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Fall/Winter 2005-2006

November 6  - Hellman Hills Hike

It started as a frosty “scrape the windshield” November morning. By noon it had warmed enough for 12 hikers to enjoy a lunch rest stop on a sunny slope on the Hellman trails in the Routledge Sand Hills, southeast of Virden.

For three hours, led by Shannon, we wandered in the hills crisscrossing and backtracking in the maze of trails. Thanks to Shannon’s instinct, Bill’s map, and Bob’s GPS, not to mention little orange ribbons, we were never lost! (Some might disagree!) A few tracks and scat were the only evidence of wildlife but the shrubs and trees were of interest, particularly the Western Snowberry/Buckbrush.

Participants: Shannon K; Carol & Bill; Norma & Verne; Di; Laura (potential member); Laura’s brother Danny; Bob M; Sherri; Margaret;& Millie.

November 19 - Day Ski Grey Owl/ Cowan Lake Trail
Saturday, November 19, a day ski started off with a delicious pot luck brunch at the home of Alf and Janis and then on to ski to the warming hut on the Grey Owl Trail.  The ski was enjoyed by Alf, Janis, Ken , Vicki, Mike R., Di, Donna K., Norma, Verne,Eldon and Sheri.  The trail was packed but not tracked.  What a beautiful winter day!  No wind and mild temperatures.  Some of the more avid skiers continued on to Cowan Lake which they had to track,  while the rest of us gathered  for left over brunch  and a cheery fire.

Norma Lennon

December 11 Sunday Day ski      
Because of lack of snow in Spruce Woods Prov. Park, Eldon’s day ski   was held in Riding Mountain National Park. Nine members, Eldon, Bob M, Robert S, Sherrie,Terje,Glen, Di, Alf,  Janis and guest Karen met at the trailhead to Maintenance Compound trail. The first task was to figure out what ski wax would work best in the +2C temperature and 4 inches of fresh snow. We met one other couple on the trail who had skied a short way in but members grudgingly took turns breaking trail the rest of the way. Just before the junction where the trail meets Katherine Lake trail the parks staff have cut a new trail. It wanders north and west before heading back south making Maintenance Compound trail a complete loop. This trail is fantastic with some long slopping hills through pine and spruce forest. Back at the vehicles a tailgate party was held on the back of Robert’s truck. Grace and Sherrie supplied all sorts of goodies. Thanks Eldon for being the contact for this fun ski.

December 29 - Day Ski
Skiing conditions were excellent for Grace, Terje, Sherrie, Janis, Brenda, Jerry, Roger and myself (Alf), Thursday morning when we met to ski Grey Owl Trail. The temperature was approximately -3C with no wind. Hoar frost was hanging on all the trees making it picture-perfect scenery. These great conditions and the holiday season must have been responsible for bringing out the many skiers we met on the trail.One couple were from Montreal. After skiing we all met for coffee and snacks at the 7Daze Deli in Onanole.This was a great turnout for such short notice.This past 12 days have seen some of the best skiing conditions that I have ever seen in Riding Mountain national Park in December.

December 31 - Overnight ski trip to James Lake Cabin
The overnight ski and snowshoe to James Lake Cabin in Turtle Mountain Provincial Park for New Years was very much fun.  Fred and I skied the 9 kilometre route around Adam Lake into the  cabin. Bert, Judy, Mike and Alain skied the 6 kilometre route.  Slyvie  snowshoed in the 6 kilometre route.  The six kilometre route was well tracked and even with the melting temperatures the ski was very easy.  Unfortunately, on the 9 kilometre route snow machines had ruined the perfect track. We all enjoyed the unusually mild temperatures and it was quite pleasant not to catch a chill while waiting for the stove to heat the cabin.  The evening festivities included all of us trying to figure out  a hard crossword puzzle, a great game of crib and sharing stories and wolf sightings in Riding Mountain.  Some of us inspected Fred's sleeping arrangement in his bivy sack near the wood pile.  At midnight we all shared a hug and good tidings for the New Year and settled in for a good night's rest.  Fred was the first person awake, and I think he had the best sleep outdoors in his bivy sack.   January 1 was another beautiful mild day.  We found the ski out effortless, with the trails in good condition. Slyvie hiked out as the trail was too packed for snow shoeing.  We stopped at the Chicken Chef in Boissevain for a coffee and then headed home to Brandon and Winnipeg.Great Fun, easy skiing, and a fantastic way to bring in 2006!

P.S.  For those who will be skiing into the cabin on January 13;  you will find a mouse nest in the cupboard, plenty of wood, the toilet full and no take home trail maps.

