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Camping in Manitoba



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 Tuesday, 19 July 2005
Tuesday, 19 July 2005 07:54:37 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) ( )

Last fall we bought a small pop-up tent trailer style camper. My thought was that it would be a lot more fun to camp in a camper than in a tent. And that we’d go more often since the primary barrier to camping is all the prep time required – packing, organizing and so forth. Much of that can be done once and everything left in the camper, meaning that the only prep work required tends to center around food.


We’re just now on the road coming home from our most recent camping trip (trip number 5 with the camper I think), and it was a blast! We went north of Winnipeg, Canada to Grand Beach. This beach is billed as one of the best in North America. I was rather skeptical that a beach that far north could really be that good, but it is everything they say! White sand beaches that stretch forever in either direction, nice water and beautiful weather (at least in mid-July).


You might think I’m kidding or exaggerating, but I’m not. I’ve been to beaches in Florida, California and Virginia and this was easily equivalent to any of them. Lake Winnipeg is so large that you feel you are on the shore of a fresh water sea. And the really stunning thing is that when you look at a map, the beach is in a small bay off the main lake!


The Grand Beach campground is a provincial campground, an equivalent to a state park in Minnesota. It was comparable in almost every way. Nice campsites, decent restrooms and lots of hiking and biking trails. The one difference is that they have an on-site store along with the shower facility, which was nice as we’d somehow left the catsup and mustard at home…


My youngest son and I hiked back on the Ancient Beach trail, which was quite an adventure. We hiked up a very narrow winding trail, around trees and over granite boulders until we reached the edge of a virtual cliff. This was the beach many thousands of years ago. Today it is above the tree tops. You can look out over the trees and see Lake Winnipeg in the distance. But at one time the lake came up over the trees and all the way back to this cliff!


But our adventure wasn’t over. We climbed down the cliff (not like rock climbing, but still a challenging scrabble down loose sand and rock) and followed the trail onward for perhaps 20 meters (this was Canada, all metric remember :) ). The trail then split into three trails – none with any signs. The one to the right looked little used, and almost certainly went in the wrong direction for us. The one in the middle looked well used, but was quite a bit wider than any trail we’d been on thus far. The one on the left looked comparable to the trail we’d been on, and it had red ribbons on some of the brush.


So we opted to go left. This trail wound around through pine trees, over granite and we nearly choked on the mosquitoes they were so thick. But it was gorgeous! In parts of the walk you could see way back under the trees, blueberries covering the ground and the pines acting like a canopy overhead.


After quite a while we started wondering if this was, in fact, the right trail. After all, it seemed like we’d been going for a very long time – and not really in the right direction. I was considering retracing our steps when the trail finally turned back north and we started climbing back up the steep hill. Half way up the hill we found a really awesome patch of blueberries and picked a few. But the mosquitoes were too bad to stand still and pick berries, so we kept going. Shortly thereafter we found ourselves back at the Ancient Beach overlook. Not where we wanted to be, but close enough. We retraced the trail back to the beginning and were done. What a great hike!

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