Our last few blogs have begun rather easily for me. Simply a recount of the day with a few pictures. Today, it's not as easy for me to recount as there were just so many adventures! I will begin at the beginning and try not to leave any important details out.
Riding Mountain National Park has everything to offer every type of traveler and we pretty much sampled them all. We began quietly enough with a walk on the pier at Clear Lake. Today being a bit warmer than yesterday, the walk was a relaxing stroll. Bud and I then took in the quaint shops in Wasagaming, buy an few souvenirs and having a snack at a cafe with free wifi.
Our plan was then to pack a lunch and head out for a drive or hike depending on what we found. We headed up into the park and turned off the highway to a gravel road marked with hiking, picnicking and a campground sign. There was also a bison enclosure enroute. We were beginning to wonder when the road would come to any of those listed things when we came to the bison enclosure. The bison were 30 feet away from the road. Like in Yellowstone National Park, they looked at us and continued doing their thing. Cool!
We continued on and saw the signs for the trails. They were long trails but we figured we'd just do a portion and come back. Signs out by the trail head, read that there was an alert for bison on the trail routes and to proceed with caution. OK, we thought, we can be cautious. Bud and I headed down the trail which was cut into the forest and winding. Bud was a bit in front of me and I heard him yell all of a sudden,"there's a bison running on the road toward us. RUN!" We turned and ran back down the path not sure what we would do if it continued to chase. They can run up to 50 miles /hour! Luckily he did not keep coming but we saw him on the trail back tracking to his open field ahead and we took this picture.
That route was definitely out of the question, so we headed down a second trail. We saw no wildlife on the trail, but we did pick up some hitch-hikers which I'll get to in a moment.
Back in our truck 45 minutes later, we headed back to the road the same way we came. On the side of the road right around the corner was another bison (who was considerably larger) who was running along side our truck. Cool! And then he began to chase the truck. Although we felt considerably safer, it still was a rather sobering encounter with nature. He chased us for at least a kilometre. Apparently he didn't like visitors on HIS trail. Eventually the bison stopped and walked back into a field and off the road.
To return, we had to go through the enclosure again and the bison were now right up against the road we had to go through. They let us pass with no problems. We did, however, figure we would stop on the way back at the bison exhibit since we felt so in tune with them now. The exhibit was a number of reading panels but that didn't end up being the cool part. We looked up and saw many bird nests in the ceiling joists, many of them with baby birds in them. The birds had orange breasts and long split tail feathers. They were barn swallows and they were silent and swooped beautifully into feed the babies.
As we silently watched, Bud suddenly motioned to me to come over to the lookout over the bison range. We didn't see any bison, but what we saw was a black bear!
He had strolled over to root around for bugs in the bushes. He didn't see us for a long time and we were in the exhibit shelter above him so we were safe enough to stand and watch. Eventually, he looked up, saw us and walked away.
Riding Mountain National Park is, indeed full of wildlife experiences but unlike other parks where we have seen wildlife (like Yellowstone) we were very aware that we were invading their territory not the other way around.
When we got back to the trailer, a nap was in order. If you think I've forgotten to tell you about our hitch hikers - this is where they come in. Waking up from our nap, Bud noticed an insect on his leg. Well, we are camping so, so what. But then I saw another one and realized they were ticks. They are kind of like the leeches of the forest world and attach to animals like a parasite would. We then began a search-and found 2 more! The trailer, our clothes, and our gear was then turned upside down hunting for any others but it seemed clean.
We finished up the day with a treat! A full Italian dinner from the restaurant in town and then we watched Jersey Boys inherited park theatre.
I told you Riding Mountain National Park had something for everyone.