This past weekend turned out to be exactly what I wanted. I was so bummed when Monday rolled around, but I'm excited for the opportunity to head back to the park soon.
We spent Friday night getting packed up for camping (which was interesting since Bub can't lift anything over 20lbs right now) and then on the couch catching up on some of our PVR'd shows.
Saturday we were up and out of the house by 8am. After a quick stop for gas and Timmy's we were on the road. We made really good time and were in the park by 10am. The weather was gorgeous (it was sunny and 19 degrees) and the girls were anxious to get out of the car....
...so while I went in to the information center for a park map, Bub took them on a little walk. Then we headed to Tea Lake to set up camp.
I'm not a fan of Tea Lake because it's really meant for transient campers who need a place to stay before heading into the interior via canoe or one of the backpacking trails, and therefore affords little privacy and very small sites. However, for us for one night this weekend it was fine. We didn't have much choice because only 3 campgrounds were open, the others remaining closed until the middle of May. Luckily it wasn't busy so even though that site was pretty open, we weren't on top of our neighbours. We were however right on the water, which I was of course very happy about.
We got camp set up in no time so we headed back out to start hiking. On the way, we drove right past a "lady moose" eating right at the side of the road. By the time I realized she was there, it was too late to stop anywhere safely to get some pictures, but she was definitely there and very content to watch the traffic go by.
Our first stop was Mew Lake to buy some firewood and so that I could show Bubba the waterfall and rapids my family used to visit and play in when I was a kid camping in the park. I was a little worried I wouldn't be able to find them since they're not marked, but with luck I picked the right trail head and only a few minutes deep into the bush I could hear the water, so we basically walked right to it.
We had planned to eat our lunch at this spot, but there was a group of backpackers already set up there (it's at the start of a 3 day backpacking trail) and I didn't feel like sharing the space with them, so we took a few pictures, enjoyed the scenery and then headed back out to the car to hit up a few different trails.
Clearly we weren't the only ones having lunch of the bluff that day. Oh the circle of life... how cruel mother nature can be.
We also very obviously were following closely behind a herd of deer as well since every 50 or so feet, we had to step around giant piles fresh of you know what. Lovely.
Then we headed to Big Pines Trail, which is a 3km loop that takes you through an amazing old growth pine forest. The trees were seriously HUGE:
It was a really gorgeous trail.
Our last hiking stop of the day was Peck Lake Trail which is another 2km loop that takes you around the shores of- you gueses it- Peck Lake. This was probably my favorite of the day. Any trail that leads you to, or around water is always a win for me. We were lucky enough to see this guy hanging out in the lake for most of our hike:
You can't tell from the pictures, but we were actually able to get pretty close to him in a cove until he dove and came back up in the middle of the lake. It's times like these that I wish I had a decent camera rather than my simple point and shoot.
We, unfortunately, ran into another dog who was quite vocal about wanting to meet our girls (who had no interest in stopping for him) and I'm quite certain it was his loud barking that effectively ruined our chances of seeing any more wildlife on this particular trail. Regardless of that, it was a very nice walk.
We had to keep to the easy trails because Bub's back and shoulder are still bugging him and after 7kms of hiking and probably another 1 or 2kms in walks at Mew Lake and at the gate when we arrived, it was time to call it a day before he started getting sore. Jenny and Lola were done too- I can always tell because instead of sniffing and exploring, they stick right to my heels and continually look up at me as if to say "okay Mum, it was fun while it lasted, but we're done now".
We headed back to the campsite for the evening after stopping the (closed) Portage Store. I laid down a few towels and gave the girls a busy bone each, but Lola didn't even touch hers before she was fast asleep. Jenny made it about 1/2 way through her bone and then zonked our herself. There's something very satisfying about seeing a dog who is so tired from a day you know they enjoyed so much.
So, while they slept, Bub and I set up fordinner and the fire and then played a few games of cards. The day was still abosultely gorgeous and we were both comfortable in our shorts and tee-shirts.
Dinner was bacon wrapped steak medallions with potato and ceasar salad! So yummy. I, as the dummy I am, forgot to bring soap, so we rinsed our hands and dishes in lake, making clean-up a breeze. We played a final game of cards and then took the dogs on another walk around the campsite. Although this may sound crazy, it was solely for the purpose of letting the dogs strectch their legs and do their business as they had to be kept on leashes since we were so close to the (campground) road at our site- we were basically ON the road actually.
Now, those that know me know that I am a complete tea addict. I was sure to get an extra-large a Timmy's Saturday morning to get me through the day (and so I could get the extra tea bag), but by 7pm I was really craving a tea.
We grabbed the girls and sat on a the rock at the water for a bit watching the sun go down and as it got dark, we started putting on more clothes a layer at a time and Bub got the fire going. We parked our butts in front of it and didn't move for the rest of the evening. We busted out the treats at this point (chocolate bars and chips) and by the time those were done, I didn't even want a marshmellow!
By this point it was pretty cold, so we had to make sure that the girls were comfortable. Lola was up on my lap under the blanket and we made Jenny a puppy burrito in her fleece blanket on the ground.
Even that wasn't enough for her eventually and she got up with Bub. Eventually I cold feel the cold setting in an knew that it was time to go to bed so that the cold didn't hit my bones and last all night. The girls came with me while Bub stayed out with the fire until it died.
We made it through the night pretty toasty with a sleeping bag, a duvet and a comforter and I slept fairly well actually. Early Sunday morning we were up and out for a drive to look for Moose. Unfortunately we didn't see any and I was pretty disappointed thinking that I didn't have the opportunity to take any pics of the one moose we did see. We did see 2 wild turkeys which freaked Bub right out given his fear of birds. They don't get much bigger or uglier than that. We went back to the campsite, had quick breakfast and then packed up. It was absolutely freezing and we were anxious to get going and out of the biting wind.
On the way out, this is what we saw!!!!
...a Mama and her yearling getting a salt fix at this bog off the highway. I was happy to finally see them and have the opportunity to get some photos. I hopped out and got a few shots, but Mama wasn't overly imppressed at my being there. She was definitely keeping an eye on me. We spent a couple of minutes with them but then a van and motorcycle pulled up and Mama sent the babe into the bush, so we left.
We made it home and after unloading the car and getting the back grass cut and the yard poop scooped, we made our favorite weekend lunch and watched Bull Run (GO HEMI-CUDA!!). I had a nice bath and read my book and then migrated to the bed where I napped and read for the rest of the afternoon. It was heaven. Bub had a work thing for dinner so I made a chicken breast and ceasar salad and watched Avatar and then went to bed early.
I don't know what to say about my dogs though because they're still exhausted. They slept all the way home from the park and ALL DAY yesterday. I even had hard time getting them out of bed this morning. They're totally beat from the all the fresh air and hiking... poor babies.
The whole weekend was fantastic. No exams looming over my head, great weather, the chance to read, the chance to be outside.... it was awesome.