Jordon has a good post on hiking the Spruce River Highlands Trail in Prince Albert National Park.
16 years ago today Mark was born. Today we are celebrating another time the earth has circled the sun and Mark hasn’t been tossed off.
For his birthday, we gave him a new hiking backpack.
and a pair of Pentax UP 8×21 black binoculars.
They are the same kind that the boys got me for Mother’s Day and are perfect for hiking and a a Victorinox Swiss Army Spartan knife.
and a pair of Sennheiser HD 202 II headphones.
We also got him a front pocket wallet from Cabelas. Jordon has one and loves it and so we got Mark one.
After work today, we are taking him to Mr. Mikes Steakhouse Casual and then this Sunday, we are taking both Oliver and Marley for their first long hike in Prince Albert National Park to the Spruce River Highlands. It is going to be a 8.5 km hike into the backcountry and back near Anglin Lake. Hopefully we make it back in one piece.
Back in the day turning 16 meant that you could get your drivers license. Mark is in drivers education this year and under new rules, he has to pass his drivers education and then have a clean drivers record for 9 months and then he gets his driver’s license. I guess that mean’s that the sidewalks are safe for another couple of months.
Happy Mother’s Day! Hopefully your day is a good one and your kids treated you well.
I was woken up with the boys bringing me up some Mother’s Day gifts. Oliver had made me a card and a gift at school. The gift was a picture of him holding a sign that said, “Happy Mother’s Day” on it. It was a great job by him and his teacher.
The boys got me a pink pair of Pentax 8×21 U-Series UP Binoculars.
They are compact but of high quality and will be great to take hiking with us this summer. They also come with a lifetime warranty. I’m pretty excited by them. Oh yeah, they are super cute and pink!
They also gave me some double sided Wendy Cooper business cards.
There were some packages of Fujifilm Instax film and a Fuji Instax album. It wasn’t just any film but Air Mail and cartoon themed film. All of it was cool.
I am always intimidated to print out my photos. Jordon gave me a Itoya 11×14 portfolio which will force me to not only take some great photos but edit them and print them. Luckily I know of just the place.
For brunch, the kids took me to Smiley’s Buffet for brunch at 10:00 a.m. It was quiet when we got there and insane as we were leaving. Luckily we went early and got a spot (they don’t reservations for groups under 8).
I was kind of difficult when coming up with some Mother’s Day ideas to do and so Jordon just said fine, “I’ll plan something.” He had the kids pack their bags and place them in the car. After brunch were done, we got in the Ford Focus and hit the road. He drove us to Prince Albert National Park where we wandered into the Parks Canada office and bought a Discovery Pass that is good for all National Parks and National Historic Sites from now until May 2018. Jordon was giddy with it as he has wanted a Parks pass since he was a kid. They never had the money for it growing up and we got too busy when were adults but he was so happy purchasing it. He also got me a nice Parks Canada t-shirt.
We also took some time to try out the Parks Canada Red Chairs…
The first couple of many I hope to enjoy this summer. We also went for a walk around Waskesiu. Despite being before the long weekend, quite a few places were open.
All in all, it was a pretty great Mother’s Day. Thanks everyone for making it special.
With the boys off of school, I decided to take the week off of work and spend it with them.
On Wednesday Jordon told the boys to get their go-bags and get into the car. We then went to Don’s Photo where Jordon ran in and bought a Ricoh WG-4 camera to replace his WG-10 and then we went north to Waskesiu for the day.
We knew it would be sloppy and a mess so we tooled around a bit and then took Highway #263 to the Height of Land Lookout Tower. At the top of the 15 metre tower you are 100 metres higher than Waskesiu; you can see King Island, Shady Lake and Beartrap Creek.
Once navigating the nightmare that is the rest of that highway to Highway #2, we were back in Prince Albert and then home.
Prince Albert National Park is so gorgeous and quiet this time of year. Without leaves or more than a handful of people in the park, it is an amazing time to visit.
