November 7 - Brandon Hills Hike
On November 7, an afternoon hike in the Brandon Hills was enjoyed by 12 members. The cold, windy conditions that day were deceiving but for anyone who has hiked the Brandon Hills, you soon discover that the trails are very sheltered and can make for a very enjoyable hike, even on what may be an otherwise miserable day out in the open. Everyone was impressed with the condition of the trails and the hard work of a clean-up crew was evident. It's good to see the trails marked with new signs. Thanks to all those members who joined me in the hike: Marg, Millie, Donna, Fred & Jackie and guest Gina, Di, Patsy, Bob, Judy & Burt.
November 11- Spirit Sands Hike
Remembrance Day 2004 broke warm and clear. By Wednesday morning nine members were signed up for the annual November 11 Day Hike. Thursday morning at the trail head, twenty-four people and three canines were chomping at the bit to get moving and warm up to enjoy a beautiful autumn day in the land of the Sandhills Stag. The obligatory group photo was less painful than usual ( thanks to Bill, who will not be seen in any of the photos because he was behind the lenses) . With clear skies, the temperature hovering around freezing, and a light breeze it was a crisp fall day. Hard to believe it was November in Manitoba ! The Spirit Sands were impressive, as always, and the lively banter and camaraderie on the trail made for the quintessential Westman Wilderness Club outing. Wildlife was minimal - no game, though deer tracks and coyote scat marked the trails almost everywhere. Bird sightings: Ravens, black-capped chickadees, hairy woodpeckers, blue jays and one lone mallard at the punch bowl. Otherwise, red squirrels made up the only other wildlife over the three hours the hike spanned. It may not have taken quite so long if half the group had not headed out on a little sidetrip that was not part of the trail, and would have led to who knows where! Our fearless leader, Eldon, called us all back, got us on the straight and narrow and we carried on. In spite of Bill's best efforts to repair the trail marker, he just couldn't find anyone, even out of twenty-four people, who was willing to stand and hold the sign up while people passed by. There may not have been much wildlife in the park, but it showed up later when everyone gathered back at Janet and Eldon's for chili. The company was great, the food was great, and the wine was plentiful. The significance of the day was not overlooked. Without the oftline efforts of those who served in wartime, we might not be sharing in such a perfect day. And a perfect day it was, just ask Brent 'Ruby' Munroe! The November 11 Hike has been an annual WWC event for many years. Let's hope we can keep it as an annual event. See you all next year!
November 14 - Grey Owl's Cabin Day Hiking Trip
Archie Belaney, Grey Owl, was a conservationist, a writer, a legend and a messenger who was far ahead of his time. He believed in protecting and saving wilderness everywhere. When his true identity was discovered his theories and beliefs were seen as false. Most people now realize his greatness in identifying what will occur if we do not care for our precious wilderness areas. We are now left to enjoy his writings, trails and cabins.
What a beautiful day to be out hiking in RMNP. The group met at the Southgate Restaurant for a fantastic breakfast before enjoying the warm 12 degree temperatures, the shining sun and the blue skies. Many of the group were hoping for ski weather but did not get their wish. We couldn't have asked for better conditions to visit Grey Owl's Cabin. Moving a few logs, sliding on some ice and crossing a wet, soggy "bridge" were the toughest parts of this trip. We completed the approximate 18km in just over 4 hours. After the hike it was over to Stanley's cottage for coffee. On the way there we spotted a huge bull elk with trophy set of antlers! After coffee eight members took in the fall supper at Onanole. Members participating in this event were: Mike and Erika Klassen, Mike Rossier, Alf and Janis Stanley, Carol Stadnyk, Bob Mason, Marilynn Markortoff, Bert Phillips and Judy Bartel, Shannon Kent, Marg Nestor, Sherry Gates, Lori Buckley, Ken & Vicki Bridger and Roger Winger.
November 17 - Ski , Wax and Tuneup Clinic
Thirty-five members showed up at A&L Cycle and ski store for an evening of food, prizes and viewing of new equipment for the coming ski season. Special prices were offered to members and many took advantage of them, replacing old equipment, or first time buyers. The last hour was a waxing and tune up clinic administered by Greg. He did an excellent job with tips for beginners and reminders for the seasoned skiers.
