Before the rush

Cowan Dam site recreation

It appears there has been a lifestyle change since 2020, people who could never be bothered to spend a lot of time outdoors have suddenly discovered fresh air. As with anything that becomes flavour of the month, we tend to overdose on whatever it is and take things to the extremes.

This is evident in the sales of anything outdoors from running shoes to expensive RV’s and cars. Money has not been the problem since 2020, the supply of outdoor toys has been and the shortage of green spaces. I keep saying the streets in Saskatoon were designed for a small city not the one it has grown into which creates traffic congestion. This goes also for everything outdoors these days as we go berserk in our efforts to amuse ourselves since our usual venues have been limited.

Try and book a tee time, or go for a quiet hike or bike ride thinking you will get some personal space, or book a camping site in one of our parks. This has been great for those marketing all these outdoor adventures and its great people are getting outdoors. One big problem you were somewhere else in previous years before and our courses, parks and trails were not designed for this kind of traffic. Our parks were not fully utilized, now it’s impossible to book a weekend unless you got the credit card out and spent your day on the internet booking every weekend possible.

 I feel sorry for anyone buying a new RV these days as they are flying off the line as fast as they can produce them, pride of quality gone as people are willing to pay anything without question. People who have just bought an expensive home on wheels and have not realized they would have to share with bugs, animals and people’s garbage left at sites. The skies are not always sunny as on YouTube. They now discover when you flush that is not the end of the story, and one hour showers are not going to happen at all let alone every day. And internet is a luxury not guaranteed with the price of admission. We are all guilty in the rush to satisfy.  We grab for the first flavour that is offered and get a double or triple scoop having never tried it before. Yep if you want an RV or an expensive set of golf clubs or one of the new electric bikes…just wait until what we will call normal returns, whenever that may be, and the market place will be flooded at 10 cents on the dollar.

It’s becoming frustrating for people who have always enjoyed spending time travelling around our beautiful country in their RV’s and yes that is us. How can you travel across the country when you have no place to stay the night as weekends are booked solid in most parks this summer. Heck even Walmart has started banning overnight stays as some have totally abused that privilege leaving garbage and living on the lot.

Those of us who have been RVing  for years may have to put up with this and get creative as we know we can and just wait it out until, like chewing gum, after awhile it’s not so tasty anymore and expensive RV’s will rot in backyards and storage facilities as this too will happen. Our parks, campgrounds, golf courses were not built to accommodate this sudden rush of traffic so for a time we will have to manage the ant hill living lifestyle, which admittedly some love.

Living with nature can teach us a lot and can provide a place of relaxation and beauty and a lot of people have discovered and enjoyed. As more and more people head outdoors, even early in the season we found garbage and human waste everywhere. What is it with people who have to litter and destroy the beauty around them by leaving their garbage.  It’s a danger to wildlife, pets and humans.  Why??? I will not refer to you as swines as that would be an insult to that breed, you are simply put, pigs in the simplest terms. Before long we are going to lose the privilege of camping, hiking and biking in some areas as they have to be shut down to protect the environment and ourselves from ourselves. Take your garbage out with you and leave no trace of being there….Please.

Garbage left behind
Garbage left behind

Admittedly in our travels on Saskatchewan highways and parks we have noticed either a lack of or no way to dispose of waste or re-cycle containers in the parks and at rest stops. Manitoba and B.C. do an excellent job of this but for some reason Saskatchewan pales in comparison. This however is no excuse to just drop it where ever. For that reason I will not be sharing those hidden gem camp spots that are out of the way and quiet that we have discovered on our own. This is at the request of others that go there and the fact that the next time we return we do not want it to be the new go to place and full of garbage. If you find these spots on your own the effort is worth it and you will probably respect it as we do. We will try and inform you on the regular spots and our experience at them as we see it you will have to experience them on your own.

Dock at Meeting Lake
Rising water at Meeting Lake.

I will share some images of our trip as we spent the first night “moochdocking” at our very good friends’ place at Meeting Lake, Saskatchewan out front of their cabin. Meeting Lake is one of the few lakes that the water is rising every year with no real explanation. Now the beach area is gone and cabins on the lake are surrounded by dirt berms. After a good visit we left and plans changed while on the road and we were headed for Big River. What seemed like an eternity on some of the worst back roads we have ever been on we arrived at the resort community of Big River where we found a really nice regional park to stay at right on Cowan Lake. The community has two very nice regional parks and a couple of private ones that appear to be seasonal spots only. As we, along with one other RV, were the only ones there, we found the spot quite quiet and relaxing.

