Sunday, August 20, 2017

What I Did for my Summer Vacation - the 2017 Edition - Part Two

Day Three - Monday, 14 August 2017

After our long ride out to Sturgeon Lookout (see Part One). We loaded up and drove around the south end of Prince Albert National Park and then North again to get to Waskesiu. 

We stopped at the Visitor Information Centre to get some better maps and check on where we could park when riding certain trails I thought we might get to ride, but found out they no longer provide maps and a couple of the trails I thought we'd get to ride are "closed". 

We went and found the cabin we had booked for the next few days and unloaded. We were a little disappointed that the cabins that the website indicated had HBO and wifi had neither!? I wasn't that upset about the HBO - I don't have it at home, so... but it might have been fun to catch an episode of... something!? Maybe the latest episode of Game of Thrones (not that I've seen any of the other episodes of Season 7...) I don't even know what would have been on - because we had no wifi to check...

Out home for the next few days.

Day Four - Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Bu the next morning we did eventually get some wifi, but it was spotty and unbelievably slow - at best...

We decided to check out a few of the trails immediately around Waskesiu - so we wouldn't have to load up the bikes into the van and drive anywhere. In the immediate vicinity were the Red Deer Trail Network and Fisher Trail 

This map is © 2017 Parks Canada - I have used it here without their permission for the purposes of showing where I was. The map can be found at

Our cabin was basically right on the Blue Loop, along the section where it was closest to the lake, just south of the little grey road shown branching off the Kingsmere road. 

To start with we rolled out of the cabin and down part of the Blue loop to meet up with the Yellow Loop which would take us downtown to scout things out at bit before carrying on along the Yellow Loop to where it meets up with the Blue Loop again North East of town and ride the Blue Loop around and back to our cabin for Lunch. WE figured in the afternoon we'd do Fisher Trail and the Red Loop and worry about what we were going to do tomorrow later. 

A good chunk of the blue/green loop that parallels the lake on the west side of the trails is actually the OLD Kingsmere Road that has been closed to motor vehicle traffic and is now for the use of pedestrians and cyclists to get downtown from the more distant campgrounds and cabins.

The long straight paved road that took us right into town!

At one point the blue and Yellow loops split and part of the yellow loop heads in closer to the water - part of it was paved, but mostly it was gravel.

The part that paralleled the water's edge was lined with cabins.

I have to say I was a little surprised to see how many bikes there were in Waskesiu! They were EVERYWHERE! And there seemed to be a lot of these pedal-cars about that I think could be rented by the hour.

It seemed every business had a bike rack in front of it and every rack had a pile of bikes on it! I think a lot of people bring them along to access town and the main beach from their more remote cabins and campsites. I think this is necessary because there just isn't that much parking downtown - and it's possible because there are separate bike/pedestrian trails and very little traffic on the roads.

Part of the yellow loop heading back out of town along this dubious trail behind some tennis courts. Were in not for the way finding signs I would not have thought this part of an established network and assumed it was just a popular shortcut.

Then it ran through along side the road leading out of town for a bit.

Crossing Highway 264 - which turns into the new Kingsmere Road.

Again, excellent way-finding signage everywhere.

Some info about Fisher Trail at a parking lot just off the highway.

The section of the Yellow Loop outside of town was nice and wide - and mostly grassed over. It doesn't look like it gets a LOT of use. I think these are ski trails in the winter.

Rolling along the Yellow Loop east of town.

Taking note of the points where Red and Yellow loops branch off and the trailhead for Fisher Trail

More of the Yellow loop.

And back across the highway.

Here the Yellow Loop and Blue Loop joined - and we went off onto the Blue Loop to head Northeast of town.

But before we got back out into the wilderness, blue loop ran along a section of the road that runs around the Beaver Glenn Campground.

Back into the bush (briefly).

Nice little rolls section between the Beaver Glenn Campground and the Kingsmere Road.

Back across the Kingsmere Road.

And then were were back onto some slightly more wilderness-y trails.

The trails were nice and wide, a bit more rolling, but none of the hills were too steep (well a few were steep enough to make my rear hub slip... but I'll try not to dwell on that...).

That's me...

In some spots there was a bit more of a trail worn into the grass, but it still doesn't seem to see a high volume of traffic - which is really too bad as the trails are beautiful.

