Joining the “Most Overrated Attraction” list, Devils Punch Bowl in Manitoba is described in the Spruce Woods trail guide as thus: “Sand slips and slides down a bowl-shaped depression 45 metres deep and disappears into an ever-moving, eerie pool of blue-green water.” That’s worth a two-hour hike in the hot sun, right?
After a long uphill slog on sandy soil, we reached an elaborate footbridge and a platform overlooking…some trees. Ralph actually hiked back to the trail marker to make sure we had come to the right place. To compound matters, poor Ralston (recovering from surgery) simply flopped down on a shady patch of sand and quit hiking, refusing to make the return trip back to the Airstream.
As if on cue, a covered wagon arrived and disgorged a listless family who had come to see the alleged punchbowl; Ralston and I gratefully hitched a ride with them downhill. Along the way the driver pointed out items of interest (I use that term loosely) and named the berries of Manitoba (like Harlan Pepper in Best in Show). I asked him what gives: no bowl! No sand! No eerie blue-green pool! “Well, it used to look like that, back in the fifties,” he explained. “I seen pictures.” Canada must have lax truth-in-advertising laws.