So Jordon and I were having this casual conversation about this summer and he said, “both of us need to start getting in better shape”. I just glared at him and was silent. I had hoped he would see the disgust and anger in my eyes and move on but he was right. Both of us need to get in better shape for some of these hikes we have planned.
I am taking the week after Easter off of work to spend some time with the kids. Part of that will be walking miles of the Meewasin trail system as I work back some cardio and get back in shape. The plan is to walk from home, down through always pleasant Caswell Hill and Riversdale and along Victoria Park until I get to the Grand Trunk Train Bridge. Then I will walk along the east side of the river through Exhibition Park, Saskatchewan Crescent, the University of Saskatchewan until I get to the CP Rail Bridge where then I will walk (crawl) up 33rd Street until I get home. I plan to do that every day and I will be cursing Jordon each and every step of it.
Our first short hike will be in the hills around Fort Carlton on Mother’s Day. Then a couple weeks later we are doing the Spruce River Highlands Trail in Prince Albert National Park. A couple of weeks after that, we are walking 40 kms to Grey Owl’s Cabin and back. In July we are doing several hikes in the Rocky Mountains. It’s coming sooner than I want to think about.
So today Jordon and I went out to Atmosphere and Sport Chek to see what I needed to be comfortable this summer. In the end I bought a pair of spandex tights and some shorts and I figured out what kind of shirts I need to get. While we were out, we picked Jordon up a lightweight rain jacket that is light enough to easily pack in a day pack. Once Mark decides what color he wants to get, we’ll get him one as well.
Later in the day Jordon got me some scrubs which will be fine for lounging around the fire or chilling out in the campground when it cools down at night. He also got Mark some wind pants in case the weather is bad while we are there. If you don’t like the weather in Alberta, wait five minutes and it will change. Of course that goes both ways.
We have most of what we need. Other than a Therm-a-rest for myself, we are set for all of the big items. Basically it is just the small stuff and getting into better shape is all I need to focus on.
On Sunday, Jordon and I decided to take the boys (and dog) for one last hike. We checked the weather and it said that Waskesiu would be about 6 degrees above zero so we decided to go for it. I don’t think it ever got that warm but it was nice enough to hike and explore the Kingsmere Lake Trail which goes between the north part of Waskesiu Lake to Kingsmere Lake.
As you start, you go 500m down the trail towards Grey Owl’s cabin until you come to a long flight of stairs to the stream below. After crossing a bridge you follow the portage rail track until you get to the Southend Campground before heading back. It wasn’t the longest hike but it was a nice way to end the season and the boys had a great time exploring one more trail in Prince Albert National Park.
For those of you who noticed the ridiculous socks that Jordon is wearing, they are compression socks and are supposed to help his leg heal. For the record, they aren’t working.
On Thanksgiving Weekend Jordon, Mark, Oliver, Marley and I went up to Prince Albert National Park and hiked the Treebeard Trail. The trail is a short 1.2 km loop that takes you through one of the oldest forest of Prince Albert National Park. You find yourself surrounded by enormous whitespruce and balsam fir trees making up the boreal forest.
To get there, ascend the steep, winding trail through a white spruce and balsam fir forest. The trees along this path are among the oldest and largest in the park. As you descend, watch for a spur trail to the right. It leads to a small, fern-edged creek, dark and cool.
To access the trail, enter the Prince Albert National Park and then drive 17.6 km down the Narrows Road. After you are done the hike, make sure you check out the beach at the Narrows Marina or Paighton Beach.
These were the first bunch of photos I took with the new Olympus OM-D E-M10 II from Don’s Photo. The big difference is that I had Panasonic 20mm f1.7 lens on it. I hadn’t had a lot of time to play with the camera as of then (or now) but I am really happy with it.
