Sunday, September 23, 2012

A weekend in the beautiful Cypress Hills

I have a confession to much as I have traveled the world I really haven't seen much of my own province.  We traveled to Moose Jaw when I was a kid to visit my dad's mother there.  Trips to the beach?  Maybe one or two thanks to a dad who didn't like eating outside and a mom who hated the water! Their idea of a holiday was driving to the mountains! (definitely NOT Saskatchewan terrain)   There was a family trip up to Waskiseu in 1982 but that's about the only place we ever visited besides Moose Jaw! . Thanks to my walking club I have been to a few different places such as North Battleford (not just driving through on the way to Edmonton), Batoche, Wolseley, Yorkton, Weyburn, Saskatoon and more. 

I have always wanted to visit the Cypress Hills in south west Saskatchewan - I have been to the Alberta side but never Saskatchewan.  So when my friend Dena asked me if I wanted to spend  the Labour Day weekend with her and her family at their 'cabin' in the Cypress Hills I jumped at the opportunity.

View from Dena's "cabin"
Dena's daughter Hali kindly gave me a ride out there and we chatted pretty well non-stop the whole way out as she loves to travel like me.  We met Dena at her mom's house and the four of us went to the Star Cafe in Maple Creek for supper.  Her mom and I had the fish and chips and enjoyed them but unfortunately Dena and Hali did not particularly enjoy their meals.  Dena was a naughty girl and paid the bill while I was in the toilet (now I know there was a method to her madness when she kept urging me to check out the bathroom).  I then drove to Cypress with Dena.  An amazing shift from prairie to forest an an amazing increase in altitude. We drove immediately to Dena and Randy's "cabin".  Yeah sure it's a cabin Dena!   It's a honkin' big house!  It was amazing - absolutely beautiful.   They are immediately across the road from Loch Leven and the boat rental shack.  Lots of canoes and paddle boats on the lake!   That evening after a walk around Loch Leven we had a bonfire outside followed by a soak in the hot tub.  Bliss!!! 

View from Lookout Point on a cloudy morning
The next morning after breakfast Randy and Dena took me on an auto tour of the area.  We visited  Lookout Point (highest point in Saskatchewan) and also Bald Butte - it was cloudy and so even if we had climbed it we wouldn't have seen much.    The smell of the Lodgepole pine was amazing and Dena and I picked cones off the ground so I could have a momento of my time here.  (they are now in a clear glass vase on a shelf in my living room)   We drove around the Centre block of the park to see the campgrounds and Amphitheatre and then Randy dropped us off at the visitor centre.  I had my one and only encounter with a moose there - a stuffed one!  We then picked up Hali and drove over to the west block of the park - we took a road over that was fairly rough and not navigable if it was wet. The Cypress hills are not true mountains but are rather the remnants of erosion of a Tertiary plateau of sediment formed during the initial uplift of the Rocky Mountains. We visited the Conglomerate Cliffs which were beautiful.  
Conglomerate Cliffs

View from Conglomerate Cliffs

View of Fort Walsh

Quote from Wikpedia:  "Because they formed a suture zone between the Laurentide and Cordilleran ice sheets, the Cypress Hills are the northernmost point in North America that remained south of the continental ice sheets during the Wisconsin glaciation"   We then drove over to Fort Walsh - we didn't go in as they have been there lots and I have been to enough North American forts to last me a lifetime!!  Fort Walsh was set up in 1875 as a base for the North West Mounted Police - now the Royal Canadian Mounted Police!   We then headed to the Cypress Hills winery for lunch - cheese and bread accompanied by a glass of Saskatoon berry wine - for me anyway!
Cypress Hills Winery

Dena, Randy and Hali - the Saskatoon wine was delish!

 I liked the wine so much I bought a bottle as well as another one (after a short wine testing).  The winery is lovely. 

 From there we headed back through Maple Creek to the cabin.  Dena and I went for a walk along one of the trails by her house.  What used to be a favourite place to see moose and deer is no more as there is a zip line which of course is punctuated by screaming people.  On the way back we visited the Cypress Hills resort. Very nice!  We relaxed the rest of the afternoon - well some of us did!  We had a beautiful barbequed steak dinner and Hali's friend Amanda joined us. Another sit down by the fire - this time with a London Fog! Then to bed. 

The next morning after a fabulous breakfast of French toast and bacon Randy and I went for a two hour walk in the area. We went on the Lodgepole Trail and Whispering Pines trail - we did see some deer and thought we'd seen a moose - turned out to be cows!!!  It was a lovely walk - poor Randy had to keep waiting for me between taking pictures and my vertigo with going down hills.   Thanks Randy for a great walk!!!

View along the hike
Beautiful scenery

Back to the cabin where I relaxed on the deck with a book.  Later that afternoon Dena and I went back to the Cypress Hills Lodge and went to an estate sale.  Lots of photographs and paintings but I wouldn't know where to put them so I settled for a photograph album for five dollars!

That evening we had home made chicken wings - delicious!!!  We then took a final walk around the lake and the area across the lake from the cabin.  I got some great shots of the lake with my phone.

Dena and Hali

A fisherman!

Late the next morning we drove into Maple Creek and raided Dena's parents' garden (ha, ha - just kidding!).  Dena's mom gave me some delicious cherry tomatoes as well as a huge honkin cucumber.  Then Hali and I hit the road back to Regina.

Thanks Dena, Randy and Hali for an awesome weekend!!!! 

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