Day 10: Blackstrap to Prince Albert National Park
Day 10 was a perfect 10! Paddleboarded twice, no bus issues, and a short drive to a spectacular National Park.
It started off with coffee and breakfast in the bus and then moved the bus to the boat launch at Blackstrap lake. I inflated the paddleboard and walked down to the lake. To my surprise the water wasn't all that cold, but it was filled with little algae pieces. While not that odd, it does make the water less enticing for a swim. I paddled for about an hour and then needed to hit the road. I deflated the paddleboard and took a hot shower in the bus before hitting the road.
It was only about 4 hours of driving (with stops) and I arrived at Prince Albert National Park. This year is Canada's 150th Anniversary so all of the National Parks are free (even for US citizens). I'd read a little bit about this park when planning the trip and knew it had a lake for paddleboarding, but wow. the brochure way undersold this place. As soon as I pulled into the park I was wanting to extend my stay. The lake, for one, is HUGE. It's also calm and lined with Aspen and Pine trees. Yes, after days and days of farmland I was back in a forest. In my first hour alone I saw a deer and an elk. We parked at the "beach" parking and I took Pepper out for a walk and to get the lay of the land.
In the middle of the park is Waskesiu township. A small town of about 2 blocks, but probably 200 private homes. Then there is Lake Waskesiu, the main attraction in this area of the park. It's about 2 miles wide and about 4 miles long. Huge. Way too big to paddleboard all of it. But I couldn't wait to get out there and paddle at least part of it! I loaded Pepper back into the bus (tired from our walk) and we headed to our campside to set up and unpack the paddleboard. The campsite is about 100 from the waters edge in one of the little neighborhoods within Waskesiu township. The site itself is pretty standard, but Pepper really likes the cool grass and I like that there is plenty of sun for the solar panels. There are lots of trees around as well so I don't feel like we're in a parking lot or right next to other campers. I inflate the paddleboard and head for the lake. It's not a long walk, about 100 yards as I mentioned, but it's relatively flat and all lush green native grass. I can feel the smile on my face getting bigger and bigger as the lake comes into view. I put the board on the water shove off and jump on. The suns out, its warmed to about 70 (though feels warmer) and the water is cool but not freezing. Perfect. I paddled for about 2 hours and only saw a small percentage of this gorgeous place. Unlike Blackstrap lake, the water here is clear and there are fewer jet skis and speed boats zooming around (largely because the lake is just so huge).
After paddleboarding I head back to the bus to feed Pepper and take her for another walk. Then I walk into town to do some sightseeing. “Town” is tiny. Like two blocks. But it’s a nice walk and I picked up a couple of souvenirs. Back to the bus to make my own dinner (pasta with grilled chicken).
This is definitely a place I want to visit again. Unfortunately, I have to move on tomorrow. But I think I can delay my departure until mid-afternoon so I can go for another paddle.
Elk #2 walked by as I was writing this post!