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6/27/2016 7:41 pm  #1


Western Uplands Trail 3rd Loop June 24-26

Let's start off by saying that it was a truly amazing hike!

My wife, best friend and I got to the Kearney office around 8:30 AM on Friday and I was disheartened to see the Fire Level sign set at Extreme with a total burning ban. The Park workers in the office informed us that the alert applied to outside the park, and that APP was still set at 'High' which allowed for (cautious) campfires. We headed down Rain Lake Road and got to the trailhead close to 9:30. The morning was sunny and warm, which was a precursor for the entire three day trip. 

Hiking was easy for the first 8+ kms along the old railway bed, and we had a snack break on top of the concrete bridge remains not too far from where the trail heads into the woods. Mosquitoes and deer flies were present, but not intolerable, and some minimal repellant was all we needed. The breeze atop the bridge head felt good, and we were all just a little reluctant to pick up our packs and keep going. Lunch was had at the last western site on Islet Lake and the nourishment kept us going up to the Stammer Lake lookout where we stopped for one final snack and rest break before heading to our Pincher Lake camp site. Again, the breeze high up was most welcome, and it was tough to gear up to complete the final leg for the day. After passing Stutter Lake, I knew that Pincher was getting close. After inspecting the first (northern) site, we decided to try the next one which turned out to be more open and on a nicer area of the lake. We had some beverages, did the usual setup activities and had some dinner. A small campfire was enjoyed before turning in for the night. As I was settling down in the tent, I heard a distinct trotting sound which I'm guessing belonged to a fox or wolf. The night was active with insects and bullfrogs and then a very large animal went past our tent just before dawn. It was most likely a moose, but I didn't really want to exit the tent to find out...

Saturday morning (25th) was absolutely perfect - warm, sunny and still. We decided to take a dip in the lake and were surprised at how many dead minnows were floating about - kind of odd. We all escaped the swim leech free and enjoyed a leisurely morning before heading to Gervais Lake which made for a short hike day. We stopped for a break at Tern Lake and I have to say that my impression of it was much more favourable than last time. Perhaps it was the lower water levels that allowed for sitting on a rocky outcrop and the amazing warmth and sunshine that went along with it. We encountered a very angry grouse after Tern Lake and I suspect it was defending its young, although I didn't see any evidence of them. It was hissing, ruffling its feathers, and actually charged us. Luckily no one was beaked. We hit Gervais Lake around lunch time, and it was funny to see the thunder box held together by rope. I recall it falling apart during a stop in our early May 2015 hike and was wondering how it would be when we got there this year. After a brief relaxation time, we heard some voices coming down the trail and 3 younger guys emerged. We had some pleasant chats, and we welcomed them to use our site for their lunch. We saw them again briefly the next day as we all headed back to the trailhead - aside from a lone hiker near the trailhead, they were the only other hikers we saw the entire time. We did lots of catching up on the Saturday, and the cool breeze coming off of Gervais Lake felt great. We ended up taking a swim in there before dinner, and again escaped leech free. Another small camp fire finished off a perfect day. The bugs were a little bit bad off and on during the day, but again nothing too serious. The night was uneventful and I slept much better than the night before. 

Sunday morning brought more awesome weather, and we were diligent to get going as we wanted to get back to our car by 3:00 pm. We took the connector from Gervais to the top of the Third Loop and stopped at Brown Lake for a snack. the lake looked really inviting for a swim, but we didn't want to lose time. We stopped again for a quick break at the Ishkuday Lake site and kept going to the rail bridge remains for lunch. There was more wind than our Friday stop there, and again we relaxed just a little too much! The last stretch back to the car seemed longer than when we came in, and the sky was getting cloudier by the minute. We did not get any rain though, and we arrived at our car just after 2:30. After getting changed we headed to Huntsville for fish and chips before making our way back to our homes. 

Overall, one of the best weather weekends we have backpacked on. The days were beautiful and sunny and the nights were cooler but never 'cold'. The short hike and subsequently restful time on day 2 was truly appreciated, and I think we'll do more of this going forward (getting older I guess!). 

Cheers,

Rich

 

7/04/2016 8:37 pm  #2


Re: Western Uplands Trail 3rd Loop June 24-26

Rich, how was the Ishkuday Lake site when you arrived for your break?  The last time I was there (2 years ago) I could not find any water access.  Just curious for future trips.

 

7/05/2016 6:26 am  #3


Re: Western Uplands Trail 3rd Loop June 24-26

Hi solosal,
The Ishkuday site is likely the same as when you were last there. I also did not see any spot there to access water - just a large meadow and marshy type area that was suffering from the dry weather to boot!

     Thread Starter
 

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