November 28 - Minnedosa Ski Trail Hike The hike was led by Grace and Terje and it was a new hike for quite a few of the eleven that turned out. Those present and accounted for were Grace, Terje, Kim, Brenda, Mary, Bob, Di, Marg, Carol, Bill and guest Hille from Winnipeg. Following breakfast at Humpty's on the hill we took the short drive to the trail head at Minnedosa. The hike took about 2 hours total time. The trail is a mixture of poplar and oak and is nice and challenging with enough hills to keep you puffing every once in a while! Temperature was in the -6C range with a mix of sun and cloud. and a skiff of snow on the trails. A coffee stop was made afterwards in Minnedosa. Overall a great hike and thanks to Grace and Terje for their efforts in leading this one (their first time leading a hike and we look forward to lots more!!).
Bill and Carol
December 4 - Hike to Lake Kinosao Riding Mountain National Park
Twelve hikers plus Cappy (Mike's Malamute dog) met for a wonderful brunch at Alf And Janis Stanley's beautiful cabin nestled in the woods outside Onanole. Then, off to the Kinosao trailhead off Hwy. 19 to hike through about 5 cm. of fresh snow. With Alf striding along at an invigorating pace everyone quickly warmed up. Soon we were crunching over the stream and wetland board walks. The loud sound of our feet was muted by the thick spruce and aspen trees. Those exuding white puffs of steam were Mike Rossier, Bob Mason, Sherry Gates, Alf and Janis Stanley, Ken and Vickie Bridger, Shannon Kent, Maureen Monroe, Di Ingram, Mary Kowbel and Marg Nestor.
Approaching an opening through the trees at Kinosao Lake, Cappy alerted the group to activity across the lake. At first glance a row of jumping, flapping ravens were spotted, then someone asked what that red and brown thing was on the ice. Someone else said, "are those wolves?" We debated over stumps or wolves and then the stumps started to move; 5 wolves, 2 black, 2 white and 1 gray milled around and quietly retreated back into the bush. At the same time a bald eagle was spotted in a tall spruce, then it circled. The sun lit up its white head like a beacon.
We all stood open mouthed watching the spectacle play out. Curious, we had to find out what animal lay on the far shore ice, so we walked across and witnessed an elk kill. The snow was beaten down in a large circle around the 10 tine racked animal. The elk had put up a valiant fight. We witnessed the stark reality of nature at work. After pictures, we hiked to the shelter on Grey Owl Trail.
We took a snack break and the guys chopped fire wood for the cabin. As we hiked out we flushed a ruffed grouse into a whirring glide across the trail. Back at the cars we were still in awe of the beautiful but startling austerity of the scene we had witnessed and of all the wildlife that had enlivened our trek. Some people headed home and some headed for a hot drink at Ken & Vicki's cottage.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Sherry--"as scary as a bear on a gut pile"
December 11 - Westman Wilderness Christmas Festivities The Christmas Party was held at Di's Place and what a Super venue! It comfortably held all 35 (WWWW) Wild and Wooly Wilderness Wanderers ! A hike through the Research Station grounds was led by our President Verne and was enjoyed by all. Apres-hike was a resounding success at Di's. Games, music , food and fellowship were the order of the evening. Carol won the Turkey in the Dart throwing event and Brent just about won a Chesterfield! We even had some up and coming Bell Ringers orchestrated by Kim Bright! The Christmas gift giving event was lively and spirited as usual with everyone (more or less) getting a gift they could cherish?!!
The FOOD as usual, was a tremendous pot-luck, and thanks to everyone who brought all the goodies. Some have suggested that next year, the name of the dish and the cook should be attached in event someone wants to obtain a recipe for something they enjoyed.--let's keep that in mind. A big thanks to Di, Norma, Verne and the cleanup crews. Looking forward to next year!
Bill and Carol
December 18 - Back Country Ski
It was a cold and windy day (-25C) as we drove along #10 highway in Riding Mountain National Park to meet Mike Rossier who was to lead us.
Mike's directions were to go north until we saw his green pick-up on the west side of the highway. Fred Good, Jackie Beckta, Verne Kachkowski, Sherry Gates, Janis and Alf Stanley were putting our trust in Mike to lead us in a back country ski trip. Mike has skied this route many times and knows it like the back of his hand. The going was slow as we skied over beaver dams, muskeg and ice for about 5 K . At this point we decided to turn back about 1.5 K short of our goal, Jack Fish Lake. For anyone who hasn't been on this trip and enjoys the unspoiled back country, you must join Mike the next time .
