Shady Lake Trail – Prince Albert National Park

A cool weekend in September my wife and headed out to hike the amazing Shady Lake Trail in Prince Albert National Park. It’s a 1.7 km loop with the option of doing a detour to the height of land tower. The trail doesn’t take long but expect some steep areas as well as stairs. If you have problems with a lot of stairs I would avoid this trail and maybe do the Boundary Bog or Mud Creek trails.

Sign for Shady Lake Trail

Trailhead Sign for Shady Lake Trail

The trail starts out with a steep staircase down. It’s a pretty easy jaunt downwards, however be cautious if it’s wet. It tends to get slippery. Also a word of caution, you will be coming back up once you go down.

Shady Lake Trail, Prince Albert National Park

Shady Lake Trail, Prince Albert National Park

The trail is a mixture of deciduous and coniferous forest. The fall is amazing as it’s a drastic contrast in colours that make the forest pop.

Shady Lake Trail, Prince Albert National Park

Shady Lake Trail, Prince Albert National Park

This is the payoff. Shady Lake is a glorious view. You can also access this via canoe on the Amiskowan canoe route.

Shady Lake Trail, Prince Albert National Park

Shady Lake Trail, Prince Albert National Park

I feel obligated to put rock in. This is the rock that I proposed to my wife on.  I have named it Fred. She does not know this.

Shady Lake Trail, Prince Albert National Park

Shady Lake Trail, Prince Albert National Park

The lake is usually pretty clear and you can see the bottom quite easily. Look out for minnows!

Shady Lake Trail, Prince Albert National Park

Shady Lake Trail, Prince Albert National Park

Wildflowers litter the edges of the path. You can find yarrow, wild rose and others along the way!

Shady Lake Trail, Prince Albert National Park

Shady Lake Trail, Prince Albert National Park

Another hazard you half to be careful for. The roots make steps up some of the little hills, however they are also extremely easy to trip on. It would be a hard climb back up to the parking lot if you sprain your ankle.

Shady Lake Trail, Prince Albert National Park

Shady Lake Trail, Prince Albert National Park

The beginning of the approach back up the hill to the parking lot. This is a lot more gradual of an increase then the route down. I’d suggest if you have issues with steep hills you go down the west portion and back up the same way. It may take longer but it’s a more gentle of a climb.

Shady Lake Trail, Prince Albert National Park

Shady Lake Trail, Prince Albert National Park

This trail is moderately difficult with steep slopes. I believe the view of Shady Lake is definitely worth it and would recommend it to anyone!

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Dogs and Canoeing

Dogs can be unpredictable. Especially puppies!  We have recently acquired a new puppy.  Rider the adventure dog!  At the time where we decided to introduce him to the canoe he was about five and a half months.  I acquired a life jacket for him because I am a safe and responsible individual.  Also he’s not a super experience swimmer yet and if he jumped and swam to shore and got tired.  Too much safety isn’t always a bad thing.  To get him accustomed to it, I made him wear it around the house the day before and morning of.  He wasn’t super impressed at first but warmed up eventually.

The first thing on our list was to find a location with relatively calm water.  I didn’t want super big waves for the dogs first time in my canoe.  We found a bend on the South Saskatchewan River at the Fred Heal Canoe Launch. It was perfect with lots of sandbars.

 

I had purchased a cheap bathmat from the dollar store.  I, unfortunately forgot I had a large puppy and didn’t buy a bigger one.  I did this so that he didn’t slip around and had some stability.  It worked well and he was pretty much glued to it.  Initially my wife and I loaded him up and set off just off the shore.  As I suspected he promptly jumped in the water and swam to the shore.  Luckily we were only 15 feet away.  Next on the plan was to let the wife walk along the shore in case he did it again and row around with just him.  I constantly was speaking in a reassuring voice to keep him calm.  Eventually he settled in and laid down.

Once he was more comfortable I pulled over to a sandbar and my amazing wife hopped in.  Note the matching lifejackets.  Aren’t they cute? Completely….  planned..

