Dark clouds loomed over the campground, spreading a chill through the air. It wasn’t exactly the weekend we had hoped for, but it would do on such short notice.
On a whim, we decided to go camping at Whiteshell Provincial Park (West Hawk Lake to be specific). It was clear that little planning had gone into the trip as 1) we didn’t check the weather and 2) we may have over-packed for a 2 day excursion.
It was shaping up to be a pretty dreary weekend and had begun spitting on and off. I never let a little thing like rain stop me and I wouldn’t let it stop me now.
My mom was perfectly content with sitting at the campground relaxing. But I didn’t come to Whiteshell to relax. I came to be free and explore!
Right next to our campsite was a trail that led… somewhere. It curled along the lake and up the side of Manitoban cliffs and beckoned to me like a siren calling to a sailor. So I decided to go and my sister tagged along. She should know by now that her sense of adventure and my sense of adventure are two wildly different things.
For one, she is terrified of heights while I see a peak and start climbing without a second thought.
She followed me all the way through — a trooper.
The path was narrow and muddy, littered with roots, rocks, and perilous holes while branches leaped out in front of us as if to say ‘do not enter’. This is what I lived for. This is what my sister avoided, especially with the water on our left waiting to consume us with one wrong step.
Soon, we found a diverging path. One continued low along the water; the other led away from the water, but was steep without a destination in sight. Which one did I go for?
I can tell you that my sister wasn’t pleased with my choice.
But still, she followed along.
Whiteshell is on the Canadian Shield, which is more or less a giant expanse of rock. At West Hawk Lake, you’re all but rock-climbing on these formations that jut out of the ground to support the various trees. It’s most certainly a gateway drug to more adventurous activities.
We continued up this path, narrower and more treacherous with every passing step.
I like to take risks. My sister doesn’t. So when we came to a steep face with the path continuing almost vertically, I left my sister cowering with a tree for support and went to explore, seeing which places were best to step and if the path actually led anywhere. At this point, I don’t think we were on a path any longer. This was our own trail.
Seeing that our way did, in fact, lead to some flat ground atop the giant rock, I went back for my sister and led her like a Sherpa up the steep slope.
On top, beauty.
Yes, it was a cloudy, miserable day, but when you stand above everything else, the views you experience make up for the weather.
Charcoal grey water curved around beaches and other rock formations and led out to wider spaces that we couldn’t see. Below, a few people dotted the beach, but they were ants compared to us. I stood close to the edge, feeling the wind on my skin and the tiny droplets of water on my face. My sister stood behind.
It felt as though we were in a place all our own.
We would soon discover that this feeling was make believe.
Only a few minutes later, we were on a main trail littered with others: a boy and his dad, two girls playing, a couple. Disappointment crept in. I liked the feeling of being isolated from civilization.
Oh well, we’d discover somewhere new.
But following that path, we ended up back at the campground, down a dirt road from where our site was.
My sister was happy but I wanted more. I decided that I’d find another trail later to satisfy that need for adventure.
However, the rain would soon start pouring endlessly, chasing the 3 of us back home, away from our leaking tent and into the comfort of dry beds.