Once we left town I  think we saw ONE other person out on these trails during this ride.

and then I came around a corner and we ran into a couple of Elk! There are all sorts of warning signs around town saying to keep your distance from the elk. So we waited for a bit hoping they'd move off...

But these two we obviously not feeling at all threatened by OUR presence and made no move to clear off.

So we hung out and watched them for a bit. The Girl was utterly THRILLED to see the Elk. I think she had said "OHMYGAWD! This is totally the highlight of the trip: seeing wildlife that doesn't want to EAT us!!" (She was very concerned about encountering bears and being attacked...)

 It wasn't until Amanda decided to get a bit closer with her camera that they decided to move off the trail.

And she did have to get quite close before they slowly moved off to the side of the trail.

And then we carried on.

as we got closer to the end of the end of the trail (can there really be an end in a LOOP? I guess the END for US - back at the cabin) there was a bit of a longer downhill.

Being smooth and wide, we could get some speed going!

Back across the Kingsmere Road again...

Me again. Crossing one of the Kingsmere Road sections - I think...? It splits for a bit around the Blue Loop

...down a short paved path...

...and back onto the OLD Kingsmere Road, which brought us back to our cabin for lunch.

It was really nice to have this cabin right on the trail - that we could just loop back to for lunch. We'd gotten going a bit late (after 10am) and loitered in town a lot and stopped a lot to just enjoy the scenery and take pictures and sometimes wait for The Girls to catch up - it was almost 2pm by the time we were having lunch.

Getting ready to set off again. We took a long lunch break and it was almost 3pm by the time we were setting out again.

The wind had picked up and it started to cloud over a bit so that cooled things off and the Grrrlz put on jackets to keep warm as we headed out to check out some more trails.

Stopping to adjust the rear hub... AGAIN!!

The section that Blue and Yellow loops share between Kingsmere Road and the Lake.

Of course a few minutes down the road/path they were taking OFF their jackets as they were getting TOO warm.

Bear poo. There was a LOT of it around - we saw far more than we saw the previous year in Banff and Jasper! But unlike Jasper and Banff we saw hardly anyone carrying bear spray (mind you - outside of the actual town, beach, and campsites, we saw hardly anyone at all, so....). There were a few signs around warning of bears in the area. We still have the bear spray we picked up last year, so we carried it...

Entering Fisher Trail.

On to Fisher Trail!

Fisher Trail is absolutely gorgeous.

it's narrower than the Red Deer Loops and rooty and rocky enough to feel like you couldn't ride your road bike down the trail, but not so technical that you couldn't enjoy the scenery.

It seemed mostly flat with a few little mounds here and there.

Amanda just fell in love with the trail and could honestly have just ridden round and round and round it again for the rest of our trip.

Trees and moss.

Goof on a bike.

WE actually encountered two other cyclists on this trail - a father (on a FAT bike) and son (on a BMX).

More trees and moss.

the forest definitely had amore boreal feel to it than any of the other sections we'd ridden through so far.

I think I had read something on one of the signs that in 2001 the park service had started to remove a lot of the price from around Waskesiu in an effort to protect the townsite from potential wildfire as the spruce are much more flammable.

Happy Amanda.

It's incredible how close these trees can grow to each other in spots.

Trees, moss, Grrrlz.

Trees, moss, Grrrlz. Finnegan would have loved this trail too. I felt bad that we'd ditched him at D-Camp, which he wasn't super stoked about going to in the first place, and was really hoping he was having a good time...

and then, very suddenly, we were out of it an back into aspens and grassy trails. Just on the other side of the trees to the left ran highway 264 heading into Waskesiu - but they kept the trail just far enough into the trees that you couldn't really tell unless you knew it was there.

As we rode along this section it got even cloudier and cool and we were starting to wonder if we might get rained on!

The trail dipped back into the denser forest and after a bit of rolling bits we were treated to a longer bit of downhill - not like a DH  run requiring 8-inch-travel-rear-suspension or anything - just a fast twisty section that we got some speed on and didn't really have to pedal much.

I didn't really end up stopping at any point to take any pictures. Amanda and I often traded off leading and following with The Girl in the middle. When ever I stopped to let them catch up (and take a few pics) she'd take the lead for a bit until she stopped to take a picture and I'd pass on by and take the lead.

