Day 3 – Porcupine Hills Bicycle Trip – Hudson Bay Regional Park to Brockelbank Hill
Up around 7:30 a.m. Took off east down Highway 3 with a light breeze at our backs. The highway surface was very good until Erwood where we hit construction, about 13 km east of Hudson Bay.
The pavement turned to gravel in some places due to construction work removing and replacing the old pavement.
At the Smoking Tent Creek, about 23 km east of Hudson Bay, we filled up water bottles from the cold, clear water [Warning: we should have filtered or boiled before drinking. I would not now drink straight from these creeks, even though they are likely spring-fed. I was an ignorant teen willing to gamble].
It was hot and humid so Gregg and I jumped in the waist-deep creek fully clothed, drifting with the current completely under water, soaking in the cool goodness. Al wetted his shirt.
I vaguely recall our clothing was completely dry within an hour or two.
After a few more kilometers we caught up to the highway crew. Gregg and I grabbed onto the back of the pilot vehicle, a half-ton truck, leaving Al in the dust (literally). The truck was traveling about 30 km/hr with our bikes trailing behind. After a while the driver started speeding up, I think he was not pleased with the new luggage, so we let go and waited for Al to catch up.
At Armit, ~41 km east of Hudson Bay, we turned south on Road #980 with gravel surface. We now faced a south head-wind and 500 m elevation gain over 25 km to the top of Brockelbank Hill. Brockelbank Hill is the second highest “peak” in Saskatchewan, second to the highest “peak” in Cypress Hills. Yeah I know, it’s nothing like the Rockies, but it was a good climb for someone who grew up in the flatlands.
Ate lunch in stifling heat around 12:50 p.m. at the junction of Roads #980 and #981, 47 km from Hudson Bay. Our pace became slower and slower as the road grade increased to 370 m elevation gain over the last 10 km. We walked the bikes the last 5 km to the peak.
A man in a pickup truck pulled over and asked us what the hell we were doing and if we needed help. After an attempted explanation, he was astounded and asked where the heck were our fishing poles and guns? What other form of recreation is there out here other than hunting and fishing? He drove away shaking his head, wondering how this apparent torture could be considered recreation!
We had a great view as we neared the peak. We could see Red Deer Lake about 50 km northeast in Manitoba, a large lake about 20 x 20 km in size.
We reached the peak of Brockelbank Hill by 4:30 p.m., 810 m above sea level. The hill is named after John Hewgill Brockelbank, a Saskatchewan politician (CCF-NDP) from the 1940’s to 1960’s. By unanimous vote of the Saskatchewan legislature, Brockelbank had the hill named in his honour in 1967.
We set up the tent in a grass-mowed space beside a small cairn honoring Mr. Brockelbank.
Other than the cairn, which is easy to miss, there is little to celebrate this unique geological feature rising from the surrounding landscape.
Gregg and I cycled, sans load, to a nearby fire tower. The tower was unoccupied. The road to the tower was particularly rough without the load and tires at high pressure for carrying loads. I was too lazy to adjust the air pressure for the short ride.
Rested in the tent, then supper at 6 p.m.
We mused over the rims on Al’s bike which were warping, we figured due to uneven load distribution. I’m guessing his spokes may have been loose also. Fortunately the bike was still rideable.
The temperature cooled off with strong winds continuing. Set up a bear cache in a tree and then restful sleep.