November 3 - Back Country Hike,Riding Mountain National Park
After a week of phone calls and emails concerning the upcoming hike, I asked Mike to fill in for the missing Park Warden and lead the hike into the Riding Mountain backcountry. He agreed to take us to Jackfish Lake and I proceeded to get back in touch with everyone who wanted to attend. We, Maureen, Arthur, Grace, Marg, Millie, Roger, Fred G, Linda B, Anne, Fred, Brian, Lynne, and Eldon, met our leader Mike, from Dauphin, on number 10 highway just north of the Bead Lakes Trail at 11:00 am. Mike had described this trail as a well used elk trail and he was right. Not only was it well used, we crossed several other heavily traveled trails along the way. We weaved in and out of the bush for the next two hours. The outs were through what I would describe as marshy areas with grasses up to our chests. I think we were all thankful that the ground was frozen as we made our way through these areas. We crossed Jackfish Creek twice. Mike had brought along a pair of overshoes that made the crossings a snap for those who were patient enough to wait their turn. Some of us aren't all that likely to stand in line and wait our turn, so up and down the shoreline we went looking for the easier/faster way. Some built bridges some, wearing gaiters, found a place where a big step and a well placed rock made the crossing do-able. After about two hours we saw the lake in the distance and opted to take a lunch break in the shelter of some trees a ways back. The way back was the same as the way in except for a small rock fall while Mike was crossing the second stream. Thankfully he was alright.
November 10 - Day Hike on Spirit Sands
What a beautiful fall day. Ten degrees sunny and no wind - a perfect day to get out and enjoy the splendor of Sprucewoods Provincial Heritage Park. Our hike on the Spirit Sands Trail and Devil's Punchbowl was wonderful. The following people who came out and took part in trip made it that much more enjoyable. (Arthur, Fred, Jackie, Cecile, Patsy, Shannon, Di, Norma, Grace, James, Moses, Romeo, Bert, Judy, Fred S, Ann S, Roger, Kim and Michael Bright.) Janet and James W. joined us at the Seton Cabin where we enjoyed hot dogs and hot chocolate with a special twist to wind up the afternoon.
December 2 - Day ski on Grey Owl Trail.
Yes, we had enough snow to ski the Grey Owl trail on December 2nd! A Quad had been through, but few skiiers, so the trail was somewhat rough especially from the warming shack to the cabin, but after we had tracked in, the outbound was much better.
The weather was great, especially after the cold, windy day on Saturday. We truly appreciated the sunny, calm day. The scenery was especially awesome with fresh snow in the coniferous trees and the sun glinting off of them. Janis, Alf, Maureen and a friend, Pat went to the warming shack and back, while Jackie, Fred, Brian and Lynn went all the way to Grey Owl Cabin and back (keeners!). Janis and Alf once again extended their hospitality by inviting us for hot chocolate, coffee and banana bread with cheese (Yum, Yum) at their cozy home with the new fireplace blazing! It was a wonderful way to spend the first of December in Manitoba.
December 31 - Overnight ski to Cairn's cabin
Fantastic!!!!! Temps were -18ish both days. Wind was not a factor. Four of us made the trip - Glen G., Jackie B., Triche B.,(from Winnipeg) and FDG. The 3 Brandonites had coffee at the Elkhorn and met Triche at the trailhead. The ski in was a hoot. Trail had been packed and was skier-tracked in an irregular sort of way. We met six members of the Charleswood Ski Club enroute. They were out for a day ski. Lots of animal tracks etc but no sightings. I think I skied thru some of the "etc." Glen stoked a bonfire for us and all was good till he beat me at cribbage. Most of us managed to stay awake till midnight! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Cabin was cozy as usual. Glen slept out under the stars. The latter were somewhat obscured by late night cloud but were clearly visible at 0700. Breakfast was quite leisurely and I was able to exact some revenge in cribbage! We cleaned up, packed up and headed out just before noon. It seemed more of a slog coming out, the irregular trackage became annoying. Anyway, we all made it out quicker than going in. Then it was back to the Elkhorn for some java and victuals.
January 12 - Epinette Trail Ski,Spruce Woods Provincial Park
Seven eager skiers (Jackie, Shannon, Grace, Janet (Grace’s neighbour), Eldon, Brian and Lynne) assembled at Epinette Creek Trailhead on a bright sunny Saturday, January 12th. The trail was good although a bit more snow would have made it even better. At cabin #2 we remembered that Sylvie had indicated she would meet us at the trailhead; oops…but we forgave ourselves .We agreed we had not left until 10 or 15 minutes past twelve. We carried on making our way into cabin #3 for a rest and snacks. One female skier, who shall remain unnamed, caught Eldon and Brian by surprise and gave their blood pressures a boost as she stripped off a damp layer of upper body clothing! Not long into our post-snack visiting we were joined by Sylvie and Janine who thanked us (not) for waiting for them. We obliged and waited for them to eat and rest. By this time Fred came skiing up. Super speed skier that he is, he had already been into cabin #4 and was on his return. He had made an earlier start…setting out about 10:30 am. We allowed him only a very short time for a snack and rest/re-wax. Now a party of 10, we finally set off for our ski out. The hills are a bit of a challenge but make for an exciting ski.
Eldon invited us for coffee. We landed in on Janet and had a relaxing beer/coffee…..a good ending to another great WWC outing. Our bodies were weary but the scene from their living room window was picture perfect; big fluffy flakes of snow were falling as we looked out over their country property.