Amanda was leading when we got to the fast downhill section and she just did not stop. It was all I could do to keep up with her. So no photos.

Back along the old Kingsmere Road - got home just before it started to rain. It didn't rain a LOT this day, but it was enough to keep us indoors and not going out to ride any more trails.

Day Five - Wednesday, 16 August 2017

A chillier morning. Apparently The Girl thought it too much effort to put pants (or longer PJs) on and sat eating breakfast with her legs tucked into her fleece. Every evening the people who ran D-Camp posted a pile of pictures on their Facebook page of the campers, so every morning we checked to see if there were any with Finnegan. There were a few. He looked like he was having some fun!

The wind had really picked up over night and there was a pretty strong wind blowing in from the West across the lake. Amanda had hoped we'd go out  on a paddle boat or a canoe in the afternoon, but with the big waves rolling in that looked less appealing (secretly, I was pleased...).

Since we hadn't ridden the Red Loop yet, and we all really enjoyed Fisher Trail, (and all the trails I'd originally considered for today are now officially CLOSED and all the other trails would require loading the bikes into the van and driving for half an hour) we decided to just ride the Blue Loop - in reverse to get to Fisher Trail, ride Fisher again, and then ride the Red Loop and  then roll back to the cabin for a later lunch.

Blue Loop in reverse - climbing up that longer downhill bit (in the grand scheme of things it's really a rather short downhill... but relative to the rest of the fairly flatfish trail...).

No Elk today...

We only saw one the person on this section of the trail today - out jogging.

Even I started out the day with my wool flannel shirt on. I also wore some canvas short over my cycling shorts as the mosquitoes were biting my but through the cycling shorts all the previous day - I'd hoped this would help.

As we got back to Kingsmere road the Grrrlz were getting warm and took off their jackets.

The Girl was having troubles with her hydration pack, so we cut around the Beaver Glenn Campground and nipped back to the cabin to ditch it and take some water bottles instead.

Back on the Old Kingsmere Road on our way to Fisher Trail.

I think this was somewhere near the south end of Beaver Glenn Campground along the Yellow Loop.

And back onto Fisher Trail.

A happy Amanda.

Knowing what to expect, we rolled around the trail a bit faster this time.

Still lovely.

Goof on a bike again.

Back to the more open section.

Along that section there was a shortcut to the Red Deer Trail, but everyone wanted to go down the fast section again...

Some rolling terrain before the faster section.

Just about there.

and away we go!



A few rocks to roll over just before the end of the trail.
blerg boop.

Back at the Red Deer Trails finding our way to the Red Loop.

Snack Break!

the Red Loop - as with the other sections of the Red Deer Trail Network - was mostly wide and grassy over mostly gently rolling landscape through the trees.

There's the other end of that shortcut between the Red Loop and Fisher Trail.

Also, as elsewhere, lost of great way-finding posts.

Long, straight, fast rolling section!

The Grrrlz rolling down the long, straight, fast rolling section!

part of the Loop crossed one gravel trail and rolled along another one.

In the same area one side of the trail really opened up into a bit of a meadow.

Back off the road again.

Rolling open meadowy bits.

Random bench in the middle of nowhere.

The sun came out for most of the afternoon, but the wind was still pretty strong - though for the most part we were pretty sheltered from it by the trees.

Trees, grass, bikes, Grrrlz.

Whenever Amanda stopped to take a picture I tired to pose like I was going wicked fast as I passed her. I mostly just look like a goof. But I look like a goof anyway, so I thought I'd have a bit of fun.

I'm running out of things to say...

More of me being silly.

For a bit the trail was like a pretty clear border between the more open aspen forest and the denser darker spruce/boreal forest. The trail was probably part of the fire barrier road and marked where the spruce were cleared up to.


Up ahead it the lake finally - mostly washed out in this picture.

The lake.

The Lake. The Red loop turned to the right heading back towards town along the lake shore - an older trail continued off to the left, but I think it's "officially closed" and not maintained anymore as it's not marked on any of the current maps.

The route along the lake short took us through some wetlands and across some board walk. A few of the sections seemed like they were banked - sloping one way to roll around a curve, but then the next curve it was sloping in the wrong way - off camber - and the next section was broken and missing a few boards and I realized the slope was simply one side sinking into the wetland on a not-so-maintained boardwalk...

