Dusk to moonlight visits enhance the senses of the season

Bison on fescue prairie backlit by setting sun  ©2016 Celes Davar

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Most of the time we plan our travel outdoors to be between morning and late afternoon. But, what if we travelled outside those hours – say, for example as dusk morphs into darkness under an almost full moon. At Riding Mountain … Continue reading

Fall in Love with Riding Mountain Acoustical Evening Walks

You’re walking at dusk into the wilds of Riding Mountain with your guide Celes Davar. We listen, as night descends – for grunts, howls, bugles and other night sounds. Hands-on activities in the woodlands to identify and learn. Slow travel, we call it! To top it off, you’ll savour Foxtail Café snacks and hot beverages. Each Saturday features a different Manitoba songwriter’s songs, stories, and perspectives about Canada and its wilderness.

Beaver Pond 2_©Celes Davar

Fall in the Riding Mountains offers beautiful weather and great opportunities for walking and enjoying nature.

The poster for this unique fall experience Fall in Love With Riding Mountain Nature_V8_16August can be downloaded and shared with your friends and network. We would love to see you and your family or friends for this unique program.

SATURDAY DATES AVAILABLE:  Sept. 10, 17, 24, and Oct. 1 & 8 only.

PRICE (Not suitable for children under 14) per participant :

  • $115.00pp + $5.75 GST = $120.75

Please Book Your Participation in either of the following ways:

  1. Please call 204-867-7152, and leave your return phone number, name, the number of persons you are registering, and the date you are requesting. We will call you back to confirm availability and obtain your credit card information, OR
  2. Please email the following information to celes.davar@earthrhythms.ca to request your registration: Your name, telephone number, email address, the number of persons you are registering, and the date you are requesting. We will return your email with confirmation, and call you via telephone to get your credit card information.

What is included?

  • Safe guiding into the national park with Celes Davar, natural and certified national park guide.
  • A 2 – 3 hour walking experience including storytelling & identification of tracks, scats, sounds, and other signs of wildlife in the area
  • Interactive participation in various activities about the acoustical fall sounds in the wild – elk, moose, wolves, and migrating birds (including learning to make different calls).
  • Ecology, behaviour and food requirements of elk, moose, and wolves of Riding Mountain with up-to-date information.
  • Learn how to differentiate different “night sounds” and share moments of silence in the wilderness.
  • Hot beverages & snacks after the adventure walk
  • After the walk, an hour encounter with a Manitoba recording artist & songwriter who will share their wilderness stories, songs, and experiences. Featured artists include Jesse Matas (Crooked Brothers), Carly Dow and Ingrid Gatin.

What is not included?

  • Park Admission Fees.
  • Your warm clothing, boots, and other personal items to ensure that you stay warm during your  outing.

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Transition

In a season of transition like October in Manitoba, you’ll see and smell fall as a distinct season. Whether it’s highbush cranberries, or nanny berries, or rose hips, the yellow and gold typical of the aspen parkland comes alive. Corporate retreats, small group hikes, and guided experiences in nature are ways that corporate teams, groups, leadership teams (youth and adult) can experience Riding Mountain National Park. An easy way to do this is to check out places to stay like The Lakehouse in downtown Wasagaming, the Elkhorn Resort & Solstice Spa in Onanole, or Honeycomb Bed & Breakfast in Onanole.

As a transition season, the sights and smells are different. But, for many organizations, boards, businesses and community groups, this transition season is an important one to reset budgets, to re-boot ideas for organizational change, or to celebrate a good year. For all these reasons, the Earth Rhythms team, based in Onanole, Manitoba (beside the national park) is a starting point to ask questions about how they might help you to customize your own retreat or business getaway.

Our certified guides and facilitators create imaginative and deep training. They are experienced in a number of outdoor skills and love taking visitors to new places in the park in all seasons. Next season is winter – when snowshoeing and snow tracking in day or night become a great new way to experience the outdoors together.

Perhaps some of these images will inspire you to think about bringing your group or team to the Riding Mountains.

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Stories in the Snow

As a local resident, guide for our company Earth Rhythms, and photographer, I am thrilled with the ability to share the stories I see in the snow during the winter months using the digital medium. The combination of digital image-making cameras and HD video combined with such powerful and simple to use tools like Mac OS iMovie (new version as of OS Mavericks is FANTASTIC and even easier and more intuitive to use) make it possible to share digital stories easily.