After the ski all the tired skiers gathered at the Stanley's cottage for hot chocolate, coffee and snacks. The highlight of the day was when a marten (Martes Americana) was spotted. The martens are a member of the Mustelidae family (weasels, skunks, and allies). Martens were extinct in the park until they were re-introduced about 10 years ago.
January 7-9 - James Lake Cabin, Turtle Mtn. Prov. Park.
(Alf, Janis Stanley, Sherri Gates, Mike Rossier, Brian Paterson, Eldon Schmidt and Glen Gatin)
Having survived holiday season temperatures of -26C - 33C with wind chill factors in the -40C plus range, Mother Nature co-operated with Wilderness Club members. We enjoyed balmy temperatures hitting -17C to - 23C. . After lunching at Boissevain's Red Coat Inn, our group of six arrived at the Adam Lake Recreation area. Eldon and Glen joined us later. Greeting the group were trees covered with 10 - 20cm of fresh snow with no hint of wind. It stayed like this for virtually the whole week-end. Alf Stanley says he ordered the week-end as described although doubt exists about the veracity of his claim. The only negative was the fact that the trails weren't groomed (as promised by the Park Office). On the plus side, the trails were used by only one other skier prior to our arrival. The snow base was great and the fresh snow sat waiting for our skis only. Except for the temperature, it doesn't get much better than this! It truly was like a 'winter wonderland.
While the wood was somewhat wet to begin with, Alf, Mike and Sherri soon had the cabin at a very comfortable temperature. Following a short ski just before supper, Eldon greeted us as we returned. Word has it that he was just waiting for the cabin to warm before making his entrance. After supper, many stories were told - some verging on the believable! We all enjoyed Sherri's humor and quick wit. It was great fun. Mike and Eldon exchanged their usual barbs and pleasantries as only great friends can do.
Around 10:30 p.m., a knock on the door signalled that Glen had arrived. Everyone had just hit the sack so to speak. No sooner had Glen arrived than he left the cabin to set up his bivouac for the night beside the woodpile. Around 8:30 a.m., we saw a hand emerge from his sleeping bag. It was like Lazarus arising from the dead! But Glen was safe and sound. Now that's tough!
The week-end concluded with a final 8 km ski before some of the group left around 2pm. As well, we were all witness to two boisterous games of crib. It seems Eldon , Mike and Carol took a licking at the hands of Alf, Glen . No doubt revenge will be sweet! Carol and Bill Stadnyk and Shannon Kent arrived earlier in the day.. Eldon and Glen were joined later on Saturday afternoon by Jackie Beckta, Fred Good, Donna & Aaron Kulbacki to stay for another night.
All in all, it was a weekend of great friends, great scenery and good skiing!
January 14-16 - Winter Camp
For those of you who have never winter camped - it really is the most amazing experience, believe me!
Roger W had already set up camp when Vern and I arrived - and the wood stove was already chucking out an incredible amount of heat. The tent was among the trees and really sheltered from any wind. After a short snowshoe outing, we cooked our supper, ate by candle light, entertained Alf and Janis (who came to visit) & retired to our sleeping bags. The first thing I really knew about Saturday, was Alf's voice saying it was -40...had he come to see if we had returned to the cabin? It was too cold to ski, but we went for the most amazing snowshoe trip up towards Katherine Lake. Wow - it was beautiful! I guess we then cheated a little! We spent Saturday afternoon and evening in Roger and Cheryls cabin - playing games, drinking wine and eating a selection of Linda's superb cuisine!! By sunday morning the temperature had dropped to -41 and breakfast had frozen solid...this really was winter camping! After helping break camp we returned home - after cajoling frozen vehicles to start.
A big thank you to Roger for all his hard work and for making it such an enjoyable - Yes, enjoyable - week-end. Thank you too to Roger and Vern for topping up that wood burner with wood all night!!!
