My servant the wind blew me into Echo Valley Provincial Park. At the first entry gate I met Mackenzie and Trevor, friends from the University of Regina. She was putting off the completion of her pychology degree, and he had wrapped up a geography bachelor's there. Both of them had led float trip on the Qu'Appelle, and were interested in my trip. Mackenzie wanted to give me a certain lakeside campsite, but couldn't do it there, so she directed me over to Pat's booth further up.
Pat thought my trip was incredible, and asked so many questions about how I handled portages, and what I did about maps. She and her son had been dreaming about taking a long trip as well, the Milk River to the Missouri! I told her how that was an early plan of mine, and why I didn't take it: too many dams and too large lakes for my taste. The day must have been a minor holiday, Saskatchewan Day or something, because many cars were driving by as we talked. When a line had formed, Pat waved me on, and I promised to come back with my maps.
The campsite I got was actually meant for large groups. I had seen it from the water, but it looked occupied. As I pulled my canoe up on shore I could see the family that was there frantically packing everything up; I suppose they were just putting off leaving, and why not? It was a beautiful day, and great fishing, I'm sure. I took my time, even left for a while to visit the store in the reserve, so they wouldn't feel rushed.
When I returned I pitched my tent and surveyed my domain. This was a large lawn ringed by trees, with multiple firepits and a water tap right there. The beach, sand and gravel, extended down to the lake. I was assured by everyone that the lake was very low, but it must have been higher in the past, because a picnic table was sitting in the lake, just beyond the beach. A mallard decided this was a wise place to raise her family. She could sit on the table to keep lookout as her chicks sat on the bench below.
I returned to Pat with my maps, and met Dave the conservation officer. Both of them had canoed or kayaked the Qu'Appelle, and knew tons about fences, cattle, and how tediously mendering it could be. The last time Pat had kayaked there, she had been attacked by a bull. Dave had once been struck by lightning; it burned right through his foot and he woke up thinking he was in hell.
My bike had developed a gimpy rear tire, and because the Brompton does not have quick release I needed a tool to get the wheel off. Dave got a tool from maintenance and drove me back to the campsite.
Honestly, I felt like royalty. They would erect some sign when I left, saying Kevin was here August 4, 2008, and then below that a smaller plaque would say the sign was dedicated May 5, 2010 by the Earl of Croom, or something like that. Nowhere had so many of the park staff been so interested in my trip or treated me so kindly, and what a huge change from Buffalo Pound where I had felt so unwanted. Saskatchewan Provincial Parks was winning me back.
A family boated into the other side of the group site to have dinner, and I failed to start conversation with them. Apparently my kingdom was only so large.
Day 44 ended: 50*46.429N, 103*47.659W
(Those coordinates may not be correct. I stayed at the "Hole in Wall - Water" campsite and forgot to take a GPS reading while I was there. These are simply the coordinates I saw when I turned the unit back on after leaving the campsite, and may not be correct.)