Before I made it out to the main road, I went past Wolf Bay campsite but to get there, I had another creek to cross. Life being what it is, this was another challenge thrown in for good measure. It took a couple of false starts but I finally noticed the logs crossing the channel behind me and to the left in the photo. They got me onto the old beaver dam that ended at another homemade bridge. Despite hamming it up in the photos, I enjoyed these little navigational challenges because I knew the trail was there, I just had to find it. I might have been less receptive had it been cold and wet but the weather was fantastic.
The bridge is shown below and when I made the step down off the dam towards it, my foot encountered nothing but fresh air under the tall grass and my legs straddled the logs. Before I could congratulate myself on a one point landing, the logs underneath became alive with wasps. My tired legs instantly found energy and I sprinted up and off now what shall be called “yellow jacket creek” and into the calf deep water beyond. Only got stung once so I consider that a victory.
I waded over to dry land and this is the view looking back from whence I came:
If the brush was cleared off the old beaver dam and a slightly better bridge put in minus the yellow jackets, it would be an easy trip across with the option of keeping the feet dry.
About a half mile away from Wolf Bay, I came to another skidder trail and walked, ran and tripped my way to Wolf Bay, F- bombs included as I wondered what kind of an idiot would try to run through this stuff. In the picture below, I believe the trail sign in the background is the trail to the campsite but I didn’t go exploring and continued out to the road.
When I got out to the road, I had covered close to 40 km for the day and was looking forward to a nice run down a trail on the north side of the main road.
A guy can dream because after only 100 yards down the old road on the north side, I got tired of ducking under alders as the trail was totally overgrown. I made the decision to walk through the bush out to the main road while it was still close by as I just wasn’t up to a long slog through the brush.
Pam had texted me shortly before saying they were riding the bikes out to meet me. I texted back that I had given up on the trail and was out on the main road. (the cell service was amazing on the west end of the trail, not so good farther east) She missed the text and they went the distance down this goat trail, passing me going the other direction and proving they were far tougher than I to make it through there with bikes. So for the record, from their experience I can say that the first part of the trail as it heads west is fine but about the last half to two thirds suck. Lauren’s comment as they fought their way through the brush was “I’m going to kill somebody!” I’ll take that as meaning it wasn’t much fun.
They caught me as I was baking out on the road with Kellen arriving first with Pam and Lauren shortly after. Pam and Kellen went on ahead as I was walking up a long hill but Lauren stayed and walked with me. Much as I will love Kellen forever after he brought me cold water at the end of day 1, I shall love Lauren forever for this welcome support when I was going through a bad stretch.
Once we arrived at the point where the trail goes into the bush to back country campsite BT 4, Lauren went on ahead on the main road back to the campground. I’m happy to report that the section from the road to BT 4 is in good shape and an absolute joy after frying out on the gravel road.
It is a very sheltered site close to the lake and had I been tenting and given the choice of being here or in the busy main campground just over a mile to the east, I would take the privacy of this place, thank you very much.
As said earlier, it’s only slightly over a mile to get to Murray Doell campground from BT 4. How hard could that be? But before starting the last short run in, I actually found myself not really wanting it to end so I sat in the shade for a bit and just enjoyed the bush before pushing off. This close to the campground, I assumed the trail would get more foot traffic and be in decent shape.
Well, it did get more foot traffic but that was from bears and the odd beaver.
It started out ok…………
Then not so ok…………………………..
And then it disappeared and I found myself on a beaver trail heading down to the water. I circled back and found the very overgrown trail:
It’s in the center of the photo below…….really! That was the trail. Thankfully, this was a very short section and the trail improved greatly as the campground got closer.
And then I came to the last creek crossing before Murray Doell Campground. It was here that I learned that the cold water really makes the blisters on your feet hurt. Maybe I should have stood in the creek longer to make them go numb but I was starting to be more like a horse getting closer to the barn and wanted to pick up the pace. Pretty spot though:
It turned out that the creek was the reason the foot traffic stopped. Past the creek, it was a well-used trail back to the campground. (don’t quote me on this but I believe there is now a bridge over that last creek crossing)
And then the final run in where Pam, Kellen, Lauren and Anna had walked in part way up the trail to meet me.
I was happy to be in and somewhere about here, my muscles started telling me they weren’t very happy about what I had just put them through, go figure.
A dog bed can be very comfortable given the circumstances (the salt and vinegar chips tasted great also!):
I’m happy to report that I did drag my sorry butt off Anna’s bed. A long shower improved my disposition tremendously, a great meal prepared by Lauren replenished my energy, the compression socks did their magic once again and I even did the dishes that night. I shall be forever thankful to Pam and the kids for their support that allowed me to have this incredible adventure. They went through a lot including swimmers itch so I could have this run. Another thank you goes to Murray Doell himself (a good friend, lost in a helicopter crash many years ago). When it started to hurt at certain points, I thought about him and how I was running to his campground. I couldn’t let him down and maybe borrowed some of his strength. However it worked, each time I thought about Murray, things got easier. Thanks buddy.
Looking back, now that the blisters on my feet have healed, I wish at times I would have had the energy to gut out the overgrown sections just to see them but it gives me a reason to go back and do it all over again. The trail has amazing potential and with some work, all the sections can be runnable or a really fantastic hike. It’s the longest trail in the province and a work in progress for the park staff. With all the fires this past summer, I didn’t expect the trail to be perfect so in a normal year, it would have been much better. Hats off to the people who made this trail a reality. The longest trail in Saskatchewan is well worth the effort to see it in its entirety.