Mantario Trail - August 2009
Well, just like my WCT report, this one is running a bit late, but figured I'd share anyway. I was working in Gimli, MB this summer and ended up with 3 days of leave to use. I came here asking for hiking trips in Manitoba and had lots of recommendations for the Mantario Trail. From the time I decided to go hiking to the time I started was about 3 days, so not a lot of planning went into it. MEC was sold out of the trail map, and the other place in Winnipeg that sold it wasn't open while I was in the city. I ended up finding a copy online and printing that off. Unfortunately though, it didn't have distances of any kind on it. Unfortunately, due to the very short planning period for this hike, I couldn't find anyone to come with me. It was my first solo hike. It was about a 3 hour drive from Gimli to the trail, and I had no way of getting to the north trail head, so I had to hike north, and then back south to my vehicle.
For those that don't know, this area of Manitoba is all Canadian Shield. Hiking on this trail changes quickly from low areas in boggy forest, to high spots on rock. The elevation changes wouldn't have been too much, but it was always changing.
Starting at the south trail head:
It is a self-guided trail. You always have to be on the lookout for these arrows posted on trees, or little rock formations. Sometimes I found there were unnecessarily large numbers of arrow signs close together, and other times, there definitely should have been more. I lost the trail a good few times, and if I hadn't been good with a topo map and compass, I would have been in trouble.
As I said, the trail was often in boggy forest, and so it was pretty much a mosquito nesting ground. And guess who forgot bug spray...
There are a couple beaver dams that you need to cross, which was pretty neat.
I came across some wildlife out on the trail. I watched this deer for a couple minutes before trying to get a picture, at which point, it decided to move on.
I saw bear tracks before I ever saw signs of humans.
A couple hours into the trail you get to a fork. West takes you to a campsite at the south side of Caribou Lake, and east keeps you going to the north trail head. I decided to take the 2.5 km detour to the west to have lunch, and then 2.5 km back to the fork before heading north again.
One of my favorite pictures.
After Lunch, I went back south to the fork, and then headed north to continue on the trail. I hiked until Marion Lake, where I set up camp for the night.
Today my plan was to hike a ways north, have lunch, and then start heading back south, ending at the north-east campsite at Caribou Lake.
I came to another fork, where the west side continues to the north trail head, and the east goes to Peggy Lake, for a canoe/portage trail. I decided to go east and have lunch at the lake.
I got down to the water, and found some canoes lying around, so I borrowed one for about an hour and a half.
I went across the lake and ate my lunch on a bit of a peninsula type of thing.
After eating, I canoed back and started the hike back to the south trail head. I still hadn't seen any people by this point in the trip. I saw some more wildlife along the way, including a group of roughed grouse.
When I got to Caribou Lake campsite, I was surprised to see 2 other hikers there. We chatted for a bit and then I went to set up camp and have some supper. The weather was beautiful, and the water was calm as glass. I went for a swim across the lake, which ended up being much further than it looked. Took some more pictures tonight which I think turned out great.
The combination of the sunset and the calm water made for some beautiful sights; I think I took a hundred photos this night alone.
Today I had to finish the trip back to the south trail head. It was another great day for hiking, and I came across a few groups of hikers heading north. I didn't take pictures until this day, but there were wild blueberries everywhere. I was constantly eating them all day everyday.
And back at the parking lot for the 3 hour trip back to Gimli.
Well, all in all it was a sweet trip. I worked out later that I hiked about 65 km. I had fantastic weather except for about 30 minutes of torrential downpour on the first day. I ended up hiding under a tree for the duration of it, because I wasn't really in a rush. Being that this was my first solo hike, I wasn't sure how I would like it. I enjoyed the hiking, and was able to go at my own pace. At camp I enjoyed the quiet, but I definitely would say I prefer having other people around. That being said, I wouldn't be opposed to do more solo hiking, if I couldn't find anyone else to go with. It was really nice being around so many lakes with such great weather. I stopped a couple times each day to go for a swim. (This is probably why I had mosquito bites on every square inch of my body)5
And just like I did for my WCT TR, here is a link to a few more pics if anyone would like to see.
If you had blueberries then it was probably August, which means fewer bugs than July. In July you're feasting on the blackflies, not the blueberries. :)
I miss the Sheild (but not the bugs).
Nice! Good to see my old stompin grounds :) That's a good trail, and it looks like they've increased the signage a bit. Is the detour towards Caribou still on an old road? I usually avoid that section because I've foud it kinda boring, just brushy. Past Marion lake, you really get a great feel for the shield :) I've done that trip a few times, once with a friend and we got around the one vehicle problem with bicycles to create a loop and that was a really enjoyable way to finish.
Thanks for the report!
No, we dropped our bikes at the south end. Locked em to a tree and away we went. It only took about 2 hours to complete the first part of the shuttle, and the bike ride itself took about 3 or 4 hours, so you need to plan your last day accordingly. The final drive back to pick up the packs gets tedious but it's totally worth it.
Another fantastic way to do the trail is by canoe. It's a great solo outing if you can get a friend to drop you off and pick you up again.
If you spend a lot of time in Gimli then you can pick up sea-kayaking or sailing on the Lake. My fiancee grew up in Gimli :) There's also lots of whitewater paddling on the Winnipeg river, and also some milder stuff on the Whiteshell river if that's your thing.
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