Tucked away in central Saskatchewan, not far from Prince Albert National Park lies Narrow Hills Provincial Park. What immediately came into my mind as I drove down the small gravel road that leads to Lower Fishing Lake is just how…peaceful the place is. The small core area includes only a cluster of cabins on the lake, a small general store and cabin rental, a beach, and the campground. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the site I had reserved was right beside the lake, with a short walk to the shore! I had been told that the soft rain that had been falling all day would be clearing up later that evening, which it did, and that finally, the sun would come out. So glad. Last time camping at Moose Mountain, the rain didn't seem to want to go away!
The next morning after eating breakfast, I decided to drive up the Esker Road scenic route. This is a curvy winding road that leads up to the middle of the Narrow Hills, where the densely-packed forest reveals deep clear lakes like mirrors below the road. Maybe the sense of grandeur I felt comes from these views, or maybe they just come from the knowledge of simply being alone in such a place. An open cabin for anyone seeking shelter sits at the end of the road, and I made my lunch there.
By late afternoon, I took another short drive from the Lower Fishing Lake area to the trailhead of the Gem Lakes. These tightly-packed sand-bottomed lakes reflect the beautiful changing moods of the sky, and are set with the colours of the jewels they are named after. From Jade Lake to Sapphire Lake, the short 5.5 km hike was spectacular… and I was the only person there! The most memorable part was when I suddenly heard a THWAAAACK!!! from about 15 feet away, scaring the living daylights out of me... I had to wonder what the heck just happened, as it sounded like a huge stone being thrown into the water from high up. Then I saw that it was actually a beaver slapping his tail on the water to warn other beavers of my presence! He did it a few more times, just to make sure, and then he seemed settled enough to carry on chewing on the large tree branch he had. I carried on, tried my luck fishing (to no success), and marvelled at the natural beauty that I had stumbled upon.
Narrow Hills is really a park for people who want to experience the raw beauty of the Saskatchewan north. It's not very commercialized, other than the basic essentials (sure there's a general store and a great beach area), but that's certainly a good thing here. Visitors to Narrow Hills can expect a unique and awesome outdoor experience in an untouched wilderness!