 

Eventually he was good to go.  He even got back in the canoe after we stopped on an island somewhat willingly.

Problems we had:

It was a hot day and he would get thirsty and try to lean over and drink.  A 60 lb dog leaning over the side of a canoe randomly isn’t good for stability.  Next time I will bring some sort of water bucket for him.  I will try to fashion something that will hang down so that he can’t knock it over.

A lot of the problems we had were because of what my wife calls “Puppy Brain” .  Things like him wanting to swim, so he swims.  Gradually over time this should disappear as he gets older.

A couple more times out and I think he will be good to go for the canoe, furthering his abilities as Rider the Adventure dog!

Here is a picture of him doing his best muskrat impression.

 

Next up…. to teach him to fish.

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Backpacking the Elk Trail at Prince Albert National Park

I had some time this last week to go on a solo backpacking trip. I’ve done a ton of solo hikes before but never anything over night so this would be a new experience.  Initially the plan was to do Grey Owls Trail in Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan, however once I got up there I discovered that the road to the trail head had been washed out and the nearest place to park was about 40 km away.  I was disappointed to say the least.  I moped around the townsite of Waskesiu for about an hour trying to decide what I wanted to do.  The park office had suggested another trail on the south end of the park so I decided that would be the route I took.  Originally I was expecting about 12 km hiking with my full pack to a site, then 15 to Grey Owl’s and back to campsite with a smaller one.  Easy peezy.  This new hike was described as 13 km to the campsite but I didn’t think that extra kilometre was that bad.  After notifying the proper people of my change in plans I set out to the trail head of the Elk Trail


This is the Elk Trail that I hiked.  I GPS’d it myself.  Strangely enough my GPS said it was a 15km hike into the site and the park said 13km.  Someone is lying.  I believe the GPS more.  I started in the southeast corner of this map and trudged north west passed Sandy Lake and onward to Fish Lake for the night.
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It was a trip of firsts.  My first overnight solo, my first backpacking trip in years and years, and my first night sleeping in a hammock out in the woods. I wasn’t sure about the hammock yet as I had never done it before so I actually brought a tent with me as well.  Once I got to the site I setup my hammock and took a nap.  When I woke up a very fit lady in her 60’s or so showed up at set this up.  I didn’t feel like being shown up so hammock it is!

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I didn’t take any pictures of my hammock setup for some reason.  However here is one I sent to make people at home feel jealous of my relaxing outdoors.  It’s my beautiful feet.  In the end I did have a tarp strung up over top of me in case of rain.  It was a good sleep.  The hammock is a double so I could cocoon myself into it to fend off scary mosquitoes.  IMG_20160607_142758

I learned a lesson about backpacking on this trip.  Since I am usually doing canoe trips I hadn’t backpacked in a long time. On a canoe trip I can take a lot more stuff.  Unfortunately I packed like I was doing a canoe trip, which meant I took way way too much.  I was pretty tired when I made it to the site.  The trip out was even worse.  It took me just over three hours to get in and five hours to hike out.  At the end I was taking a break every twenty minutes.  It was rough.

The trail was pretty good.  It wasn’t a lot of ups and downs.  They apparently don’t maintain it but it looked pretty maintained. It would be a good trip via snowshoe in the winter as well methinks.  Here is a couple pictures from the trail.

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Here is one from one of my frequent breaks on the way out.  I was tired.  And sore.IMG_5531

This is a panoramic view of the campsite.  Mind the mess on the tables.    IMG_20160607_154452_panorama

The park office told me the trail and campground weren’t maintained.  They had a brand new outhouse stocked with toilet paper.  Also if you look closely you can see the wood is also neatly stacked.  Pretty nice for “not maintained”

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These are some shots from my site the night.  The lake seemed to be rather high.  I’m not sure if it was due to high water levels in general or beaver activity.  It ruined all opportunity to fish though and I wasn’t happy with that.  Also the lake was filled with leaches which also isn’t fun.
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The next morning I took this one.

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Overall I’d probably do the trail again at a later time.  I still want to get back to do Grey Owl’s again.  Hopefully the road will be open again soon.

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