Thanksgiving is about being with family, friends and reminding ourselves of what we are thankful for and help focus our sights on what we already have, rather than on what we don’t have. This weekend, we (Chris and Scott) took our daughters on a bike-packing trip in the Prince Albert National Park to do just that!
October is such a perfect time to be outdoors. Fewer bugs, fewer people, and great temperatures makes for some very enjoyable outdoor adventures. Not to mention the fall colours (as one information sign descriptively put it, “birch and aspen, dappled in gold in Autumn”). And the forest did not disappoint!
We started our journey from the town of Waskesui. We loaded up the bikes with our tents, sleeping gear, food, cooking essentials and warm clothes and started biking down along the beach and then out of the town along the scenic highway 263. We couldn’t have asked for better weather! The sun was shining, and it was warm enough that shorts and t-shirts were all that we needed. We took the ride slow and easy to be sure the girls enjoyed it as much as possible. There were a few comments during the uphills about them dying, but for the most part the comments were positive! Especially when seeing grouse, fox and the many, many grey jays that encouraged us along the ride!
Along the way, we made sure to stop at the Height of Land tower of course! And what a time of year to be “on top of the world”, viewing the many different colours that surrounded us in the park and reading more about how our province varies widely all around us.
“Height-of-Land” in many areas of the country mean a high point or divide that was often crucial for trade, travel and commerce. In this case, the waters north of this tower flow to the Churchill River, and the waters south flow to the Saskatchewan River. From the top of the tower, we were 100 meters above the town of Waskesui and could see Shady Lake, Waskesui Lake as well as many landmarks. Coming here at night to see the stars is definitely now a bucket list item!
We arrived at Namekus Lake with plenty of time to pick out a perfect campsite and set up camp for the night. The girls immediately took to exploring the forest and beach around our site while we set up the tents, got the campfire going and cooked some dinner. Thanks to Peak Refuel for some incredibly tasty dinner options that kids love as well as adults! For bikepacking, everything has to be small and packable yet still as functional as full sized equipment. This means we used our lightweight Big Agnes tents, down filled blankets and sleeping bags, MSR Pocketrocket stove. In addition, we brought our MSR gravity fed water filtration system so that we could use the lake itself for water our cooking rather than haul it with us. The girls of course had to still bring treats, books, binoculars and more so we packed a bit heavier than maybe we could’ve done, but they enjoyed it all thoroughly.
Such as witling wood in the morning sunlight while breakfast is being made. A bit of information for all those screen-focused kids. Wood witling is what used to entertain us for hours on end when we were young. Sitting with a knife, a stick and simply carving it away with rarely any real purpose other than poking it into the dirt immediately afterwards! It’s mesmerizingly entertaining.
The ride home, after the girls sweated out the long, gravel road climb from the lake to the highway, was quite enjoyable. We did a bit of site-seeing, but mostly just rode directly back to the town. Of course, we did have to try out the quadricycles from the Grey Owl Center before we headed home! The girls still had energy to burn somehow…