Return Trip: Day 9
There’s a rumour going around that there’s a mountain here, but I never saw one.
Riding Mountain National Park does have an escarpment, and it’s a big one, but Pai and I headed off in the other direction, on the advice of Some Helpful Guy at Elkhorn Riding Adventures, which is where Pai has bunked down for the last two nights while I’ve been camping at the National Park campground, within walking distance of her roomy pen at the resort. I had planned to go ride at the North Escarpment, but, not knowing the trails and not entirely sure of timing, I took his recommendation and we hauled out to Lake Audy and the trails there.
I had asked for a ride that would take roughly 3 to 4 hours, and Helpful Guy’s route took me exactly 3 1/2 hours. It was a 20 km loop that wound through varied terrain, from aspen forest to evergreen woods to open countryside with marshy ponds. There were places where the grassland stretched for miles and miles and miles – the park is huge at 3000 square kilometers in area.
I kept my eyes peeled for elk and bear, both of which Helpful Guy said I had a good chance of seeing, but no luck. All we saw were hawks and one grouse.
This little taste of the park makes me want to come back. When I pulled in at the Lake Audy equestrian camp, there were 8 rigs parked there, but no people or horses in sight. When I got back at three in the afternoon, there was still not a soul around. Either the riders are way more hardcore than I am, and were out for much longer rides, or they had headed out to some of the backcountry campsites for multi-day rides. Sweet.
Before a late dinner, Scooty and I went for a long walk into Wasagaming and down the shore of Clear Lake. From the vantage of the campground and resort last night, I had no idea there was a little mini-town over there, with restaurants and shops and a gas station and cottages.
Today we head off for Swift Current, and a reunion with Kelly and Daphne, the cowboy and his wife who so nicely let me tag along with them in Cypress Hills back in June.