Riding Mountain National Park’s winter months offer superb opportunities to experience a national park when there are less visitors, no bugs, and using snowshoes gives you access to locations you would not easily get to in the other three seasons of the year. In addition, the snow surface itself provides an abundance of stories in the snow surface. The lack of leaves makes it much easier to “see into the bush” and see longer distances and catch sight of mammals and birds that you might not normally see.

Here is a fresh edition of Stories in the Snow – with a combination of photos and video. I hope that you enjoy!!

The “Rules” of Rural Manitoba

Recently, I came across a terrific post by a Dauphin resident Tash Ryz. She was responding to an email she had received which provided information about a different set of “Rules” of rural Manitoba. I am not sure which version she received, but I did Google up Rules of Rural Manitoba, and found one edition. I can see why she did not agree, and wrote her own version for Dauphin, Manitoba based on her upbringing and personal experiences. These are so well-written, positive, and embrace the spirit of not only Dauphin, but much of rural Manitoba, that I wanted to re-post them here. This is about how to “experience” Manitoba, here in the Riding Mountains. I’d love to see us develop experiences that live and practice these 12 “rules” for both travellers and local folks alike. Well done Tash!

The “Rules” of Rural Manitoba

May 27, 2012 at 11:35am

I was recently forwarded an email about the “Rules” of Rural Manitoba.  I didn’t agree, so I wrote my own version of how I see Dauphin, Manitoba based on my upbringing and personal experiences.   Please add your own comments and awesomeness!

1. We wear what is most comfortable in the prairies. T-shirts and jeans for work? Absolutely.  Pajamas at the mall? Sure.  Rubberboots at the grocery store?  Why not? From ski-pants to hot pants, we wear what we want, when we want.  We encourage you to do the same!

2. We drive many different vehicles in the prairies. It is perfectly acceptable to drive a car, grain truck, tractor, snowmobile, dirt bike, golf cart or even a riding lawn mower to get around.  If you are walking somewhere, you will be offered a ride. If you are stuck, someone will stop to help you push.

3.  Our license plates say “Friendly Manitoba” for a reason. Expect strangers to wave and say hello, because we live by the slogan “a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met!”

4.  No plans for dinner?  No problem, we always make more food that we need, so please stop by for a visit.  We always have an extra place for a new friend!

5.  We like to eat meat and fish that we have hunted and processed ourselves-without added chemicals or preservatives.  The pickerel is delicate and lovely; the garlic deer sausage is spicy and ridiculously good.

6. Don’t eat meat? No problem.  Our backyard vegetable gardens are massive and the hot summer sun helps us to grow the best tomatoes and strawberries you can imagine! Furthermore, most of us have apples trees, raspberry bushes and other berries growing right in our backyard.  Please help yourself!

7. Expect to be put to work- either helping in the kitchen, shovelling snow, picking stones in the field, helping move a truck or lifting something heavy.  We all take care of each other and try to lessen the load when we can.  As a side effect, your body will feel good, your mind will be clear and the food will taste even better!

8. Please turn off your cell phone. Enjoy the open sky, smell the fresh air, listen to the stillness.  We enjoy face-to-face conversations and like to take things slow.  Please pay attention and listen to the person you are with.

9. You will get dirty- either dirt biking through the mud, running through a field or riding in the back of a pick-up truck.  But you will have so much fun that you won’t even care!

10. Our thunderstorms are fierce and energizing.  Enjoy the show, but watch out if your hair stands on end!

11. Our lakes are abundant and we take full advantage of them-  in the summer we swim, boat and fish.  In the winter, we drive our vehicles right on the ice, set up shack villages and then fish, drink, visit and go sledding with our friends.

12.  We love to laugh, to sing and do silly creative things.  We don’t take ourselves too seriously, so please join in and have some fun!

 traditional Ukrainian braided bread

Welcome message symbol – Ukrainian braided bread

In rural Manitoba, our hearts are a big as our open fields and our minds as expansive as the never-ending sky.  We welcome you to our land!