Amanda doing a little North Shore style riding... or.. maybe not-so-much...

Rolling along the lakeshore.

Then the trail popped up to the road - this is highway 263 (the "scenic route") which approached Waskesiu from the South.  I knew from studying the map that the trail met up with the road, but was surprised there were no way-finding posts to indicate this.

A little further along I figure out why - the trail we rolled up to the road had been an "unofficial" trail people were using as we found where the trail was supposed to join the road a little further up.

Rolling along the road... with no shoulder! Good thing there is so little traffic along here!

Soon the Red Loop pulled off the Highway and onto a side street into town.

Lots of big fancy cabins along here - and they all seem to have satellite TV dishes?!

The Red Loop took us right through a big parking lot and into the Waskesiu Golf Course?!

There was a myriad of different paths leading off into the golf course with golf buggies rolling this way and that - it was't always clear which way was part of the Red Loop and which ways lead to golf greens!

Apparently we weren't the only ones that found this confusing as there were a few additional way-finding signs - presumably put up by the golf course staff who were tired of having to redirect hikers and cyclists off their greens

There were a few of these between the golf course and downtown. It wasn't THAT steep - but steeper than any other sections of the Red Deer Trails, so...

The Nature Centre - we decided to stop back her after we wen back to the cabin for lunch.

big waves crashing against the breakwater.

Some of the fancier cabins closer to downtown.

More bikes parked around town.

After a late lunch we decided to head back downtown to visit the Nature Centre and the Museum and get some ice cream and let The Girl play at the beach a bit (as she'd been asking to).

Nature centre. I had no idea how TINY black bear cubs were and how long they took to get to adult size. I was also surprised but the size difference between the adult male and female Black Bears! The white silhouette is the adult male, the tan one next to is is an adult female!

Finishing off Ice Cream.

More bike parked about town.

The Friends of the Park Heritage Museum and Book Store. The "museum" was really just one room with a few knick-knacks from the history of Waskesiu. There was no one even in there as I looked through it. The Bookstore half was closed and there were no posted hours of operation. Perhaps they didn't have any people to staff it?

The Grrrlz briefly frolicked along the water's edge - but Amanda said it was much too cold to break out the bikini.

The Girl did play in the playground for a bit, but quickly got bored not having her brother or a friend to play WITH!

We stopped at this bakery and deli to pick up some more buns and juice and snacks for the evening. I don't think anyone actually even ate any of the stuff we picked up and we were all too full from the French fries, onion rings and ice cream we'd had as a "snack" earlier.

And MORE bikes!

One last quick roll back to the cabin for the evening.

It rained quite a bit this evening and there was a fair bit of lightening and thunder.

Day Six - Thursday, 17 August 2017

Another cold morning necessitating legs being tucked into tops. Everything was quite damp outside. Originally we were to pick up Finnegan at 2pm and I'd planned a morning ride for us. When we got to the campsite on Saturday they'd informed us that we now needed to pick Finnegan up at 10am!? As it turned out the trail I'd hoped to ride on the way out of the park is now closed... and after all that rain it certainly would have been a bit damp and muddy.

On our way back to Saskatoon we picked up Finnegan, who did indeed have a "pretty good time" - we were shocked by that high appraisal of the camp. He's usually very noncommittal about how things were - Amanda had joked and offered a bet that when we asked what he thought of it, he'd say "it was OKAY!" - a bet I was not willing to take knowing how he is (though I now wish I had!)

That's all for our 2017 Summer Vacation - I'm now back at home back to preparing for some major kitchen renovating coming up in the next few weeks, and Amanda is off to Seattle for a work conference.

The Trails in Prince Albert National Park may not be as extensive or technical as the trails we rode in last year in Jasper or Canmore... but I'm kind of okay with that... At this point in my life I'm totally happy rolling along nice easy trails where I can just relax a bit an enjoy the view - instead of being utterly focused on the 3-5m of trail directly in front of my bike. It's nice that PANP is also only two hours drive - rather than the EIGHT to Canmore. If we manage another vacation next year, I'd like to come back here - and bring Finnegan along! If he goes to D-Camp again next year (and he totally hasn't ruled that out!) we could take a family vacation together either immediately before or after D-Camp - to save at least one trip!

Hopefully I'll get out for a few rides with the kids over the next few weeks.