This is a continuation of an earlier post about my largely aimless wanderings around the Whitesehell Provincial Park area this past summer. If you missed part one, you can read about it here.
After my not-so-close encounters of the very distant kind behind me, it was time to think up a place for a cache of our own. My wife and I had thought we’d setup a geocache for fun that would be close by to my family’s cabin. That way we could see who all found it and the goodies they may have left without having to wander very far through the bush. That last part will become rather important to any and all a few posts down the road, methinks.
But before that, it was time for some serious head cleaning. I was on vacation dammit. And by God, I was going to relax, both physically and spiritually.
Every year, I always make an effort to head off to a very special part of Star Lake, the lake where my family’s cabin lies. You see, Star Lake is not a very big lake. Or a very deep one. The deepest part of the lake is around 20-25 feet deep. And that’s just the deepest parts. Most of it is a bit shallower. So It is basically a really big swimming pool. With fish. And weeds. And leaches. And no pool boy (see the part about the weeds and leaches). Now, one of my Uncles is a bit of a scavenger, and managed to find some small, plastic, toy kayaks for the cabin. Probably got them from his favourite shopping place – the dump. These little guys won’t win any awards in the looks department, and I am certain many an outdoorsman would scoff that anyone calling these big plastic tubs a kayak, but they are perfect for this lake. Especially if you want to go far into the shallow, weedy marshes that much of Star Lake drains into.
I love going in these marsh-like areas since they are generally well protected from the winds and are always dead calm. And since they are so shallow, there is very little chance of me being bothered by water-skiers and other boaters. The large motors on the beats will get tangled on the weeds or the boat will bottom out on the rocks in the shallow ends of the bays. I’m usually in only a two or three feet of water. It also means, that until only a few years ago when we got the kayaks, I never really had much of the chance to see this part of the Lake. So every year I jump at the chance to hop in a kayak and head for the other side of the lake for some peace and quiet.
This year I managed to get out there twice.
I also took it upon myself to explore another part of the Whiteshell that was foreign to me – the northern part. Much of the Whiteshell is left undeveloped on purpose. To make it look more natural. The southern part of the park is much more “civilized” than the northern part. My family rarely went much further north than Caddy Lake, and there’s quite a bit more of the Park beyond that. So we decided to check out the Bannock Point Petroforms.
I had heard about the artificial rock formations before. The Whiteshell Provincial Park even uses one as part of their logo. But as mentioned, before, I had never made it out that far into the Park before. As it turned out, they had guided tours in the evenings over the summer, so we decided to go then.
It was really cool. I’m kicking myself for not going earlier.
A quick word of warning to any and all who are thinking go going to check the place out. This area and these petroforms are still sacred to many First Nations people in the area. It turns out it is still a very active site. Many people leave offerings and prayers behind. Usually in the form of tobacco, copper coins like pennies, and pouches of brightly coloured cloth behind. THEY ARE NOT TO BE DISTURBED. Along with the stone formations as well. People have gotten into their head to sometimes rearrange the stone formations, ultimately destroying artifacts that may have been laid down thousands of years earlier. It is thoughtless, stupid and pathetic. Look with your eyes people.
While we were on tour, our guide told us that scientists believe the petroforms are about 1.5 – 2 thousand years old. Perhaps older. Stone formations are hard to date and there are no biological remains to Carbon date. Local tribal Elders feel the formations are much, much older. Many of the formations in the area open to tourists have been adultered in one way or another over the years (see my little rant in the previous paragraph), but there is another area, not easily accessible where the formations are believed to have been untouched by careless people. In fact, this entire area has the largest known concentration of petroforms in the world! The true meaning behind many of the formations are unknown and open to interpretation. Though the most common formations are turtles and snakes, and are believed to represent lakes and rivers.
The only downside of an evening tour especially one in late August, is a rather long drive back in the dark. The Park has a very large deer population. Thankfully no incidents to report coming back.
A geocache of my own?
At the end of our vacation, we found a spot I was certain was a good spot for our geocache. Turns out later I was wrong – it was a bit too close to another cache – but I did like the spot and I thought was a rather clever hiding spot, with lots and lots of hide-y-holes to keep people guessing for a while. Found out much later, it wasn’t really a great idea. Not only was I too close, it seems you need to get permission from the Park authorities for a spot. Meant I was off to the Whiteshell for a do-or-die mission to retrieve our rashly placed box of ill-gotten gains and find a new place somewhere else. And then get permission from the Park. Which as of this writing, I am still waiting for. I have a feeling it may be a very, very long wait. Meaning, I may have to think of something (or someplace) entirely different.
I will keep everyone posted.