On February 8, 2023 some friends headed west on the Crow Wing Trail from the entrance to Senkiw Swinging Bridge. They hoped they would have the stamina to make it through the unknown snow conditions and to reach their destination of Thunderwolf, the new convenience store, at Lot G-17 on Road 13N in South Roseau Rapids. The first part of this trail section is on private land, where they snowshoed along a meadow, beside the Roseau River, up and down a ravine, over 2 foot bridges, and through oak and poplar groves. They were cheered on by a blue jay and enjoyed watching the air show of a raven. They were thrilled with the clear visibility of vines which are often too hard to spot amidst summer foliage. The hairy crocus-like seed fringe of the Western Virgin Bower clematis was cottony soft. The Bittersweet Celatrus Scandens vine stretched to the top of a young oak. They were fortunate that they found one little red seed head on the snow so they got a good view of the uniqueness of the intricacies of the layers. Numerous bright red-orange fruit clusters of several high bush cranberry stands added a festive cheer to the scenery and were also a frosty sour treat that couldn’t help but bring a smile and a heart filled with thankfulness to the travellers. While the friends had seen a few tracks of ruffed grouse, squirrel, deer and coyote, things got a little more interesting when they headed down the undeveloped road allowance area along 13N. A wider path of mixed wildlife tracks emerged along with a few brownish drops of blood and then larger, brighter red circles of blood. Had the tracks come from a coyote hot on the trail of a wounded deer? They followed the blood trail for over a quarter mile before the tracks turned south away from the Crow Wing Trail where they saw a few downy soft bits of fur – possibly a snowshoe hare? In the next half mile they saw several deer antler rubbing spots on a few young poplar trees and as well what looked like bear claw scratches. The scull, claws and hide of a skunk, along with a little whiff of that special odour were the only remains of someone’s recent meal. A pileated woodpecker had evidently been busy according to the cavity in an old poplar tree and the amazing deposit of wood-chips strewn over the snow. Snowdrifts were deeper and harder as the friends continued west, adding the fun of walking on the surface of snow without breaking through, along with the occasional unexpected vibration of a snow quiver deep in the snow under foot. It was not all smooth sailing as the full story does include a few surprising knee bends and nose dives when a snowshoe tip broke through the snow and a foot got caught under the snow crust! Mouth open – it was time for a snowsicle! While the friends were very thankful that it was a wonderfully bright sunny, warm winter day they were beginning to feel the effects of all the fresh air and exercise and were relieved they were almost to their destination. Feb 8 23 Pics SB to Thunderwolf They looked forward to something to drink and a snack. Their journey took about two and a half hours. The friends were very thankful to Rachel for the great welcome, visit, refreshing tea, energizing chocolate bars and peanuts! As well as the bonus of Rachel’s 1st stamping of a Crow Wing Trail Passport. They look forward to a return visit to check out Rachel’s evolving inventory including her beautiful handmade moccasins, soap and her own line of make-up and apparel. For more details: www.ojibwecosmetics.com
This testimonial is a blog from an Ontario couple who walked the Trans Canada Trail from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. www.comewalkacrosscanada.blogspot.com/
They are avid bird watchers and there are many great pictures! Here are links to the sections specific to the Crow Wing Trail from July 7 to 10, 2021. It’s like doing the trail from your home.
1. Crow Wing Trail : St. Norbert to Niverville
2. 5 Concessions West, 5 South, 5 East : Niverville to St-Pierre-Jolys
3. Canadian Camino: St. Pierre Jolys to St. Malo
4. Excuse me while I check for Ticks : St. Malo to Some Trees
5. Under a Hard Sun : Hutterite Forest to Emerson
6. Around Emerson…Southern Manitoba’s Hidden Birding Hotspot
This testimonial is from a blog post taken from the Mennotoba website by Erin Unger, posted on May 24th 2021. It’s a great way to look for inspiration for taking shortcuts for the trail or just for taking it in smaller sections. https://www.mennotoba.com/im-a-crow-wing-trail-cheater/
“June 2019… we started by hitching a ride to Emerson with our daughter and walked 170 kms of the trail home to Winnipeg (omitting the flooded parts by the Red River at Emerson, and part of the trail through St. Norbert). We spaced our walks according to where we could find friends and B and B’s along the way. The trek took five days. Partly we wanted a physical challenge for our 60-something bodies. We’d enjoyed a month-long pilgrimage on Spain’s Camino de Santiago two years earlier, and we pined for a long local hike. We wanted to absorb the geography, flora and fauna of southern Manitoba close-up at 5 kms an hour—not speeding along Highway 200 at 20 times that speed. We also had to satisfy our growing interest in the history of white settlement in the mid -nineteenth century; the Trail was a key part of that saga. On all counts, the hike fit the bill amazingly. Sore feet notwithstanding, for us it was Manitoba’s best-kept secret in stay-cations. Kudos to the Crow Wing Trail Association for its careful maintenance and clear signage on the trail, and best wishes as you keep developing this treasure! At a time when light carbon footprints and healthy living are gaining traction, this is an option we’d highly recommend.”
Our walk on the Crow Wing Trail started just outside of Winnipeg near the floodway. We undertook the journey in stages, 8 in all, during the summer of 2021. Limited by the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, we saw a way of staying healthy by opting to walk, thus undertaking an activity that is very pleasant and has minimal risks. Our experience – having done four pilgrimages together on the ‘ways’ in Spain – had prepared us well and we had become great travel companions.
At first sight, our expectations concerning this project were rather modest. We were familiar with the large expanses of the prairies, the vast quilt of the seeded fields and the infinitely blue Manitoba sky. However, as we read the many resources available on the Association’s web site and those found from other resources, we quickly realized that the chemin St-Paul/Crow Wing Trail held many more interesting dimensions such as history, geography and the natural sciences. The route also allowed us to appreciate the diversity of the communities of the region, each one of them with its own particular history. Treading the same routes used by the famous Red River ox carts recalled images of caravans with squeaking wheels transporting pelts, furs and a variety of products. Walking beside the First Nations’ ancestral grounds reminded us of the presence of these people on this land long before the Europeans arrived. In short, it was a very enriching experience which helped grow our appreciation for this interesting region of the province.
We say «bravo!» to all those whose devotion and hard work realized this great project. We very much appreciated the interpretive panels, rest stops, signage that guided our way and general trail maintenance. We wish the Crow Wing Trail Association Chemin St-Paul a beautiful and long life !
Finally we want to thank our wives who would come meet us at the end of each step to bring us back to the starting point and then to Winnipeg … not to mention the delicious meals that they would bring us !