Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me
Lumsden, SK - Sunday, July 27, 2014

When I finally arrive in Lumsden, it’s almost 10 pm. I’ve travelled the last few kilometres in the dark. I’m exhausted. And very angry.

“What happened?” my friend David asks. “When you phoned at 7 pm, and said that you were only 10 km from Lumsden, we expected you’d be here in no time.”

“Me too,” I respond, “but I did a very stupid thing. Instead of just coming into town on the highway, I tried to get back on the Trans Canada Trail. I must be a slow learner. I keep falling into the same trap.”

“The trail was a soft, soggy tractor path through a barren, muddy field in the river valley. I could hardly even walk in the stuff, never mind push my bike in it.  My feet were sinking into the ground; my wheels were buried. And I was getting eaten alive by mosquitos. It took me almost two hours before I could get to a road.”

“I’m completely disgusted with Saskatchewan’s so-called trails. It’s all a huge lie. But most of all, I’m disgusted with myself. I keep repeating this same stupidity over and over again, and I can’t seem to comprehend what’s happening. I’m still expecting a real trail.  Something that people can actually use for walking or riding. I’m an absolute fool. A complete idiot.”

“Well,” David comments, with his usual frankness, “you know how the expression goes: ‘Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.’”

And then he continues: “You’re incredibly stubborn. I don’t know where you find the strength. Margaret and I cycled just a few kilometres and we’re both tired. You’ve been at it for almost thirteen hours today. How much distance did you cover? 90 km? 95 km?”

“I’m not sure,” I reply. “My Garmin GPS device conked out after 90 km. It only lasts 12 hours max. And I didn’t want to stop and hook it up to my Zagg battery. I used my phone GPS to get to the B & B.”

I left Moose Jaw shortly after 9 am, carefully following the proposed Trans Canada Trail route, east on a gravel road, and then north on a dirt path. When the surface became soft and muddy, I reluctantly moved over to Hwy 301 – a two-lane asphalt road with no shoulders – and made good time to Buffalo Pound Lake. There, I met Margaret and David for lunch, and we cycled the Trans Canada Trail together for several kilometres in the provincial park.  Once a beautiful trail, complete with interpretive nature signs, it is now overgrown with deep grass. “Nobody maintains it,” we were told by park staff. A valuable asset has been left to disintegrate.

From there, I zigzagged through a maze of gravel and dirt roads, some bearing Trans Canada Trail signs, others not – the designation seems completely arbitrary – until I reached a chasm where the roadway had collapsed some 30 metres into a river valley.

So I retraced my steps and then detoured northward to the village of Disley. I could see Hwy 11 a short distance away, but instead I decided to return to my preplanned route, and headed 5 km southeast to pick up the Trans Canada Trail once again. A decision I soon regretted.

I don’t have the stamina to make these mistakes anymore. Nor does my bike. The brakes and the derailleur are caked in mud. The wheels won’t turn, the gears won’t shift.

When I get to Regina tomorrow, I’m going to re-evaluate the rest of my route. The Trans Canada Trail in Saskatchewan has fooled me too many times. I’ve been thoroughly shamed.

The Trans Canada Trail near Lumsden, SK. Photo by Edmund A. Aunger