Manitoba Isn’t Boring When You Visit Riding Mountain! (50 Photos)
Since everyone kept saying Manitoba is sooo boring, I was determined to prove (to myself?) that it’s not! Riding Mountain National Park was on my list of interests. The ride up there was beautiful, for starters; it was definitely NOT flat and straight.
I spent 3 days enjoying Riding Mountain National Park. I was still feeling sick when I headed over there, unfortunately. I actually almost left when I first got there, because there is a TOWN inside the park! I just didn’t want to be around so many people at that time.
The first hike I went on in Riding Mountain National Park was the “Grey Owl” hike, which basically leads to a cabin. It took me under 3 hours, and was very easy and level. While I walked, I flipped through the visitor guide and was happy to discover that there were other, much cheaper, much more secluded “front country” campgrounds in the park… so I decided to stay. Most campsites in the Ontario national parks were about $30/night, but the primitive sites are usually about $15/night.
After my hike, I rode a long, loose gravel road to Whirlpool Lake Campground. There is one outhouse, and no water, shower facilities or electricity there. There is a bear-proof locker and access to a dock and lake, however. I chose a site that was fairly private, which proved to be a great location for my first portable camping shower!
Firewood there is also free! I was able to start my fire easily this time using toilet paper and polysporin as a fire starter! It was funny (to me) starting a fire during the day, but the days were so long that I was going to bed when it’s still light out anyways. I’m new to this stuff, so this was officially the second campfire I had started all by myself.
The next day, I woke up sick. For the first time, I filled up my portable camping shower or “solar shower” with lake water, and left it out in the sun. I headed over to the North Escarpment trail system, and decided on a big loop which involved the “Bald Hill” trail and the “J.E.T.”. The loop ends up being almost 22 km long (when you include the detours), but fairly easy even thought it was marked as “difficult” on the visitor guide. Ha! Difficult for Manitoba, maybe, but very easy compared to most Ontario hikes! A 22 km hike in Ontario would definitely need 2 days, I think.
Riding Mountain National Park is OOZING with wildlife, and even more evidence of wildlife! I saw a lynx, a deer, a humming bird, and insane amounts of bear poop! Several times during my hikes in this park, I would hear a large animal running away as I approached. Large enough that I would hear a lot of branches breaking! I was definitely worried about running into a bear, so sometimes I would sing, or play music on speaker. I had a whistle and dog spray with me just in case. Check out my gear page to see some of the items I take on my day hikes!
I also got stung by a bee for the first time in my life, conveniently while I was right in the middle of my 22 km hike! I thought “I hope I’m not allergic to bee stings!” and proceeded to text my friend about my location just in case I died, lol. Nothing happened. I did meet a woman in the middle of that hike who told me she was severely allergic to bee stings and had to carry an epi-pen with her at all times.
Since I was sick, I woke up coughing in the middle of the night, but on the bright side, finally got to see the stars for once! My tent is just mesh without the fly/tarp, so I was just on my back in my sleeping bag, staring at the stars in between the tree branches above me. It was so incredibly still, and so incredibly quiet. I wonder if it was all just a dream?
On day 3 at Riding Mountain National Park, one of my fears came true. The dizziness or lightheadedness that plagued me in the past had finally returned, so obviously I couldn’t ride. I stayed an additional day, just to chill at the campground.
I drank coffee from my thermos on the dock with my feet in the water. It was so sunny, and the sun always makes me feel better. Using a photo/diagram I had on my phone, I actually figured out how to set up my hammock for the very first time, using the “bowline” knot and 550 paracord! I love figuring out how to do things on my own, it always makes me feel so accomplished and independent. The bugs weren’t bad here at all, so I relaxed (for once!) in my hammock for hours, reading and napping. My mom was right… when you grow up, just sitting around is fun! I read half a novel in that day, which is amazing, because I’ve had trouble reading (and focusing) for the last couple of years. This new life on the road has been healthier for me in so many ways.
Whenever I ran out of water, I just used my water filter and the squeeze bottle it came with to “make” more water for tea. Lots of fluids when you’re sick, right?
A bee kept flying towards my red toenails. This actually seems to happen a lot! I also keep finding small pinecones and leaves stuck in my hair, which is pretty funny.
Two really awesome cyclists I met on trail the other day stopped by my site and we all hung out for awhile. It’s really cute that most people I’ve met are respectful and ask for permission to enter my campsite. I actually feel like when I set up my stuff, it becomes me “home”. It’s a very cozy feeling which I am not used to, because I usually always live with other people and seldom feel like I have my own space. I don’t know why, but one of my least favorite things in the world is the sound of someone knocking on my door, for some reason. I’d prefer receiving a text, lol!
I felt significantly better the day after my “chill out” day. I woke up to a crowded campground (ugh! Weekend!), quickly packed up and rode off. I decided to do one last mini hike in Riding Mountain National Park before leaving. There were these MASSIVE shimmering blue dragonflies at the lake this short hike led to. One landed on my head, and made me giggle! I wondered if it was my deceased friend Aron, reincarnated, lol. He loved dragonflies because they represented freedom to him.
Why do the mosquitoes keep getting bigger the further I travel?
I didn’t have enough space for my running shoes in my motorcycle luggage, but I really wish I didn’t leave them behind. Hiking doesn’t feel like enough! I want to start running again. There just isn’t enough room on my motorcycle to carry everything I want. It’s my home, but space is so limited.
If you’re going through Manitoba, give it a chance! Visit Riding Mountain National Park! Just a tip: Highway 45 leading to Russell, MB is WONDERFUL.
Have you ever been to a place that you’d consider massively underrated? Where was it, and how did it impress you? Feel free to share in the comment section below!