Leaving Winnipeg is the start of entering more interesting countryside than I have had in a while, the Prairies are behind me and the Canadian Shield is ahead. In general the hard part of the trip is now down… Or so I am told.
Winnipeg to Selkirk 03/07/2017
Its a short day today and a late start, I didn’t get out of the hostel till 12:00 as everyone wanted to chat before I headed off, I have had a great time here but it time to move on… I’m getting twitchy to see somewhere new.
The majority of the day seemed to have been through urban back streets while working my way out of Winnipeg and heading north, even when out of the urban sprawl it was generally still quite populated as I followed the general heading of the Red River in a north easterly direction. I stopped of at an A&W (burger place) for some lunch then motored on. Although I was following the river it wasn’t possible to see it most the way as the big houses, presumably city workers, cluster around its banks.
Eventually the river came into view and I was greeted by a rather large bridge. Now bridges are a bit of an obstacle over here as you can often go from having a lane to yourself to being forced into the traffic. the drivers are great and give space and time but at the same time they are trying to get somewhere and on a 100m bridge I can imagine get frustrated with damn cyclists!
After pushing the pace over the bridge I turned onto the river road and followed marvelled at the size of it. It also turns out the bridge was also a dam and the local fisherman take advantage of the fish in the fast flowing water resulting from this, as do the pelicans.
I followed the road up and into Selkirk, I had planned to go further but I had also planned to leave at 09:00, so I found the local camp ground (most larger towns seem to have them) and set up for the night. Dinner was the normal concoction of lentils, split peas, pearl barley and quinoa with onion and as todays mystery meat I added corned beef I had been carrying for a while… just as a note, don’t add corned beef to the concoction if you have any problem with the looks of food its not pretty but does the job!
Selkirk to Victoria Beach 04/07/2017
I had an interesting start to the day with a lightning storm coming in over night, I never really like being out in these but am slowly getting used to them and actually found it quite a nice experience, huddled up in my sleeping bag, my amazing little tepee not even moving in the high wind. At about 11am the storm passed so I was up, packed and on the road by 12:00, I had to make better distance today but made a bit of a mistake… I tried to follow the Trans Canada Trail…. after the rain the trails were wet so it was slow going then the Trail tried to take me down a trail were my bike just sunk. the wheels sinking about 1cm into the mud and I couldn’t move, I had to haul the bike back to the main trail and find another way round, after cycling for a few mins on the not quite so soft ground I was hauled up again, apparently the ground was clay round here and the mud stuck on the wheels had clogged up the chain and front derailleur. After clearing this off I checked the maps and found a new way round on more major roads… at least its a tarmac road and major is a relative term.
At about the 60km mark I saw a beautiful site…. a hill!! In fact there were 3 of them and the smile returned to my face. After the hills I came to a motel and decided to spend a night there as I got into the room a huge storm came in and I sat on the veranda watching the lightning crackle over hear!
I ate in the attached bar and ended up chatting to all the locals, they don’t get many Brits up this way so I was even more of a novelty than normal.
Victoria Beach 05/07/2017
Drank to much, not feeling good, staying here, nuff said.
Victoria Beach to Otter Falls 06/07/2017
I have recovered and after a remarkably good nights sleep I am fresh and raring to go, today I will mainly be following Winnipeg River south east, passing through First Nation Reserves and near a number of places with Falls in there name, should be good! The day will be mostly gentle up hill with an elevation gain of about 100m so quite gentle.
As I entered the Sagkeeng First Nation Reserve and Fort Alexander was how well maintained the properties and grounds were compared to some of the other reserves I have passed through, I unfortunately didn’t stop to explore as its only a small place really.
Heading south I came to Powerview Pine Falls, with a name like that I was hoping for some big waterfall only to find a hydroelectric dam, this is kinda the story of the rest of the day; if it said falls in the name then it was a while ago and was either underwater or a dam. I always find this kind of sad but as humans we seem to need a lot of energy and something has to give somewhere to provide this.
Where possible through the day I took breaks at the lakes to admire the view and rest by behind, I no-longer feel broken each day but being in a saddle for 4-5hrs at a time still leaves the bum numb at times so a good stretch and rest is always welcome.
By early afternoon I had got to my planned campground at Whitemouth Falls Provincial Park only to find that not only was it not a campground it was actually enforced non-camping due to it being an important area for the Great Grey Owl or something. Bugger. O well, it still gave me a rest break (at this point I had covered 100km) and the chance to watch the pelicans in the river, I never seem to get tired of watching these giant birds!
Back on the bike I checked the local motel and there was no room, seems I am now in a tourist area in tourist season, was bound to happen at some point I guess! This meant that I then had a 20k cycle to down little windy roads that would have been far prettier if they were better maintained and I wasn’t thinking where I was going to sleep. Thankfully I found a camp ground and they had a spot perfect for me right down by the lake at Otter Falls (again no water falls!) For those still vaguely interested in dinner it was the same as before but with some smoked sausages thrown into the mix, will have the others for breakfast in the morning.
Otter Falls to West Hawk Lake (07/07/2017)
Sausages for breakfast as promised, although already cooked they aren’t particularly nice cold!
Today is my last full day in Manitoba, tomorrow I cross into Ontario. I must say the roads on this section were quite poor with the surface being either broken or just bumpy, also they are narrower than other area’s, no wider than British roads, its also quite twisty where it heads south through the park. Another concern is that is bear country so I have to keep my eyes pealed and with narrow twisty, rural roads this can cause some problems but no sign of bears today, I haven’t seen any since Lake Louise which in some ways is a real shame.
This area is still littered with tourist houses and supplies were plentiful along the way and I took advantage of this due to the heat, preserving my water and buying drinks. Not very clever on the wallet but…
After about 60km I re-joined the Trans Canada Highway, now called Highway 44 and followed this into the lake resort town of West Hawk Lake, its a small place but obviously very touristy due to the lake and the white sand beach’s, I couldn’t find any signs or info on campgrounds and was suffering a bit from the heat so ended up staying in the motel which had air conditioning, nice…..
West Hawk Lake to Kenora (08/07/2017)
Today I cross into another province, Ontario… and its a big one… everyone I have chatted to mentions the fact that it takes 2 days to drive so god knows by bike!
So a short 60km jaunt from West Hawk Lake takes you to Kenora, to do this I have to follow the main road all day which I am not thrilled about but there is no other choice in this area, there is only one road! The road is remarkably quiet considering everything and there are hills! Not the big beasties of the Rockies but short and sharp climbs. This made my day to be honest, the prairies had tested my will power and now I was back to enjoying the cycling, YAY! Also there were big lakes and such to keep me even more interested.
I was having a hungry day so spent most of the trip searching out somewhere to eat, at about 12:00 I found somewhere that accepted cards (I had used all my cash at the pub a few days before!) and got some food and drink.
Coming into Kenora I followed the bike path signs rather than just following the road and got lost… but I got to see all the back roads before entering the town, first impressions say its quite nice if not small. It seems like a gateway town to the Lake of the Woods which is huge. The lake is 68 miles long (at the longest point) and 59miles wide (again at the longest point) with 65,000 miles of coastline and 14,552 islands! A lot of the islands seem to have private homes on too. But more of that next time! Stay tuned!