Campsite at Big River
Overnight stay on the shore of Cowan Lake.

The next morning we headed north again in spotty rain, found a road used a lot for logging trucks and a sign that said Sled Lake. We decided to give the road a try as it had rained and check out Sled Lake. At first the road was fairly good but did deteriorate and get a lot narrower but we made it and found one of the prettiest little lake communities we have ever seen.  No luck, nothing was for sale or we would have never come home. The community consisted of perhaps 30 residences and an outfitters camp, the whole community was well groomed and a pride of home ownership showed everywhere we looked. They have closed the campground there, possibly they did not want the distractions or forementioned problems so we could not stay overnight.

Sled Lake
Shoreline of Sled Lake.
Sled Lake
Shoreline of Sled Lake

We respected their wishes and from there we moved on to the Cowan Dam site recreation area where we found many people fishing and camping there. It is a really nice spot to camp or fish, but was very crowded and the fish flies were incredible so we moved on.

Not far from Meadow Lake we decided to head there as our granddaughter is finishing her pharmacist training there for a couple of months. However she had left for home taking an extended weekend but we checked out the Lions Park campground in Meadow Lake. A nice little spot right outside the community and there was some pre-season preparations happening and it was not our cup of tea so we headed to Meadow Lake Provincial Park north of the community. The park covers approximately 1600 square kms and features over 20 lakes and several campgrounds, some hike in tenting only. This is an excellent northern park for those tenting and not wanting to be surrounded by RVs. The lakes are beautiful and clear with many hiking trails around them. We had spent time there one fall out of season and it was very colourful if you catch the leaves at the right time. We headed to Waterhen Lake, one of the largest lakes.  We had been there before, but upon arriving found the campground just about full of people who were fishing and the spots were limited. We decided to take a chance the Greig Lake campground was open at this time and discovered a beautiful campground surrounding the lake and very sparse. We could pick just about any site we wanted. The sites are all very well kept and provide a lot of treed in privacy I don’t think there was a bad spot in the campground. We are not beach people but for those that are the beaches are great at several of the lakes. We spent the night there hiking and exploring the surrounding area and would recommend this campground but imagine in prime time it could be very busy. And if you don’t mind busy this is a go to spot.

We left the park early the next day and travelled through the park to the community of Goodsoil where we took Hwy. 26 south to Loon Lake. This section of 26 is really not advisable if you love your RV or in anything less than a 4×4, we have traveled similar logging trails. From Loon Lake we took Hwy. 699 and visited Steele Narrows National Historical Site of Canada. This is the site of the Northwest Resistance which began in the spring of 1885. During that time, several battles were fought between the Indigenous people and the North West Mounted Police (NWMP). The battle of Loon Lake took place at Steele Narrows on June 3rd, 1885. This concluded the Northwest Resistance and was the last battle to be fought on Canadian soil. There we met a young native family who were there teaching their young ones the history of the area which was so good to see. Regardless of how they felt about the history at least they were sharing it, now in our society we try and hide our past rather than learning from it.

Steele Narrows view
This is where the last Canadian rebellion took place.

There are campgrounds there I think that are provincial as I did not take notes, that were very nice but for tents or smaller units under that 30 ft. overall length for sure. We then headed to Makwa Lake Provincial Park 60 kms west of Loon Lake. This provincial park is made up of expansive forest connecting five lakes, it features three campgrounds and multiple sandy beaches. Again many beautiful hiking trails in the area with wheel chair access to the beaches and service centers. We have never stayed there but may be a consideration in off season. I think it would be beautiful and great lakes to canoe. A great start to beat the rush and approximately 1200 kms later we were happy to have experienced more of our province and perhaps some go to again areas.

Camping table
My new camping table for sites without amenities, road tested and worked well.
My camera tripod works as a table leg.

Now to find those really off the pavement and off the grid areas for some more adventure, photographs and great canoeing we hope to someday meet as we go down the road.  As usual if you like what you see please subscribe and like. I am open to questions and nice comments only at gerry@studiowest.ca

As my new friend Jeffie Bear would say “be kind, love one another, love ya all”, see you soon.

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