Why would I write about the Crow Wing Trail, when this is a Mennotoba blog? Well, this trail is literally linked with Mennonites, at the Mennonite Landing site. I noticed the sign there…and the enticing trail. (Which sadly, I have not yet embarked upon!) Then, the other day, Andrew and I were in St. Pierre…and there we noticed a trail, accompanied by one sign, and one cairn. Before heading down the trail, we quickly had a look:
We were not actually prepared to go hiking…so a true hike will have to wait for another day. But we couldn’t resist heading down the trail for just a few minutes. The St. Pierre portion of the Crow Wing Trail begins at the St. Pierre Museum, and crosses the Joubert Creek.
I’ve been studying the map for this trail, and I have to admit, I’m mightily disappointed by how often the trail has to rely on government roads to connect the different parts of the genuine trail. Sometimes, yes, the public roads do follow the actual trail anyway…but often that is not the case. These historic trails should snake along rivers…the routes that people actually walked or drove their ox carts. Not following the boxy mile roads!
I think my expectations for what a trail could or should be have been shaped by our visit to the United Kingdom. In the UK, there are specific “freedom to roam” and “right of public access to wilderness” laws that allow their culture of walking (like, going for “walks” that last roughly 5 days…or more!) to flourish. This has fixated in my mind as being truly excellent. It saddens me that here, much of the land on which these historic routes rest is privately owned and therefore inaccessible, to the point that historic trails such as the Crow Wing Trail must often resort to mile roads.
I don’t mean to complain! I think the Trans Canada Trail and the Crow Wing Trail and trails like them are wonderful, and I have a deep appreciation for the people that maintain these trails.
I just can’t help but dream of more.