The Trailbeard Trail is close to the Narrows Marina and Paignton Beach. After the hike we went back to Paighton Beach where we had a picnic lunch. Jordon made a fire for the smokies while I used Mark’s stove to cook up some Knorr Sidekicks.
The day was gorgeous so Jordon managed to talk Mark, Oliver, Marley and myself to take a quick wade into the icy cold water of Waskesiu Lake. Jordon somehow managed to avoid wading into the lake.
It was a quiet weekend around here.
I brought home some smokies and buns on Friday evening where Jordon, Mark, and Oliver already had a fire going in the firepit. Mark had mowed the raked and mowed the leaves and lawn and broke apart some branches for the fire. By the time I was home, the fire was roaring which gave me some time to get changed and get some supper prepped while the fire burned down into some hot coals.
We roasted the smokies on the fire while relaxing outside. After the smokies and hot dogs were eaten, we all went inside and packed up our go-bags for a trip to Waskesiu and Prince Albert National Park on Saturday morning.
The goal was to get some wildlife shots but since we brought Marley, we hiked the Trail Beard Trail which is 17 km up the the Narrows Road (which always confused me because the Narrows Trail is on the other side of Waskesiu Lake). The trail is nice but is different than all of the other trails up there. First of all, the trees are old and massive (in part because of the boggy soil). There is cleared deadfall everywhere that is there to rot back into the soil over decades. The trail is considered “moderate” because of the climbing but I found it an easy walk. We took some landscape photos and then kept going further north and checked out the Narrows Marina. Jordon decided to head back down the Narrows Road where we stopped on at Paignton Beach, made a fire, cooked some food, and had a picnic lunch. Since it was in bear country, we actually had a picinic lunch while Oliver watched out for Yogi and Boo Boo. If you are up in Prince Albert National Park and want to get away from the crowds on the main beach, it is a gorgeous place to chill out and relax.
Since it was so nice, we all waded into the lake. So let me get this straight. The weather was gorgeous, the lake was freezing.
We used Mark’s backcountry stove to cook up some Knorr Side Kicks. The stove worked well but like most back country cookware, the pots were really thin and were prone to burning the food. I also brought along some polish sausages which were cooked on the fire pit so we had some burnt pasta as a side. Since it is me, I forgot the bags of chips but that was a minor thing.
From there, we drove back into Waskesiu and saw the Hawood Inn was packed with people up for the Thanksgiving weekend. With Waskesiu and the entire park so quiet, I understand why people would go up there. If the weather holds, we may camp up there next Thanksgiving.
Jordon cleaned the kitchen and house so we could relax on Sunday morning before I descended into the kitchen to make the Thanksgiving meal. To keep the kids busy, I bought Oliver The Lego Movie which he showed to Jordon (who had never seen it). Oliver is a living spoiler. He managed to tell Jordon what was going to happen just before it happened through the whole movie.
Thanksgiving Dinner was pretty uneventful and basic.
After dinner, we had some tea and chilled out.
Hope your weekend was a great one as well. I’m back at work tomorrow where it will be insane with people doing last minute shopping and getting angry when we are out of stuff. You know, because it is my fault we are out of stuff.
The start and end of the trail features these steps.
Jordon, Oliver, and Mark at the start of the trail.
Mark is ready to go
Oliver had just fallen but was okay.
Jordon and Mark on the trail.
Mark showing off his new sunglasses that we bought for him as an early birthday gift.
Oliver checking out Waskesiu Lake.
Jordon and Mark explore the trail.
Two ducks swimming near the shore. Well not that near, I was using an M.Zuiko 75-300mm lens which means that I was shooting at a 600mm equivalence.
Here is Oliver exploring the dark underbelly of The Narrows Trail.
If you ever have a chance to explore some of Prince Albert National Park’s trails, make sure you do. It was my first hike like this and I had a blast. We explored the Waskesiu River Trail later that day and of course are heading back up to hike to Grey Owl’s Cabin later this summer.