautiful elk....

Before leaving the Kapasiwin Bungalows

and the incredible adventure of exploring Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan Canada.

I returned to Saskatoon and awoke the next day to a beautiful sunrise over the Saskatoon River -

I really enjoyed my experience in Canada and felt lucky and fortunate to have been there.  It's a perfect example of using a work assignment in a new location as an opportunity to experience the culture, food and scenery of a new place.... in this case.... another country.

You see.... Discovery is not just an activity... it's an attitude... you have to keep an open mind to new things and new people and seize every opportunity to expand your horizons.... I mean look at this blog for example... it started as

Discovering America on 2 Wheels

and now maybe I need to change the name to

Discovering the World on 2 Wheels!