Exploring the Shield

Canada's Whiteshell Provincial Park
  |  Gorp.com

Hiking up the rocky path, skirting a car-size boulder, I come onto a broad expanse of rock—the plateau of the Amisk hiking trail. Through binoculars, I look out to stands of black spruce and a small lake ringed by rock ridges crusted with the colors of lichen. The air is filled with flashes of black and white and the sound of buzzy notes as chickadees flutter about the scaly jack pines that populate this bald rock. A couple of billion years ago this would be very different. Hiking in the area that is now Manitoba's Whiteshell Provincial Park would have taken me through a mountain range rivaling the Rockies. Since then, wind and water have taken their toll on this land, gradually eroding those ancient peaks. Glaciers crawled over the landscape, grinding down the rock and gouging out the many lakes that now exist.

The Anishinabe people consider Whiteshell a sacred area, the place where the Creator lowered the first man from the sky to the ground. Its waterways echo the songs of the hardy voyageurs that first explored this area, and its wilderness still runs deep. This is the northwoods of legend—of moose and wolves, granite and spruce, lakes of blue filled with leaping smallmouth, bronze walleye, toothy pike, and campfires under skies dense with stars and wispy strands of aurora. I come here today to walk through deep forests, climb ancient rock, paddle clear lakes, and explore an area rich in history and forces that shaped a continent.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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