September 18 2018
Intended Destination: Prince Albert National Park
Actual Destination: Lion’s Campground (Tisdale, Saskatchewan)
I slept later than my sister today and she did lots of packing up while I rested.
I’d started taking a sleeping pill called Trazedone about six months before this trip began. I’d never been prescribed one before but my sleep was excruciatingly bad. I’ve always been a poor sleeper. Takes me forever to fall asleep, I don’t sleep soundly, I wake up at any sound or movement, and it’s hard to get back to sleep, and hard to get going every morning. My nurse practitioner prescribed this because it was non-narcotic, basically a failed anti-depressant, wasn’t habit-forming, and was supposed to let me wake up without feeling poorly. I’m really happy to report that at the time of this writing, I am no longer taking this medication. Meditation, routine, and better habits mean I sleep better than I used to, though not amazingly by any stretch – I will always be a light sleeper, I think. Still, that pill saved me most nights because otherwise I just wouldn’t have gotten any sleep.
We were slow to get going that day – Christine spilled her hot chocolate, which is always tragic when you work so hard for it! Many things feel more difficult when you’re camping. The act of assembling the stove and lighting it, filling the pot, adjusting the flame, and then waiting for everything to cool down before you can clean up – it all takes so much more time than we are used to in our usual worlds.
We drove to Moon Lake to check out the campgrounds – that was where I’d wanted to stay the previous night, but none of them were really enticing enough to stay there another night. We drove to Moon Lake Trail, a 9.2k moderate trail. It encircled the lake but we didn’t spend much time near it; instead, we hiked up through exposed field in the blistering sun.
We saw marmots, lots of bear scat speckled with berries, moose tracks, frogs, and lots of butterflies. We almost ran out of water. It was a tough slog and we were suffering a bit. But it was a learning experience too, because we had some major hikes planned, and I wanted to make sure my sister was up for it. She likes to hike but she’s newer to it, and she was using a lot of second-hand gear, which isn’t always the most comfortable thing. By the end, we were wearing our packs backwards because we were so uncomfortable – we just needed some air flow across our backs.
There weren’t a lot of lookouts or features on the hike to make it go by faster, but I know that I had a major sense of accomplishment by the time we were done. In fact, I think that was the hardest hike of our entire trip, including a 16k mountain that I will end up doing! I’m proud of my sister because even though it was hot and unpleasant, she found so much joy in the animals and made sure to get lots of pictures of them wherever they arrived. She is definitely the animal lover and I am the nature lover! We work well together and this was a lovely bonding experience.
Once we finished and returned to the car, we cooled down with water and took off our sweaty boots, getting back into sandals. We were on the road by 2pm. We drove to Swan River in Manitoba and got gas and filled up our water bottles in their sink. We also grabbed a Saskatchewan map. We crossed the border with NO fanfare! We were on the 77 highway, a more northern, dusty, long ass road. We were absolutely slaughtering insects with her car, it was disturbing. We had tried to call the tourist info to see if they had a stop on the 77, but the woman answering the phone didn’t know, and we don’t even know when we actually passed the border. We saw a moose on the road.
We tried to call a campground in Tisdale because it would have been almost 10pm by the time we got to Prince Albert National Park. The gps led us to a tiny airstrip that we hurriedly departed because I think we crossed some gate we weren’t allowed to. We found another campground, one for the Tisdale Lions. It was connected to a golf course and was in this dry, flat spread of land with young, desperate trees plunked between the sites. It was very exposed. It only cost $15, and the staff working there gave very few shits, so we snagged an electrical site.
I really enjoyed this campground. It was nice to set up on dry ground, and although there many campers, people seemed very respectful. We did some yoga to stretch out because we were super sore after the hike. We tried to fry eggs but ended up demolishing my shitty frying pan. Dinner was good, when we managed to make it happen.
We tried out the Floti for the first time that night, which was absolutely hilarious. You have to open it up and take running leaps to fill it with air, then roll and clamp the end. If you can get it full enough, it’s really comfy and nice to relax in. But it was so windy, the wind took it away from Christine and she had to chase it down!
There was a beautiful sunset that night, which lasted forever because the sun had to retreat below the already low horizon. There is something to be said about the flatlands. The moon was full and Christine and I practised a lot with the camera to get decent shots. Eventually we got a few. I remember this night being very peaceful. We’d arrived with plenty of light, and there was just the sense that it was retirement time. We picked up on that vibe and just enjoyed the night. The day was tough, with a slow morning, a rough hike, a change of plans, a long drive, and some uncertainty, but we moved through it.
It might have been fairly early by the time we went to bed. I read for a bit and called it a night.