We woke at Spruce Wood Provincial Park Manitoba. We had arrived there in the middle of the night and pitched a tent as quietly as we could and everyone fell immediately asleep. In the morning we lit a fire and Hana cooked a quick breakfast so that we could find the time for a long hike through the Spirit Sands and then find somewhere to swim because it was already starting to get very hot.
The Spirit Sands are a series of Sand dunes sacred to the traditional people of this spectacular part of Manitoba. Home to the “Devil’s Punchbowl”, the hognose snake and many pincushion cacti, it is definitely worth the 4 km hike – because with small children, you MAY wonder at some point, while climbing sand covered steep hills that feel like mountains in the sweltering heat, if it is worth it.
After returning from the hike we headed for Winnipeg and straight for the Forks. We shopped the market and picked up some fresh food for the van. We played in the gardens, and then hit the road for Ontario and drove through the whole night, and stopped at the day sight at Kakabeka falls for some shut eye. When we realized we’d pushed it too far, we headed to Thunder Bay for some coffee and breakfast, and then on to Sault Ste. Marie.
When we got to Marathon we discovered that the Highway was closed due to an accident, so we had to hang out and wait. We decided to head to Shriber Beach on Lake Superior. Wow. We had a picnic there, collected beautiful sea glass and did a little hike of the coast.
Eventually the highway opened back up and we headed towards the Saulte where our family lives, and spend a couple of days there hanging out before continuing the journey East.
Some people have questioned our plans to head so far north, especially with four children. There were even times when I questioned it myself because of the remote wilderness we were heading into. We want the kids to experience Canada’s raw beauty, diverse geography and ecclectic culture so that they have a true perspective on their own country. The first day we drove from Grande Prairie AB all the way to Muncho Lake BC. It was very late when we got there and the sites were full so we slept on the floor of the van in sleeping bags. We didn’t mind the lumps and bumps, because our first stop the next morning was the Liard wilderness hotsprings.
This was our second time visiting Liard hotsprings. The reason we love it so much is because it is a wilderness spring with natural bottom, trees plants dirt etc, unlike the concrete pools that the other springs we’ve visited have been fed into. The water is very hot at the top, and cools as you walk to the bottom of the lower level. There is also a boardwalk that allow you to see the rare orchids that grow and fish that live there because of the microclimate caused by the hotsprings. From Liard we headed towards the Yukon, and we were lucky enough to spot 18 black bear and three grizzlies. We also saw herds of bison, elk, fox, moose and deer.
When we got to the Yukon border there was a beautiful park and beach awaiting us. We swam and built a fire for lunch. After we were all refreshed we headed to Watson Lake in order to see the sign post forest. The kids had a ton of fun running through the signs, playing hide and seek and reading about all of the places people have come from to see Canada’s beautiful north.
When we finished playing we headed to Whitehorse. It was the summer solstice so there was a lot of celebrating going on. We were going to stay at the Robert Service campground but the energy was too high for the kids, so we sought refuge from the blinding midnight sun in the comfort of a hotel room. There was a lot of discussion about the adventures that awaited us in the morning as we would make our way further north.