Jackie Beckta

January 1 - Day Ski
A great start to 2006 with an impromptu cross-country ski in Riding Mountain national Park. Bill & Carol, Aaron & Donna, Alf & Janis, Karen and ski organizers Grace & Terje skied Maintenance Compound and Katherine Lake trail , a total of 11.6 Kilometers. Well, maybe not everyone made it all the way around. Too much New Year's celebration and a pulled muscle shortened the ski for a couple of the skiers.( no names will be mentioned). Conditions were very good and the temperature was mild. There were a lot of skiers on the trail including the Charleswood Ski Club from Winnipeg. Coffee, hot chocolate, and drinks were enjoyed afterwards while discussing the day's adventures.

January 8 - Grey Owl Day Ski

The Wilderness group,  Donna D, Mike C. Bill, Carol, Sherri, Alf, Janis, Rodger W, Mike R., Norma  and Verne  met at South Gate for breakfast.  We set out on the most perfect ski trip heading for the Grey  Owl Cabin.  The trail was perfect and the temperature was about -5 degrees.  This was my first trip in to Grey  Owl and it will remain one of the highlights of my ski life.

Norma Lennon

January 13 -  James Lake Cabin 
A small group of four skied in on Friday afternoon - Verne, Norma, Di and Donna D.  The trail was extremely icy but well groomed . After dark three night skiers, Judy, Bert and Glen, came knocking on our door.  After a lengthy supper hour we played some cards  and  visited.  Glen slept in the big bedroom located over by the wood pile.  We skied out on Saturday afternoon and were home early enough to take in the Blues night at Brandon University.  There were quite a number of Wilderness Club members  socializing and  chatting about the  ski.
Norma Lennon
Jan 21 Day Ski
Maureen, Shannon S, Grace, Mike C, and Faye (a potential member) joined me for a ski on the Yellowquill trail system in Sprucewoods on January 21.  With the temperature at -15, it was a colder ski than we've been used to, and slower (which is not necessarily a bad thing--no face plants this time!).  We stopped at the warming hut to get a fire going and put the chili and hot chocolate on to simmer, and left a couple of people behind to stoke the fire.  The rest of us headed off on the Assiniboine Trail which has always been one of my favourite ski trails.  Its continuous rolling hills and complete absence of steep downhills with turns at the bottom make it perfect for less experienced skiers while still keeping it interesting for the avid skier.

Hot chocolate and chili waited for us in the cabin, so we tucked in, and then headed back out - Judy, Faye and Mike taking the short route to meet a 6:00 deadline to be back in Brandon, and Shannon and Maureen accompanying Grace back along the Cree trail to look for Grace's watch (Hope you found it, Grace!).

Snow was a bit crunchy, but we had a few cm of new snow and the trail was nicely groomed.   Another enjoyable WWC event.


January 27-29 - Weekend at Walkinshaw
Walkinshaw Place, a beautiful Victorian Country Inn was the chosen site for our Westman Wilderness winter get-away-weekend. Walkinshaw Country Inn is located south of Boissevain next to the Turtle Mountains. It has an out door hot tub, and a full bath and TV in guest rooms.

We were greeted by Brent (clad only in his bathing suit) to help us with our baggage.  Marg,  & Millie had already embarked on an afternoon of snowshoing. Janis was out  on cross-country skis checking the trail over to James Lake cabin.

Alf, Janis, Mike, Terje, Grace, Marg, Millie, Brent, Maureen, Mike R, Sheila, Howard, Sherrie, Aaron, Shannon, Faye,  Vern. Norma, Sylvie, Bill and Carol attended  the weekend.

Team 1 provided hors d''oeuvres and a sumptuous Chinese buffet Friday evening as well as a hearty breakfast Saturday AM.

Saturday morning Mike led Bill, Carol, Terje, Grace, Sherrie, Maureen and Shannon on an 11km ski to James Lake Cabin and back. The weather was great and the trail was rated by Mike as a 8 out of 10. However, the snow was fast and Bill suffered a minor injury at the tail-end of the ski. Marg & Millie snowshoed approx 12 K  before returning exhausted.

Saturday evening consisted of more great hors d'oeuvres as well as a wonderful Mexican Fiesta. and pancake breakfast Sunday morning, all provided by Team 2.

Both Friday  and Saturday evening were filled with fun and roars of laughter. Some chose to spend the evening in the the outdoor hot tub sipping cold drinks to cool them down. Brent and Shannon tried rolling in the crispy snow in their bathing suits in between dips in the hot tub. Some chose to play cards or visit, and some chose to engage in serious conversation.

Entertainment was provided both evenings by Bill on the guitar and vocals by Grace, Brent, Bill, and Sherrie, Sylvie played guitar late Saturday night so Bill could do a wonderfully talented tribute to the late Johnny Cash.

Sunday morning all were up early cleaning and packing.  Brent, fully clothed, helped carry luggage. Shannon, Terje and Grace left to ski the 11km yellow trail while Brent and Maureen stayed at Walkinshaw Place for a snowshoe and photo opportunity, Mike and Sherrie opted for the 15km Jame Lake fitness trail.  Both trails turned out to be a little sticky, but the weather was still great and it proved to be a good workout following a great weekend of wilderness fun and friendship.

