Under a crystal clear blue sky, with a kaleidoscope of fall colours as a backdrop 42 intrepid hikers showed up to walk the entire length of Pinawa’s Great Trail, 44 if we include Jasper and Tucker.
In the run up to this event, hosted by myself on behalf of the Pinawa Friends of the Trans Canada Trail, I started to get nervous about the number of people expressing interest. At the very least I thought people were pulling my leg. The names on my email list read like the United Nations. Where are all these people coming from?
I hired a bus but thought “it may not hold us all, or it may be empty.” I had no clue. When Ray and I pulled up to Seven Sisters and the parking lot was full, I almost cried. How cool is this going to be! We had people come in all the way from Brandon. I met Ala, from Jordon originally and asked her “Is this the furthest you’ve ever walked?” “Oh no, we have very long hikes in Jordon.” Maybe a country I need to put on my travel list.
The Eduvacay bus transported a standing room only crowd from Seven Sisters Generating Station to Old Pinawa Dam Provincial Park. Tucker got to ride right at the front of the bus. He loves rides and hiking, he was in heaven. There were 8 more people to meet up with us at Old Pinawa. After waiting for everyone to use the biffy, next one is not until Pinawa, and taking the requisite group photo we were off. The morning pace was brisk, surprisingly so and the group stayed pretty tight. Carole and I shared this leg, just hiking and chatting, a beautiful walk in the woods. We all met back up at the Suspension Bridge, where we bumped into Steve Sheppard working on trail maintenance, and managed to grab another group photo. An hour later we were ordering lunch at the Pinawa Club.
Quite a few people had planned to stop here, including Ray and Tucker but when Ray went to take Tucker home, he would have none of it. My little dog ended up walking the entire way with us, and so did Ray.
Hikers started to spread out along the Ironwood Trail. We had some fast walkers up there, and Fran had a deadline. There’s no way of getting lost from here on so I didn’t even try to keep up. I walked this leg of the journey with my sister Deborah and Charity. When we got to the hydro road, 5.3 kilometres to go and we can see the dam I was worn right out. I think we all were. Tucker was tuckered and he kept looking up at me, asking with his eyes “How much further?” When we finally got to the dam, Charity sat down on the ground to wait for the others. We were about middle of the pack. That looked so good, but if I get down there I might not get back up. I sat down anyway. What a relief. What was hard to believe was Tucker, after all that way when he heard Ray’s voice he ran like a puppy to greet him. He’s going to hurt tomorrow, I fear.
One more photo in the mirror (a tradition) and we were all off for burgers and beer at The Tourist Hotel. We weren’t a tight group any more, some people had gone home and some were way back and asked us not to wait. 29 kilometres is a very long way, we all agreed to that. Pinawa’s Great trail is phenomenal, another thing we all agreed on.
I’d like to thank everyone who joined us, turning this annual hike into a real event, Tim Stefanishyn for the bus ride, The Pinawa Club and Tourist Hotel for sustenance and Mother Nature for delivering up such beautiful weather for us.
Until next year…
Images from the trail