Backyard Bounties

‘We have the best backyard in the world’ is something that is often said when talking about being Canadian. It’s a reference to the stunning beauty of our unspoiled wilderness and its absolutely true. Whether you are in B.C. looking at the Rockies, the coastal cliffs of the east coast, or the vast tundra of the territories, every province has something amazing to offer that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world (except Saskatchewan, that place sucks).

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Sorry Saskatchewan, there’s just nothing interesting about you

When talking to people online about where i’m from, I often say that I have the ‘best backyard’ and I really do mean it. Here in south eastern Manitoba I have the luxury of being right on the edge of the Canadian Shield, and all the various plants, animals, and terrain that comes with it.

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Plenty to see and do not far from home

It’s a fact that a huge percentage of the Canadian population is rural, i.e. lives outside of a big city. It is therefore extremely unfortunate in my opinion that so few people ever really explore whats right in their own backyards.

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It’s a wide, bright world out there

My original plan for today was to spend a day out on a lake somewhere, however the forecast called for thunderstorms this morning and when I woke up it was grey and gloomy, so I stayed in. Of course, by afternoon it was 27 degrees and sunny, and too late to pack up the kayak. I figured I should probably still do something outside and decided to take the dogs for a quick hike.

They know where we are headed

They know where we are headed

While I was on the way to the local gravel pits, I figured I would collect some berries while I was hiking. I also figured that since it was so hot out, we would stop at the swimming hole on the way out and let the dogs have a drink and cool down. It struck me as I arrived that all of these little things I take for granted are things that a lot of people just wouldn’t think to do, or wouldn’t think that they could do.

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It’s amazing what you can find when you just park somewhere quiet

A gravel pit is an innocuous little feature you may have passed a thousand times on the highway, and have likely never stopped to explore, however they often hold enormous potential. These particular pits are only a few minutes from home, and have miles and miles of trails through them and the forest around them. Some parts are used for dirt-biking, some are used for shooting, and one of the bigger ones has been filled with water and makes a great beach and swimming area.

Fun for everyone!

Fun for everyone!

I parked the truck, let the dogs out and started up the trail. It was quickly apparent that I had missed the Saskatoon berry season by a couple weeks or so, but there were big healthy blueberries all over the place!

Who could resist?

Who could resist?

I wandered around in the bush picking berries for awhile, which was perfectly fine with the dogs. I didn’t end up with a whole lot, especially with as many as I just ate, but hey, better than nothing. After about 45 minutes I was getting bored and the dogs were starting to really feel the heat so I made my way back to the trail and headed to the truck. Naturally, before we got back to the truck, the dogs found the one muddy puddle on the trail to roll around in.

What mud?

What mud?

We made the quick drive down the trail to the swimming hole, which the dogs desperately needed. The beach was empty (not that it’s ever crowded) and the water was clear and warm. The dogs jumped right in and swam around for awhile. It didn’t take them long to cool off and get tired out so we headed out to the highway and back home.

Crystal clear water and a sandy beach, fun for the whole family

Crystal clear water and a sandy beach, fun for the whole family

It’s a place I’ve spent a lot of time over the years, shooting, hiking, swimming, picking berries, and all in all just enjoying spending time outdoors with my dogs. It never really occurred to me that it was anything special, but lately I’ve realized that it’s a hidden treasure which many people would otherwise pass over, and that’s a real shame.

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You don’t find these little spots of heaven by staying home

You don’t always need to drive an hour to the nearest park or campground. Next time you are out and about, take a look around, pay particular attention to those innocent looking gravel trails leading off to the side.

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An unassuming path holds endless possibilities

Taking a few minutes of your time to check them out may uncover a whole new bountiful world for you, right in your back yard.

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