January 21-23 - Arrow Lake Lodge Friday was a stormy winter day with Travel Not Recommended, but all 19 of our fearsome Wilderness Club members (Vern, Norma, Donna, Aaron, Eldon, Janet, Patsy, Jane, Judy, Rubin, Shannon, Donna, Di, Grace, Terje, Sherry, Bob, Bill and Carol) showed up at Arrow lake Ranch for skiing and fun and eating Breakfast and Supper were served by Team 1 and 2 and were gourmet delights. Friday evening two of our group decided to ski Moose Lake at night but 11:30 to 1:30 was past most of our bedtimes!! The trail, according to them, was great however and moonlight provided most of the light they needed. Moose Lake ski trail is located in the far west end of Riding Mtn. Nat. Park 10 miles west of Deep Lake.
Twenty members departed at noon Saturday and skied Moose Lake which had been freshly groomed. Alf and Janis joined us for the day. We all made it back to the Ranch, had supper, and the evening progressed with games and a skit and finally the Wilderness Club Idol Search. Sherry and Judy were winners, with Donna and Bill coming in a close?? third. On Sunday, the cabins were left in good order and members departed. Most went back to Brandon but seven (Grace, Terje,Sherry,Di,Bob, Bill and Carol) went on to a fantastic ski at Baldy Lake with freshly groomed trails and super conditions, weather having warmed up to about -8 and sunny. Blair invited us in for refreshments and we then departed for home. Overall it was another great WWC weekend and Arrow Lake Lodge was a great spot to relax. Arrow Lake Lodge consists of a main log lodge and two smaller log cabins located on the shores of Arrow Lake. Arrow Lake is located north of Vista, Mb. east of Rossburn.
January 29 - Day Ski on the Epinette Trail
The Westman Wilderness Club had a great afternoon of x-country skiing on the Epinette trail in Sprucewoods Provincial Park . Eldon Schmitz was our leader and was joined by Jackie Beckta , Fred Goods , Sherri Gates and Bob Mason . The 16 km return route was enjoyed amidst balmy -2 to plus 2' C. temperatures and at times with flat light with poor contrast on a very fast track. So it was challenging at times and the warmer waxes came out . The trail also had several other groups participating , which was great to see .There is a good snow base , so the skiing should last when the spring skiing arrives. The Epinette Ski Trails and the Spruce Woods Prov. Park are located off #5 highway south of Carberry, Manitoba
Bob Mason .
February 5-6 - Cross Country Ski to Cairn's Cabin
This trip was organized by Alf Stanley who was joined by Mike Rossier, Sherry Bates and Roger Winger. At the Ochre River trail head, we had a pleasant surprise. The trail had recently been groomed. A Brandon Sun article on January 29th about skiing into Cairn's Cabin had referred to having to break trail. This was my first ski into Cairn's Cabin and after wiping out on the first 3 hills, I learned to adjust to skiing with a loaded backpack. Sherry, Mike and Alf did better on the icy hills which I often chose to walk down. The importance of bringing emergency equipment was demonstrated when Sherry cracked one of her ski poles. Alf had brought a role of hockey tape and a sapling was cut to make a splint for the ski pole which lasted the rest of the trip.
The cabin was in great shape. Someone had done an excellent job of replacing the window and frame in the loft. Everyone enjoyed the comfort of the cabin. The trip out was slow but steady, as some fresh snow and the (-17) temperature, made the trail sticky.
Once again, all that hard work by the Westman Wilderness Club back in 1989 helped to make a great weekend. Cairn's cabin is located 14.3k down the Ochre River trail in Riding Mountain National Park. The Westman Wilderness Club build the cabin in 1989.
February 12 - Downhill Skiing
Back in October, at the planning meeting, we picked a date to go downhill skiing and did we ever do it right. With the temperature hovering around 0º C six members and one guest had a great day shooshing down the hills at Asessippi Ski Park, Russell. We met back at Norma and Verne's and were joined by five more members for a delicious supper.
February 19-20 - Cross Country Ski
The Jackfish Lake expedition took on a slightly different form this year. When Eldon was the only intrepid skiier to sign up for the tour, and the park office told us the trail would be icy, we decided to leave our backpacks at home and explore a trail the Wilderness Club seldom skis. A few phone calls drew out some more members, and Bill & Carol and Donna & Aaron joined us for a ski on the Yellowquill trail. Yellowquill's rolling hills were perfect for the crusty conditions, and the different loops allowing us to ski a fast 3, 8 or 11 km. We all headed back to Eldon and Janet's for a steak barbecue (and the odd glass of rum).
