A solo trip in the Northern Lite
Discovering the Narrow Hills in a solo trip that would test the Northern Lite and my trusty Ford F350. It was late July and Charlotte took a road trip to the mountains with our daughter so I was left to fend on my own. Not a problem I have a home on wheels so no sitting and sulking around the cabin. This was my chance to do some off roading, a solo trip where Char was not there to keep me out of the ruts and in check.
RVing in Saskatchewan in July if you do not have a reservation in a campground you are probably out of luck. As it happens that suited me just fine as they were too crowded and noisy. So time to check out the north down some untravelled roads. I took Highway 55 east from Prince Albert towards Nipawin turning off heading north on 106 commonly referred to as the Hanson Lake Highway. This highway is the only route to Flin Flon, Manitoba and many northern fishing lakes in Saskatchewan along the way. At one time it was just a dirt trail and a challenge. Our version of the Dempster highway. It now is paved and very easy to travel in most areas.
Travelling through the Narrow Hills Provincial Park, the main campgrounds at Lower Fishing Lake were of course booked solid. I travelled through the Park heading north and turned on a gravel highway 165 that headed west to La Ronge. After just about shaking the truck and camper to pieces on the washboard road I pulled over and let about 30 lbs of air out of my tires. This worked great to take the shake, rattle and roll out of the camper as I could not travel fast to begin with. Why rush I had no place to go and a week to get there.
My proposed destination was to find Piprell Lake recreation site somewhere back in the hills and down this road. I travelled until the day was getting on close to 7:30 pm. Finally I saw another gravel road on my left and figured I would take it as it should lead me in the direction I had to go to get back to the main road I had passed. I really at this point had no idea where I was but no problem I was at home wherever I chose to stop.
Someone was on my side as the road ended at Piprell Lake at least that what the sign said. Some will hate me for this but I was not impressed as I drove through the campsites. When you get that feeling it’s best to sometimes just leave. I cannot say what made me feel that way except perhaps the condition of the grounds and people looking at me like I had just landed.
I was tired from a long day of driving slowly over rough roads and hungry. I just wanted a place to crash and have supper. Leaving there I headed down a trail hoping to find a spot in the bush to pull over and spend the night. The road was just about unpassable but I was determined to go on. I met a fellow coming on a quad and asked him where it led to and he said pretty much nowhere and very few spots I could even turn around, suggesting I back out. He had just come the way I was going so I believed him. He informed me a ways down the road they had just plowed in to Lost Echo Lake and there was a campground that might have a spot but could not be sure.
Taking his directions I headed east at this point. I decided I was done driving and took the first right trail heading into the bush. I would find a spot for the night on this forest road somewhere. After about 10 kms of rough trail I was getting less selective on where I would stay when a young couple in a car pulled up, I stopped to ask them what was up the road. I was informed they had just left a camp spot at Lost Echo Lake and if I continued it was the only spot left of the six sites. There were no signs but just take the next left for approximately 10km.
OK just keep going and it was worth the drive on a road that said travel at your own discretion, not maintained. The spot was there, the last one of six sites, I made supper and crashed for the night. Lost Echo is a smaller lake and the campsite were rough but have potential. With not even a hint of a cell signal I used my Spot X satellite phone to let Char know all was OK. Pushing the wrong button I also let 12 other people in our contact list know that as well. Should read the manual more often.
The weather started to change with storm clouds and a bit of rain so I decided to get out while the getting was good. In hindsight I should have stayed but pushed on to explore the area. The Narrow Hills are full of smaller lakes, a few with campgrounds and some just day picnic areas. The country is beautiful but in July as expected the few campgrounds there are were booked, mind you many were empty but booked. I know, as I boondocked in a booked site before leaving the park thanks to those who picked up the tab.
I put that old Ford and the Northern Lite down some roads Charlotte would not have approved of but now I know how far I can go without using the winch. Just a few scratches on the camper windows. Checking out many lakes and forest roads I knew I would be back when it was off season. This is starting to get close to being a novel so I will post some photographs of my trip in the Narrow hills and try to finish this post off.
With the parks booked I decided to slowly travel back towards home, maybe there was a campsite available at the Narrows north of Prince Albert in the Prince Albert National Park. No reservations required first come first served, my kinda campground. If not I know a spot I can boondock for the night. I took highway 120 from the Narrow Hills to Candle Lake, a gravel well-maintained road but in July very washboard. Air down tires really works great at keeping your rig in one piece. I stopped in Candle Lake Provincial Park to air up and on to PANP. A few photos along the way.
Well this novel should be winding down, yes I made it to the Narrows and it was packed except for one small campsite that most could not fit their condos on wheels into. It was home for three days, but the noise, the generators, the huge boats and people everywhere, this is not camping this is Walmart on steroids. The people across from me must have slept all day as they finally went quiet at 6 am. two days in a row. Another evening I was sitting around the fire and was startled by yelling and screaming and banging of pots and pans. Some inexperienced camper left food on the table outside his camper and a bear thought he was invited for a free lunch. I found out later he had actually filleted fish on his picnic table. When in bear country and you leave food out just be prepared for them to accept your invitation for lunch as many live in this park. Don’t get me wrong I have been to this campground for over 40 years and never have experienced this, it is normally a very quiet respectful and peaceful campground. But then I stay away on long weekend’s and July and August, now I know for sure not to be there. I phoned my son in Calgary and said I would be there for supper the next day. And so it was Calgary…my home parked on the driveway in peace and quiet…. that’s why I like my truck camper it fits anywhere and it’s home.
Charlotte and I returned to the Narrow Hills and Baldy Lake later in the season, that and a camp kitchen idea coming in future blogs. We may get a chance to test our DC to DC charger for some winter camping which I will share. Thanks for getting through this one. If you got to this point I can probably count on you to sign up and subscribe, it’s the only way I know I got you hooked. I am working on not posting notices on Facebook and Instagram to concentrate on my blog, so if you know someone who might like long winded novels and a bit of RV travel please share. It really helps motivate me to learn this blogging thing. Questions and comments are always welcome.
Take care, be safe and may the wind always be behind you…see you down the road.
Gerry and Charlotte