Our family has always spent their leisure time outdoors. Camping, hiking, snowshoeing, canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking, skiing – you name it, we probably like it. Maybe it is just that we like campfires, well any fire actually, and being outdoors allows for us to feed that need.
My two sons and I started planning to do the Mantario trail some time ago. We live in Manitoba, so if you want any multi-day hikes, it is either this one, or one of the trails in Riding Mountain National Park. Beyond that we are driving or driving and flying.
We got together at Josh’s in Beausejour to get our packs sorted out (we all live in different places), made sure they all weighed about the same, said goodbye to our families and headed down Highway 44. As with most long trails that are not loops, you need 2 vehicles or you have to arrange in advance for someone to pick you up at the spot you will end up at – at the time you are supposed to be there. We took two vehicles. When we got to the corner of Hwy 312 just past Rennie we turned into the South Trailhead parking lot just off the north side of the highway. Parked one vehicle in a large parking lot, made sure we had the keys with us, loaded all the gear into the other and backtracked to Hwy 44, turned towards Rennie and then turned onto Hwy 309 which will take us to the North Trailhead at the top of Big Whiteshell Lake.
So as it was getting late into the day, we planned on staying at the Big Whiteshell Lake Provincial Park campsite, then get up early in the morning and start the hike. That worked out reasonably well other than there is nobody at the Park late at night, and you can’t get any firewood either – only available for purchase. So we set up our tent, scrounged around for firewood and cooked steak, fried potatoes with onions and mushrooms for supper. We sat around the fire for a bit, then packed our bags into the truck in the event any bears were around.