Two More Days on the Boreal Trail

The Boreal Trail is a 135kms thru hike in Meadow Lake Provincial Park in Saskatchewan. It’s trails are very well maintained by a dedicated crew and it is the perfect hike for people who prefer to stay away from crowded trails. In the approximately 105kms we have hiked, we passed about 10 other hikers total. It is the perfect hike for people who like to see birds and wildlife.

Last summer, my sister and I hiked three days on the boreal trail. We managed to tick off about 75kms of hiking and we knew we wanted to finish it. We managed to make it back this May long weekend for 30 more kilometers with more hiking buddies than usual in tow, as we were joined by our boyfriends and friend Lindsay.

We started where we left off last time, at the Murray Doell campground. The attendant was very helpful and provided us with additional trail maps and information. We parked our vehicle by the boat launch and set out on the trail.

From the campsite, it is a quick 1.7 kilometers to the BT4 backcountry site. This site has a beautiful beach area and is well sheltered in the trees, it would be great for a quick in and out overnight trip. We stopped to check it out for a minute, but continued on our way soon after because our day was just getting started.

BT4 Campsite

Along the way, we got to enjoy the first flowers of the season, beautiful purple crocuses dotted the trail. I see them in the prairie grass every spring, but had no idea that they were also common in the forest.

Crocus flower

I am used to hiking with one or two other people, but is it ever a treat to have a bigger group. I was less worried about bear or other wildlife encounters because we were so much louder. It was also so much fun to have Pat and Ryan along for their first overnight hiking experience.

June and Piper were excited to smell and investigate everything, and finding a jaw bone from a deer was like hitting the jackpot. It was a great day to be a dog.

Deer jaw bone

After a quick and easy 10kms we arrived at our campsite. Usually I try to even out the hiking distances a little better each day, but I had read amazing reviews about Wolfs Bay and didn’t want to miss it.

Wolfs Bay Campsite

We were not disappointed, the Wolfs Bay campsite is breathtaking. You overlook the small bay on Lac des Isles and can watch the family of beavers who have a lodge built below. There is a beach to walk down to for water that would also be the perfect place to hang out in the sun for a few hours. It has a fire pit, benches, bear lockers, and a pit toilet.

Wolfs Bay, Lac des Isles
Wolfs bay beach

Chantal and I headed down to the beach to fill up water to filter and quickly noticed some tracks that belong to a cat of some sort. We both guessed that they might be lynx tracks.

A cat track, lynx maybe?

For dinner, we had the classic dehydrated backpackers chili and rice. It is always a crowd pleaser and even the first time hikers enjoyed it. I sacrificed a bit of added weight in my pack to bring along two mini trail pies. We have a family friend who suggests we ‘bring along a slice of pie’ as a treat on the trail, and I think I can get on board with regular trail pies.

Trail pies, yum!
Piper, Tia, and Chantal at camp

We enjoyed our food and a campfire for a few hours before tucking in to bed. We knew that we would be in for a cold night and I was glad that Piper likes to curl up on my feet to sleep. I gave her my puffy jacket as a blanket and she was a toasty little cinnamon roll in the tent.

Cozy Piper in the tent

Our peaceful tent experienced lasted a few hours, until I was startled away at 1:30 AM. It took me a few minutes to fully wake up and register that a nearby coyote was yipping and barking up a storm. I hadn’t heard a lone coyote make these noises before, and it sounded especially eerie knowing that we were in the backcountry 10kms away from the vehicle. Piper, who slept outside for the first 6 years of her life as a sled dog, wasn’t terribly concerned. June, was sleeping in the other tent

Chilly Piper in the morning wrapped up in a sleeping bag

The next morning Pat was the first one up in camp. I crawled out of the tent a few minutes later to a warm crackling fire, the joys of not being the first one up in the morning. The sun wasn’t hitting our camp just yet so the air was still pretty chilly. Piper started shivering and had to be wrapped up in a sleeping bag. Junie was more focused on scoring some extra breakfast.

June and the campsite

Once the sun finally made an appearance, the morning couldn’t have been more beautiful. We sat and watched the busy family of beavers below while we enjoyed our coffees. The bay was perfectly peaceful.

Morning coffee

Eventually, we packed up and began our day of hiking. Piper was eager to lead the way.

The best part about being the lead dog is that you’re the first one to find the exciting things that the trail has to offer. She was thrilled to happen upon a deer leg and I was happy to pass by it as quickly as possible.

A deer leg in the middle of the trail

We made our way to a water crossing that was fairly deep. The guys made their way across easily, but the dogs and the rest of us were more apprehensive. The weather was warming up, so the dogs didn’t mind swimming across, and Pat and Ryan stood on either side and held our hands as the rest of us crossed. The perks of hiking in a larger group.

Deep water crossing

We continued on through a section of new growth forest to BT3. It is a fairly open campsite because of the small trees, and I was relieved that we had camped at Wolfs Bay instead.

We stopped to have some lunch and give our feet a break. The sun was starting to take a toll on both us and the dogs, so we didn’t stick around for much longer than we needed to.

We continued on as the day began to warm up. My feet were feeling the effects of the first heavy weight carry of the season as well as the added strain of a pulling dog. We made our way back at the road and stopped at a bridge for a break. A young bear strolled out on the road, looked at us, and then quickly ran off.

Tia and Piper

We continued on to Howe Bay where we ended our hike. Our final treat was we were leaving the park was seeing a mama black bear with three small cubs crossing the road. As the car drove past her she turned around and stood her ground, ready to protect the cubs if she needed to, before turning and disappearing in to the trees.

Mama bear and three cubs

She was making her way to the section of trail that we had been on only hours before, and I am glad that we saw her from the safety of a vehicle. We made our way in to Meadow Lake for McDonalds and Dairy Queen Blizzards before heading home. A lovely two days of hiking!

Happy hiking!

7 thoughts on “Two More Days on the Boreal Trail

  1. Hey Tia,
    What an amazing backpack adventure. That first campsite was worth it. Lovely! Good thing you say the momma and cubs from a bit of a distance.

    So nice to be camping next to lakes. Absolutely gorgeous.

    Like

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