We've meandered up a grassy pathway, snapping photos of the season's last wild roses, trying desperately to remember the name of that elegant peachy bloom with the long tails. But my walking mate and I soon abandon that conversation. I want to hear more about his summer working up north as a young man. "I worked so hard and I was so tired that I made a decision right then and then to go to university and get an engineering degree. I never wanted to work that hard again!"
And this is how it goes when you're on an excursion with Prairie Pathfinders. You walk a little, seeing the landscape in a way that you'll never experience from the passenger side window of a moving vehicle. And you talk a little, discovering that the gal you've just helped tiptoe across the creek has a cottage right down the lane from yours.
Prairie Pathfinders is a Winnipeg-based walking club that has been encouraging folks to take a hike since 1999. Their out of town adventures include daytrips with moderate hikes and spectacular suppers. They also host longer getaways for the more advanced hiker, such as the four-day Northern Manitoba tour that includes a hike at Pisew Falls, the province's biggest drop.
If you've only got a day, I suggest the Back to the Land Tour in the Pembina Valley (mark your calendar for June 26). The day is filled with moments that will give you plenty of ammunition to dispute the notion that Manitoba is flat.
At a high point above the Oak Valley Outdoor Theatre just outside the village of La Riviere, gaze upon the Mary Jane Creek, catch a glimpse of that bald eagle and take a photo. Now say it out loud, "Wow, this is Manitoba!"
But let's get back to those spectacular suppers. At the end of the day as the sun is getting low on the horizon, you'll roll into the hamlet of Clearwater. Supper is waiting. A bright bowl of garden greens, baked potatoes with Bothwell Cheese, homemade bacon bits and young green onions, tomatoes sliced in quarters, freshly baked buns, roasters of roast pork, Manitoba strawberry shortcake with farm fresh whipped cream and all of it from our very own province.
Get on Tour!
May 14: Camp Morton Hike & Lunch
June 5-7: The Western Tour
June 26: Pembina Valley Hiking Tour
Aug. 28-31: The Northern Tour
Sept. 17-19: Riding Mountain Hiking Festival
Tip: For $25, you can join the Winnipeg walking club and put sneaker to pavement in almost 100 walks throughout the year. Sure you'll stay in shape, but you'll also collect great ideas for new landscaping projects and maybe learn a thing or two about the city's diverse neighbourhoods.