Hiking the Highways 7 – The High Country

Today I was sitting in Westview Trailer Park, having a coffee and muffin, and wondering what I might do on such a beautiful, sunny day. Since it was still too early to put the pressure of paddling on my hands, I thought that this would be a great day to continue my ‘Hiking the Highways’ series of posts. It wasn’t too hot, and there was a nice breeze to cool me off as I walked.

So, I headed home to get my stuff for the hike. I then drove north to the spot where I had last left off here; http://tinyurl.com/nm4keo7 in my ‘Hiking the Highways 5’ post.

I knew that this would be a challenging hike, since it involved going up and down one of the biggest hills in the area, the Boland Hill. I parked the truck in one of the only places to park along this stretch, on a very narrow piece of ground, just off the highway.

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Then I headed north, up the Boland Hill. The thing about walking this section is that you not only have to go up the Boland Hill, but you also have to go back down, on the other side, so I had to do it twice, since I was returning this way to my truck.

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This part of the road is designated as highway 639, but there’s no way I would call this a ‘highway’. It’s a hard surfaced back road at best.

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There were lots of neat, and high, rock cuts along the road, as it cuts its way through the rugged Canadian Shield.

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As I’ve said before, this is a very quiet road, although it was Friday, coming into prime vacation time. Still, I only saw one vehicle every half hour or so.

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The Boland Hill is a bit deceptive because, once you come over a rise, and you figured that you’ve reached the top, it rises again.

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Once at the top of the Boland Hill, you can look back and see, what I believe to be, part of Flack Lake.

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As usual, there are many smaller roads heading into the bush off this main road, some of them are well defined, like this one, and some are very hard to see. I don’t investigate all these types of roads, because I know that many of these will go for miles into the bush, but I do walk into some of them for a short distance.

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I didn’t have to go very far into this one until I came to these signs. I’m not too sure people pay any attention to them, but I had far enough to walk, without going any further off the beaten path, so I wasn’t intending to go in there anyways.

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On the down side of the Boland Hill, it looked like a much easier walk 🙂 However, just like when I’m paddling, with the flow, down a river, I have to consider the return trip.

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Just over the top of Boland Hill is this road, that goes into Cobre Lake. I’ve already paddled Cobre Lake, but I may come back here soon, to try some fishing. This is only a small lake, but it’s 200 feet deep, so there might be some Trout lurking in those depths, now that the warmer weather is here.

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There is also an 11km long, looped, hiking trail here, which I hear is a very rugged trail, with some real nice lookout points, on one of the highest peaks in the area called Belvedere Mountain.

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If you’re thinking about skate-boarding, I wouldn’t advise it. The road surface might look smooth in these pictures, but there are many heaves and hollows in the hard surface, which make driving this road even more challenging. Remember too, there are very few guard rails along the edges of this road, with lots of places where a bad decision might give you a chance to say a Hail Mary, before you reach the bottom.

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I crossed over to the other side of the road here, because I heard a small water fall in the bushes.

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Farther down the other side of the Boland Hill, I saw some moose tracks along the side of the road.

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It’s difficult to see, but there is an ATV trail going into the bush here. There are many trails like this, that you would never see driving by, and some of them are even difficult to see walking by. I’m interested in the ones that lead into lakes.

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It’s a long road, but somebody has to walk it. I did have my walking stick with me but, right now, it’s stuck in the ground, with my camera attached to the top, so I could take my own picture. I was using my walking stick in my right hand today, thinking that this would give my injured hand a bit of a workout, without over-doing it. It seemed to work, although my hand did hurt while using the stick, it does feel better now. I’m thinking next week I might be able to paddle again.

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I walked into this bush road for about a half a kilometer, but I turned back because it seemed to be going nowhere. After checking the map, I made the right decision, it was going nowhere.

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This old sign for Frontier Lodge is buried in the bushes. I guess they don’t care if you find it or not. It seems to point to a, barely visible, gravely road, that heads into the bush right here when, in fact, it is supposed to mean that you continue on highway 169, and then turn right for 13kms. I wonder how many people have gotten lost in the bush trying to figure out where Frontier Lodge is?

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I reached the end of highway 639, and I had intended to turn back at this point, but I felt strong, and I knew that the Little White River bridge was not too much farther ahead, so I went for it.

In this stretch between the end of 639 and the Little White River, a car pulling one of those fold-up camper trailers stopped beside me. Inside the car was loaded to the hilt with stuff for camping, and barely enough room for the three occupants to sit. The guy in the back seat rolled down his window and said that he just stopped to say hello, and then went on to express his discontent. They had just driven for seven hours, and were the lead car in a group of about 20 people who were coming up to camp for the weekend. However, when they got there, they could not find a place to camp because of all the empty trailers left on the good sites by people who came up early in the spring.

I told him that I shared his frustration with this practice, but there’s really nothing anyone can do about it. The human race will always be like this until they are all gone. You give them an inch, and they take a mile. It’s no wonder that so many bush roads are being blocked now. Of course, that’s not the whole story. You also have Provincial Parks charging exorbitant camping fees, which forces people to look for cheaper, or even free options, which then leads to greed, when they find something that suits their needs, and try to make it their own.

On the way back, I ran into these same people. They had pulled off onto a large sandy section, right on the corner of where highway 639 starts. I wished them good luck on finding a site, and one of the guys said to me, “We’ve already found our site. Right Here!!” I guess they weren’t about to drive the seven hours back home. It’s sad though. There are so many good camping sites in the bush, but you have to know where they are, and you have to actually go in there and see if it’s taken. That’s the only way to get into these places now.

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Just after talking to those people, I found Moose Jaw in Ontario, not Saskatchewan. It still had quite a few good teeth too.

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Just after finding Moose Jaw, I looked ahead, and I could see the bridge over the Little White River.

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And here it is, wide and shallow, at this point. The Little White River is a favorite destination for kayakers and canoeists.
It runs all the way along highway 546, and is easily accessible at many points along the way. There are lots of rapids, that are especially challenging in the spring.

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On the other side of the bridge, you can’t see in this picture but, just off to the right, is a bunch of trailers on a flat spot beside the river. I went into other places along this river, and found the same thing, trailers, mostly with no one there.

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The Little White River again. This spot is marked as a Picnic Area on the map. From where I was standing, taking this picture, there were trailers to my left, to my right, and behind me. Again, no sign of people.

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I’m now headed back towards the truck, but I have to conquer the Boland Hill, once again, before I reach it.

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Wildflowers along the road.

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Once I reached the top, I climbed up on one of those rock cuts, on the side of the road, to have a well-deserved break in the shade.

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A panorama of this scenic spot.

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Looking back, I’ve got it made, it’s all down hill from here.

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I have to admit, it was a long haul coming up that hill on the way back, and the sun was hot, but it was a good workout.

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I did bring a bottle of water with me on this hike, which is something I never used to do, but it was all finished by now.

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Anyway, now that I was on the down hill run, and there was a nice breeze, I was feeling pretty good.

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I knew that the truck was waiting for me at the bottom of this hill.

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Actually, I can see the truck in this picture, but I’ll bet most people won’t be able to.

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I cut my feet off, oh well, my walking stick has bad aim.

So, that’s it for today’s edition of ‘Hiking the Highways’. There will be more in this series still to come. As I mentioned earlier, I will be getting back to paddling next week, so that will probably be the next post. I can’t say where I will be going yet because, I know if I do, I’ll end up going somewhere different, so I’ll just wait and see.

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