Winnipeg (MB) - Gimli (MB) / March 29 to April 5, 2016
On Tuesday, March 29, our friend Denis drove us to the edge of Lake Winnipeg (at Sans Souci, more precisely). Once the car was emptied of all the equipment we will need in the coming months, we said goodbye to our good friend who has done so much for us. It was with heavy hearts that we watched him leave. We are so grateful for his help, support and the last few days we spent in his company.
When we were alone, we realized that now it was real … It was true! A new star was ahead of us! We were where we wanted to be for so long. Twenty months of adventure waiting for us and many new experiences to come!
After our first night, near the launch used by ice fishermen, we woke up in a beautiful place filled with a white horizon tinted by the warm colors of the rising sun. David Brand and his colleague, Larry, of The North West Company came to visit us before our departure. They had wished us a good and safe trip before. They gave us some surprises and took pictures. They were the last familiar faces we saw before the big start. Thank you both for your visit.
We took our first steps onto Lake Winnipeg, on its ice and snow, and started pulling the canoe. Crampons on our boots, we made good progress during the morning. The sun was present and there were only light winds. After a break for lunch, we resumed our walk, but now, the snow on the ice was sticky and progress was difficult. In the distance, we saw the pressure ridge rising. We decided to stop to set up our first camp on the lake and enjoy the last hours of sunshine. The cold settled in quickly in the late afternoon.
The next morning, it was cold (around -14C). The wind picked up shortly after starting our walk. By late morning, we were treated with gusty winds of at least 40 km/ h. Nothing stops the course of the wind here. Along the way, we met fishermen from Wisconsin. We talked a while before continuing our journey along the pressure ridge. We set up camp in a place sheltered by a point of land. It was a good decision. During the night, the wind gusted to 70 km / h.
On Friday, we began our walk later in the day. Moving beyond the point that had protected us all night, the wind was cold and blowing between 25 and 45km/h. Nothing like our first day on the lake! We headed for land, aiming for a gravel road. We put the canoe on it’s portage wheels and started walking toward Gimli. In town, we were first stopped by the Mayor (Randy Woroniuk) and then we met Rob Jantz. After walking on the road for about 16km, we found an ideal place to set up our camp. Rob came by and offered his help. He came back later with his fiancé Kristine, bringing water and chocolate. We talked a while. What a lovely couple.
The night of Friday to Saturday was very cold ... the coldest so far (-20C). Everything was frozen in our tent. We decided to stay warm in our Hilleberg tent and our North Face sleeping bags. In the tent, we were fine. Our day equipment is intended for cold spring temperatures but not for winter days. Rod brought us warm homemade cookies as he knew we were not moving on. They were really delicious and much appreciated. The next day (Sunday), the weather was better, but with wind gusts of 65 km/h convincing us to stay one more day at the same location.
On Monday we resumed walking again, but only for a short distance. Rob had invited us to stay at his house and to give a lecture at his school (he is an English teacher) the next day. We spent a wonderful evening with Rob and his fiancée Kristine. The discussions were fascinating and profound. Thank you so much!
The next day we went to Gimli high school. We gave lectures to three different groups. Carl, a colleague of Rob, helped us also by fixing our axle (for our portage wheels). Then Rob took us to the CJ107 Radio station. We had an interview with Adam. It was great! We returned to the school in the afternoon. On the way back to Rob’s home, we stopped at Cheryl’s home (Rob’s colleague). We had a great time! Thank you Cheryl! We ended that great day with another delicious dinner prepared by Rob and Kristine. Thank you very much to you two for everything! Rob, thank you for having taken the time to talk to us when we were walking on the road. You started a movement of generosity and fantastic sharing. Best wishes for your upcoming wedding!