After days in the prairies and living out of the van, we were keen to revisit some city luxuries. It was about a three hour drive from the park to Regina, the second largest city and capital of Saskatchewan, and I had booked a low-cost Airbnb for us to stay for the night. We restocked on some fresh food and enjoyed the view from a city park overlooking the water before heading there. We had a private room in the host’s house, and it was a sign of the times that we were greeted by the host wearing a plastic face shield and spray bottle of hand sanitiser. We didn’t care much for the city, or for the host (in the late evening, it sounded like he was giving an online sermon, and his booming voice travelled easily through the walls of our room), but it was good to recharge in a real bed and have a hot shower. We also indulged in a venti-sized mocha from Starbucks on our departure, which ended up becoming a bit of a habit for the rest of our days on the road…
Our next stop was Riding Mountain National Park, situated part way between Regina and Winnipeg. It was a four hour drive, but we arrived with enough time to enjoy the expansive waterfront on Clear Lake, along with something else we hadn’t seen many of for a while: trees! The autumn colours were in full swing in the park, and we relished having colour and variety in the scenery. Towards the end of the day, we went for a stroll on a boardwalk through nearby marshland. It was a really novel way to explore the habitat, and we encountered very few people on the path. The sun was low in the sky, and the marsh grasses and nearby trees showed off their spectacular golden colours. We were also super excited to come across a frog and a beaver! We watched the beaver for a while as it chewed the bark on a stick next to its impressive dam, before it dove underneath the water and swam off.
Our camp spot for the evening was on the far side of the lake, and the weather deteriorated as the evening went on. We found a spot more sheltered from the wind and finally made use of ironing board kitchen table to prepare dinner! The ferocity of the weather was impressive, and the shore of the lake really felt like the ocean. But by the morning, all was calm again, and we had breakfast at a nice picnic spot before driving to a hike near the east entrance to the park.
I had selected a hike to Bald Hill, so called because of the end point of the trail: a bare grey mound that rises above the surrounding dense forest. The colours in this part of the park were truly spectacular, and the sunny weather made the yellow, orange and red leaves glow as we made our way through the forest trail. For the most part, we were among the trees, and so we could fully appreciate the autumn colours. There was also a lot of poison ivy on the sides of the trail, which actually looked very pretty as it was coloured a warm shade of red. In contrast to hikes in BC, the elevation gain of the hike was only 250m over the 11km, so it was an easygoing and pleasant walk. The top of the hill was extremely windy, and we only stayed there a short while before heading back to the car and driving on to Winnipeg.