There seem to be a few people out there after my last post, although I have had low moral it doesn’t mean I am not still enjoying it in an odd kinda way, don’t ask me to explain I can’t.
I stayed in Dauphin a couple of nights to recover my energy…. the town wasn’t up to much from what I could see but maybe I missed something, then again maybe not!
Dauphin to Whirlpool Lake (24/06/2017)
I finally decided to head towards Riding Mountain National Park, I decided I needed hills to improve my mood, and I mighty glad I did!
I started by heading directly south from Dauphin and within 10km the climbing proper started and my smile returned. I was now back in bear country too so had to keep my eyes and ears open for them, Riding Mountain is supposed to have the highest concentration of black bears (colloquially called cinnamon bears as they can be any colour from almost blond to black) anywhere in north America… unsurprisingly I didn’t see any.
The trail gradually rose until I reached about 700m above sea level, I was surrounded by trees but it was a nice change to the seemingly endless expanse of the prairies. for the next 40km cycled pleasantly undulating roads before seeing signs for my destination for the day, Wasagaming. Upon entering the town I started to reconsider, the place was a full blown tourist trap! I went to the National Park office and had a chat and they advised me that there was a campground in town but that is was the type that mainly caters to RV’s, and can be a bit busy but that 15km east of the town was a rural campsite that is for “tenting” only and probably more to my liking. Heeding this advice I had a little cycle through the town, got lost, got found and headed up “highway” 19 which is actually a gravel road.
…or sometimes mud
After 15km I got to the campsite and found it had no running water, not a problem as I tend to carry a few litres spare in case of such things and a filter bottle for drinking from. The campsite was nice and extremely friendly, within half an hour I was chatting with my neighbours for the night. After we had gone our separate ways to eat they were all back for a pleasant evening round my camp fire until about 01:30! To be honest I think they just couldn’t get a fire going themselves 😉
Whirlpool Lake to Neepawa (25/06/2017 (my Birthday!))
After the late night it was difficult to get up and once I was it was a sociable morning again so I didn’t get going till nearly 13:00… But its my Birthday so what’s the rush!
I had hoped to make Winnipeg today but after looking at a map I thought that was a ridiculous ambition, I wouldn’t even make Portage Le Prairie! It didn’t really matter I just wanted to get to the nearest town and find somewhere for a nice dinner and a comfortable bed to sleep in.
I continued east on the gravel road and after about 15km started to descend, over the next 10km I descended back down to 300m on an amazingly fun decent, gravel skipping out from under my tires and the back end kicking out on occasion and having to be wrestled back in line while traveling 60kph.
After the fun it was back on the flat, 10km of gravel grinding then heading south on the slightly busy Highway 5 down to Neepawa, unfortunately there wasn’t a posh hotel so I went to a motel, and it being Sunday most of the restaurants in town were closed apart from the likes of McDonalds so I ended up with 2x double quarter-pounders, super size chips (or fries as they call them!) and a supersize milkshake #livingthedream!
Neepawa to Portage Le Prairie (26/06/2017)
I was feeling sluggish today, I hadn’t slept well at the motel for some reason, probably the McDonalds! So much so that I left the hotel at about 11am, which is quite a late start for me… then I straight for Timmys for breakfast and a coffee…
When I eventually got going I was heading directly east, following Highway 16, it doesn’t seem to take long after getting out of towns for the traffic to start to tail off although this particular road seemed to be quite busy as it joins highway 1 ( For the Brits reading this it is the Canadian equivalent of the M1 but is only 2 lanes wide and holds a fraction of the traffic… and tends to be open and smooth flowing!)
As I approached Gladstone at approximately 40km I was flagging, I just felt like I had no energy but I kept on plodding past very tempting motels. The landscape in this are farmland but interspersed with more trees so its not quite as dull as Saskatchewan had been.
After another 40km my route took we onto Highway 1, there was no avoiding it for 10km, at the first opportunity I took the road to the south. At this point it should be noted that when I say road that is a very… very loose term, it was hard-pack mud at best but good fun to find the easiest route on it!
This took me via the back roads to Portage Spillway provincial park where I hoped to camp for the night, after all provincial parks all have campsites right??? Apparently not! But it did have pelicans which I sat and watched for a while before heading into town and getting a belated plush hotel for the night.
Portage Le Prairie to Winnipeg (27/06/2017)
After checking out the route on a map the night before I knew it was going to be quite grim as I would be following Highway 1 till Winnipeg… erg
After another Timmies breakfast I just plugged in my headphones and got to it, no point procrastinating. Although its good to hear what is going on around you on the highways I find that the sound of vehicles traveling at about 110kph is slightly disnerving even if I have nearly 10m between me and them. I cant really say much about most the journey as it was all just highway, although I did stop for a pallet of strawberries at a roadside fruit sellers. They were on the other carriageway which made it interesting to get to but as I say the roads aren’t too bad out here.
Not far from Winnipeg I managed to get onto the backroads and use more minor roads and trails to enter the city itself. My navigation (as ever) was poor in the city and it took me a while to work my way through the maze of roads to the hostel. A couple of things I noted about Winnipeg on the way through was that it was busier than anywhere I had been since probably Vancouver, and inevitably due to that it seemed less friendly than I have experienced so far in Canada.
O I haven’t noted so far that I had headwinds all day that had slowed me down meaning that I had arrived over two hours late to the hostel to some slightly worried staff. I spent the evening in the normal way of eating and chatting to the other residents and generally chilling out.