February 2 & 3 - Downhill and X-Country Ski Weekend
Another great weekend of downhill and x-country skiing was enjoyed by Alf, Janis, his son Scott and three grandchildren (Aaron, Rachel, and Jael), Aaron, Donna, Collin, Jordan and Erin, Judy, Eldon (he’s 50) and snowboarder Rod alias ‘the Turtle’, Jim, Mike R., Shannon, and Sylvie. The third chair lift was open for the Claw and some enjoyed more challenging runs, the moguls are still dangerous, I hear. We were well spread out on the hill and you never knew who you would meet. All levels of skiing were enjoyed. Saturday was a little on the cool side and warmup periods in the bar were enjoyed. Other than a few stiff muscles I was the only one that took a spill for the team, (actually I tripped myself) but it still hurt. Pot luck was at 6:30 and what a feast it was. After supper some people enjoyed the socializing, some retired early, and some had a game of, what was that called Eldon? Dimes? Anyway Alf's granddaughter cleaned up the dimes. Shannon brought birthday cake and it was enjoyed by all as we sang Happy Birthday to Aaron, Jan. 25, and Eldon, Jan 26 and did I mention he is 50! I might say that this group needs a little more practice with the “Birthday Song” and any Kulbacki is willing to give lessons. Sunday we had early risers, moderate risers, and late risers. Once breakfast, (which included some leftovers from Pot Luck), and cleanup of the bunkhouse was done, skiers hit the slopes once again and goodbyes were said to those who opted to go home. It was warmer that day on the hill and crowds were a minimum, actually hardly anyone, but the hills were a little more on the icy side for they had been scraped clean by snowboarders and skiers of yesterday. Another great day!
February 2 - Day Ski
Norma, Di, Scottie, Mike R. and Janis headed off on the Compound Trail to ski 3.7 km. to the warm up hut on the Katherine Trail. Alf had gone in earlier to light the stove. It was much appreciated as the temperature was about –24. The trails were in reasonable shape so we had good glide. In some places, debris littered the trail. The day’s new skiff of snow should cover that.
After lunch we skied the Katherine trail and after more visiting at the hut we proceeded back along the Compound Trail with only a couple of spills. The new entrance at the trail makes for an easier and not so fast exit. There is also a new parking area right close to the entrance rather than parking at the sand /gravel pit and skiing across the meadow.
Mike proceeded on to Lake Audy while the rest of us had coffee and snacks at Stanley’s. Scottie got to stretch out and have a well-deserved rest and belly rub. It was another fun event with the Westman Wilderness Club.
February 17 - Yellow Quill Trail Day Ski
Bert, Judy, Grace, Maureen, and new members Richard and Flint set out for Spruce Woods Sunday morning, defying the weather reports and fears of icy trails from yesterday's rain. At the head of the Yellowquill Trail, we met Eldon, Aaron, Donna, Di, Scotty and Sylvie, who had just driven in from Winnipeg (actually only Sylvie had driven in from Winnipeg). The wind worked in our favour--fresh snow had blown into the tracks, covering the ice in most places, and we had a great 4 km ski into the warming hut. Within a few minutes it truly was a "warming hut", and we dried off and warmed up before setting off on the 6 km loop. The day just got brighter and warmer, and made for another pleasant hour of skiing, followed by hot chocolate and hotdogs in the warming hut.
Another reminder of what a gem we have in Spruce Woods Provincial Park
February 18 - Snow Shoe
On Louis Riel Monday, eleven hardy souls braved -20C weather for an afternoon of snowshoeing in the beautiful Little Saskatchewan Valley near Rapid City. The following people met at Linda and Gareth's place at 1:00 pm: Marg, Millie, Di and Scotty, Maureen, Donna & Aaron, Mary, Richard, Bert and Judy. We crossed the river and followed a snowmobile trail for a while and then began a steep climb up a wooded path to the top of the hill which gave us a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape. By then it was a perfect time to stop to catch our breath, take a much-needed drink of water, and even shed an extra sweater. Upon descending the slope, we entered an open field which was quite windy and the temperature took on a greater wind-chill factor. We continued along the river and, following the scent of the bonfire, arrived at the site where Gareth was tending the fire and had prepared a cosy spot, with make-shift benches around the fire. The group sat down to enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate and/or hot cranberry juice. Meanwhile Millie quickly whipped up the dough for the bannock from 'scratch', and wrapped it on individual sticks, which we cooked over the hot coals and ate with honey and jam. Carrot cake and cookies completed our meal. What an excellent ending to our celebration of the first Louis Riel holiday! We snowshoed for two hours covering five kilometres according to the GPS. Many thanks to Linda and Gareth for arranging this snowshoeing event.
February 23 & 24 - James Lake Cabin Overnight Ski Trip.
Participants for the overnight ski trip to James Lake were Bert & Judy, Donna, Aaron & Colin; Linda; Di and Scotty came for the day Saturday. Weather was perfect so the ski in was fast with the warm temperature. The trails were in excellent condition. Lunch was outside at the picnic table in the warm sun over looking James Lake. Everyone went for another ski in the afternoon. Aaron and Colin cooked chicken breast with Italian seasonings over the open fire for supper. Delicious! The evening was spent playing wizard. The ski out Sunday was very fast with trail conditions being a bit on the icy side. Another great weekend in paradise. Thanks to Donna & Aaron for coordinating.