Gorge Creek Trail: Riding Mountain National Park, MB
Gorge Creek Trail: Riding Mountain National Park, MB
Hiking the steep slopes of Gorge Creek trail
Another weekend and we were ready for sit-back-watch-tv mode as it’s October, cold weather with chilly winds has already taken guard against so called 2 months of summer. But hey we are true Manitoban’s, so let’s shake things up and go for a hike in hope of still finding a glimpse of beautiful autumn color Canada is known for.
As always first thing first, pass the bill by home minister, yes you got my point. This time Adi agrees in first attempt (although the odds were mostly against), and the reason IMO was the new shoes she bought just for hiking. Well I think this trick can work on any girl on this planet.
Gorge Creek Trail details
Trail Length,6.4 km (one-way)
Driving distance to trailhead from Wasagaming,27 km (40 minutes)
Driving distance to trailhead from Winnipeg,250 km
Alarm sound was very irritating at 4:30 AM on Saturday morning, but we were excited and were all set to hit the road. As soon as garage door opened, we both had a second thought for a second, it was foggy and cold. We both took an extra light jacket just in case, and the journey starts.
Cruising on perimeter highway through the prairies, waiting to for a sunrise, coffee in one hand and listening to “Rather Be ft. Jess Glynne”, it was not just a drive, it was THE DRIVE we wanted to do from long time.
When I am with you, there’s no place I’d rather be, As long as I am with you, my heart continues to beat
After some time the mighty Sun extended his arms and we can feel the warmth of the sunshine streaming through the window. The trees across the highway started showing their presence; waving leaves whatever are left, while we pass by and the sun rays shattered the fog possession, created a mystical effect which can only be felt. With changing song tracks, our destination was not that far now, and the Sun was still continuously fighting with clouds round after round, but clouds were too tough to beat.
We stopped our car at Esso Gas Station Neepawa, MB and as soon as we came out of car, the cold temperature bits us (too much comfortable temp in car). We rushed to wear our jackets as T-shirts not gonna cut anything here. Luckily Tim Hortons is there, lost some weight, grab a caffeine and increased sugar level with donuts and continued our ride.
We went to East Entrance gate as it the closest to our destination. As soon as you enter the park (you will know as it has a big gate), on right side there is a visitor center to get park permit.
And now we are out of the car, I started taking pictures because it is still autumn in park, yay yay. Just after a km drive you will find a big sign board with Gorge Creek on right. The road is one way and mostly look like for ATV’s, initially we thought it is wrong way, but took a chance drove through it to reach a parking spot. Well what a relief we are not all alone, a group guys gearing up for their bike ride (I’m missing my bike now L ). Cellular network is hit or miss here, so don’t rely on it.
This trail is open from both ends, where East side has steep climb at very beginning which can make you tired very early and get easier at the end and vice versa. Most people park the cars on other east end of trail, walk by road to reach west side and make it one way back to east as decent is easier at the end when you are already out of energy.
But we wanted to do two way, so chose east side to start. For the first 15-20 minutes you will very busy clicking pictures, even if you don’t like to. It is so beautiful, a blanket of yellow colored leaves of tall trees on both sides with just 4 feet wide path. A small channel of water flowing on one side with an old wooden bridge to cross it, a perfect place to get lost.
The trail was covered with yellowish brown leaves and it was all wet probably due the dew factor and it rained couple days before too, so soon the excitement turns into challenge to climb that steep mountain, it was hard to maintain consistent distance between us. Adi climbing at her own pace and I was just pushing my legs more determinedly, at one time we were too far that we have to shout to check on each other. The only color that we could see was yellow, but one thing is for sure, whatever starts will definitely end.
I shouted as loud as my lungs allowed me at that time, “we are at top, just little more Adi”. A nice gesture: old wooden bench made of logs to sit and relax, but we decided not to break the rhythm. We thought hard part is over and picked up the speed enjoying our talks and started sweating as Sun could reach us directly now.
Soon we were at one end of the mountain to realize we are walking on the edge. A deep ditch on one side and tall trees on small cliffs on other and that 4 feet was merely 2 feet now. It was a gravel path which increased the risk of skidding and going down 100’s of feet into jungle.
The view from top, the Sun, the breeze and loneliness forced us to sit together and have a moment of our life to stop.
A little further and we reached the Escarpment, a little misstep and we would definitely be calling 911. Taking baby steps and feeling good that we didn’t wasted money on hiking shoes, crossed that stretch. This trail has lot of steep fall and rise, so sometimes it was very hard to control the pace going down. As of now for us this was the toughest stretch but as soon as we crossed it, here is a new one “The stairs”.
They are not normal stairs, more than a feet in height with different for each step making it so steep you actually have to put pressure on your knees with hands to climb, a rope on side for support and you can’t the other end. Almost lost our motivation to go further and then heard a noise, a mom with two kids (not more than 5-6 years) with a dog came running from opposite side. If they can do it, we can do it.
There were many stairs on the trails, with longest one yet to come but we were ready, and now we were at easier end of trail and can hear the vehicle noise as we were very near to end. And here it is, the other end, and as soon as we sat and drank our protein shake Adi stared me like I was busted. You know why, remember a surprise in my plan J
Now we had two options, take easier option: walk by road and go home or hit back to trail and enjoy it once again. This time we were aware of the challenges we can face, so we decided to take “A walk to remember” option. We completed return hike very quickly and almost beat our time by 45 minutes.
Once we reach at parking, had our lunch and decided to go to Clear Lake just for drive and glad we did. It was a glorious evening, cold but not too close (as per Winnipeg standards), the sun started its lazy descent, shadows lengthened and the light started turning everything to gold.
It’s time to head back home, with another a day to remember and share.