All in all, we enjoyed the day so much, we decided on a repeat for Sunday. Eldon fired off a quick e-mail to all members, but it seems that people don't read their e-mail on Saturday night or Sunday morning. There weren't many bites--but Howard Avery joined Donna, Eldon and Judy for another Spruce Woods ski. This time we explored the Seton trail on the West side of Highway 5. Five cm of new snow changed the conditions a bit, but the sun was shining and it was another glorious day. A sausage barbecue in the hut at the trailhead capped things off, and we were ready for the trip home.
February 26 - Day Ski on Grey Owl trail
It was a great day for a cross-country ski into Grey Owl's cabin in Riding Mtn Nat. Park. Eleven club members met for a hearty breakfast at the Southgate Hotel restaurant in Onanole before commencing the ski. Conditions were perfect for skiing with the temperature hovering around -5º C. It took 2 hours of actual sking to ski the 17.6 k. Afterwards everyone met at the Stanley's cottage for snacks, drinks and good conversation. Members taking part were Brent & Maureen Munroe, Alf & Janis Stanley, Sherry Gates, Di Ingram, Linda Boys, Grace & Terje Hellebacken, Eldon Schmitz and Wayne Schmitz.
March 6 - Spirit Sands Snow Shoe
Nine members, and one guest, showed up for an adventurous day of snowshoeing on the Spirit Sands Trail in Spruce Woods Provincial Park. It was a beautiful morning, with a slight breeze out of the west, when we met at the trail head. We started the 6k trip on the lightly packed trail and an hour and a half later we climbed up a hill and entered the "Manitoba Desert". The wind picked up and the snow, that the weather office had been promising for twenty-four hours, started to fall. It snowed for the remainder of the trip with a significant accumulation by the time we were ready to ski off the dunes. Yes I said ski. Now just bend down, lean back, put your arms out for balance, hands on the snow and keep the tips of your snowshoes up. It went off without a hitch and the group can now say they can ski on snowshoes. Overall I think it was a great day.
March 12 - Down Hill and Cross Country Ski
Verne K. organized this Cross Country Ski. We met at South Gate Motel for a lunch and then skied into the warming hut on the Grey Owl Trail . From there we branched off to the Cowan Lake Trail. The Grey Owl Trail was groomed perfectly but the Cowan was groomed by we, the skiers. A beautiful day of skiing was wrapped up with a coffee at Stanleys' cottage and then a most delicious pot luck supper at the Burridge Cottage. The Cross Country Skiers were Alf, Janis, Carol, Mike R, Verne and Norma. Bill S. was the support crew. We were joined for the pot luck supper by the down hill gang, Eldon, Chad, Wayne & family, Ed , Donna and Erin, who had gone to the Assessipi ski hill at Russell. Thanks to Janis and Alf, Ed and Linda for the use of their homes.
March 19 - Hellman Ski Trails
Fifteen people skied the Hellman trails, southeast of Virden. Those doing the ski were; Alf and Janis Stanley, Sherry Gates, Di Ingram, Terje and Grace Hellebakken, Vern Kachkowski, Shannon Kent, Bob Mason, Donna Drake, Marg Nestor, Bill and Carol Stadnyk, Judy Bartel and Maureen Munroe.
It was a sunny, blue sky day, 4 C and no wind. We met at the trail parking lot at 11:00. Sherry decided to head to Minot--OK-- she didn't make it to Bellview before she turned around and called Alf and found us. In future if Shannon says it is 4 miles off # 1 just divide by 2!
Marg and Shannon led the 2 hour ski through rolling terrain, stands of aspen, oak and a couple of willow tangles. Much of the trail was scenic; along the pipeline trail we saw a deer carcass and many coyote tracks and six live deer crossing the trail as well as a grouse. The ridge trail was interesting, then we came down and entered the bowl with the high cliffs. We ate lunch on the side of a sandhill that was free from snow.The oak trees in the area are a favorite sunning spot for porcupines. In the bowl at the top of the ridge another deer was spotted.
We finished off at Shannon's with an unplanned potluck and drinks, thanks to everyone who thoughtfully contributed.The weather, the snow and the company were superb! A map of the Hellman Trails will be added to the map book shortly.