                                         Sherrie Gates

February 5 - Snow Shoe
The day dawned with a beautiful sunrise, or so Janet said (I was still sleeping) and the temperature was sitting at a gorgeous -8c. As the morning progressed I eventually got out of bed and made breakfast for Janet and myself. We played a game of Scrabble, which I won for a change, I checked my e-mails, and sent a couple out that needed to be sent for a week.

Around 12:30 I decided it was time to get dressed and pack up a few things that I, or the group, may need throughout the afternoon of snowshoeing on the Spirit Sands Trails in Spruce Woods Provincial Park.

I had arranged to meet the group of six at the trailhead at Shannon's requested time of 2 pm. Hence the reason for my morning of leisure. On the way to the trailhead I stopped and lit a fire in the Seton Cabin, to take the chill off, for after the snowshoe.

Di, Linda B and Shannon S were waiting when I arrived. Laura (new member), Rebecca (Laura's niece) and Elizabeth (exchange student from Germany) arrived within ten minutes.

A few adjustments were made to the snowshoe harnesses and we were off. I took two steps and tripped over Jess, my neighbor's dog I was looking after for the weekend. Also along was one of my Bernese Mountain Dogs, Romeo. As I was the odd man out, actually the only man out, I took the group photo. The trip proceeded as most of our trips do with people talking about this and that and getting to know the new people joining us for the first time. When we arrived at the first junction a discussion ensued concerning the way to go, we decided left and after a steep climb got to the dunes. It was quite windy up on top of the dunes which were completely covered in snow. We spotted movement ahead of us and determined it was a coyote. It sat staring at us for while then disappeared, only to reappear 300 meters to the west. It was so fast I thought there was two of them. Later while looking at the tracks I could see that it was the same animal. There it sat as Laura got out her binoculars and everyone had a look. After leaving the dunes we thought we had time to go to the Punch Bowl. I changed our minds when we got to the intersection and decided that the sun was getting a little low in the sky. We headed out and met at the Seton Cabin for hot chocolate and cookies.

Cheers Eldon

February 11 - Day Ski,Grey Owl Trail, Riding Mountain National Park
Thank you to Eldon for delivering all seven of us - via Tim Hortons - to the trail head.  Well, I say trail head - there was too much snow to get into the parking lot, and Alf, Janis and Roger were waiting on the road side for us.  The penny hadn't dropped, that the first few out had to break trail in 14-15 inches of snow - so it hadn't paid off to be ready to go as quick as I was!
It was a superb day for Maureen, Brent, Alf, Janis, Roger (Winger), Di, Shannon (Kent), Carol, Donna (Kulbacki) and Eldon to hit the trail.  There was blue sky and sunshine - although it was a little cool, to begin with, anyway!  There were times I didn't even know that I still had my skis on my feet - until I was helped into the horizontal position and couldn't get up again...thank you Eldon!  The warming hut was a welcome break, where we left Carol and Donna to mind the fire - and Alf headed home.  The rest of us continued our journey to the cabin.  By now, Brent was down to a T-shirt - which made for an excellent photo when he wiped out big style!  As I went to lend a helping hand - I also ended up doing a face plant - again...thank you Brent!  When will I learn?  We were all ravenous by the time we got to the cabin - almost 2 hours after leaving the parking lot.  Surely the ski back would be easier?
The ski was easier - until you got to go up some of the hills.  One hill was not going to let Maureen get up it - no matter how hard she tried.  She must have used every trick in the book - but they weren't going to work.  She eventually made it (with a little help from her friends) - just before we all went down like a pack of cards!  As we approached the warming hut - it was surprising how many other skiers we passed.  I'm sure they wouldn't have been there had it not been for our hard work - and some even thanked us for breaking the trail!  It was great to have a fire waiting for us, and after Shannon had been ambushed by Eldon (she had chocolate - and he didn't) - we all headed back to the cars.
It was a great day, great company and when my sides have stopped aching - I'll be back for more!!!   Thanks Janis....
Di Ingram...

February 18 - Snowshoe
It was a chilly morning as Roger, Cheryl, Di, Janis and Alf took off on a day snowshoe from Roger and Cheryl’s cottage. This area is a short distance south of Katherine Lake and is rolling hills and valleys covered by evergreen, birch and aspen forest. This year snowfall has been extra heavy making for a great hike. The snow was still hanging on the trees from the last snow storm and the sun was shining bright. The first part of the trip descended  to Tamarack Lake. It is a beautiful valley lake surrounded by trees. We  then climbed to the top of Sunset Hill where we saw a great view of the surrounding area. At that point some went on for a distance following the tracks of unknown snowshoers before turning back. Cheryl and Alf headed back to the cottage. After a great lunch and tea Roger and Di headed over to Katherine Lake for an afternoon snow shoe. Thanks Roger for a great day.

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