Snow and Hoarfrost Winter Magic

I find living in a snowy environment quite reassuring. Whether blizzard, sunlit morning, or soft snowfalls, it’s really quite magical if you pause and reflect on it for a moment. That is, a season of the year in which there are no bugs; we can walk on water; and we see the heavens at night filled with stars. Here are two images taken during the winter months: One is early morning on a very cold day (probably -20C or colder), in which we had a column of hoar frost crystals in front of our home. I am not sure what causes this kind of dazzling columnar effect, but it lasted long enough for me to have a cup of coffee and take the photo, before it dissipated. In the other photo, taken today (Dec. 4, 2013), a light snow-storm is brewing across Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park. Everything is muted. There is a stillness and it is cold and windy (-19C with windchill taking it down to -25C). The singular tones of this image setting are part of the great quiet and peace that I hope that we never take for granted in our national parks. Winter photography is fun. Just getting outdoors in winter is fun.

Hoarfrost crystals in the air Clear Lake late afternoon snowstorm

Onanole Cultural Hotbed of Things To Do Dec. 6 – 8, 2013

Onanole, Manitoba is the southern gateway to Riding Mountain National Park. It is becoming a cultural hotbed of artisans, restaurateurs, and innovative entrepreneurs who are creating new visitor experiences and services in four seasons. The national park ski trails are tracked and snowshoeing is already outstanding throughout the park. This weekend promises a lot of cool culture – A Christmas Show & Sale at Orion Studio  at 216 Orion Drive (please see poster attached for hours) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Saturday also features the annual Crawford Park Craft Sale just west of Onanole. Saturday, Dec. 7 is the annual Harvest Sun fund-raising Dinner & Concert, which will take place at the Onanole Community Centre. Advance tickets are required. Greg MacPherson & Leanne Zacharias will be performing. Harvest Sun Catering will be provide a “locally sourced” dinner. Finally, all of these activities will be anchored by some of the best cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in Manitoba. Snow conditions are fantastic – with over 15cm of fresh snow in the Wasagaming area, and 20+cm at Moon Lake. Trails are packed and many track set. This is a snowshoeing paradise!

Harvest Sun annual dinner and concert

Annual fund raising dinner and concert for Harvest Sun Festival

Orion Studio annual Christmas Show & Sale, Onanole, Manitoba

Orion Studios annual show and sale featuring Sue Davar Pottery and fellow artist

The art is in the creature

spruce grouse ©Celes Davar

Spruce Grouse ©2013 Celes Davar

One of my greatest joys living at Riding Mountain National Park is to head out for some “slow travel”, where I drive slowly to a random location, get out of my car and just slowly listen, walk, or snowshoe. Riding Mountain National Park  is a large national park where things become so much clearer in the months between November and April. It may be that you get to see tracks in the snow from wolves, grouse, or lynx – tracks you would never notice at other times of the year. A bird on a branch. A raven calls. Things seem to be more intense, quiet, and there are less distractions. It is a wonderfully rejuvenative time of year. Yesterday, I had a quiet encounter with a spruce grouse. The male is colourful. It’s a bird that lives in boreal (coniferous forests). Notice that this one is on a jack pine branch. This bird, as described by Cornell University’s All About Birds site is  the north-eastern species. “Two distinct subspecies of Spruce Grouse exist. “Franklin’s Grouse,” D. c. franklinii, found in the southwestern portion of the range, in the mountains from Alberta southward, has an all black tail with small white spots on the feathers overlying it. The northeastern subspecies, D. c. canadensis, has a rufous tip to the tail and lacks white spots above the tail.”

Occupy Winter & World Snow Day activities in Riding Mountain

Occupy Winter – Jan. 19 & 20, 2013  Occupy Winter- Moon Lake Poster

Join other Canadians and celebrate Occupy Winter – We ♥ Our Fourth Season all across Canada January 19 and 20, 2013. At Riding Mountain National Park, there will be events. PLEASE NOTE: You can CLICK on and download all of the posters on this post at larger size.

LEARN MORE: Interview with Celes Davar about Occupy Winter.

  • January 19, 12:00 Noon   all afternoon at Moon Lake in Riding Mountain National Park
  • January 19, 7:00 PM (Wasagaming picnic shelter behind the Visitor Centre): A special potluck supper and night snowshoe out to Clear Lake to experience the night sky and stars of Riding Mountain’s dark skies with Buzz Crowston. SPECIAL TREAT: Grandview singer-songwriter and Home Routes performer/host Kayla Luky will be on hand to sing a new song dedicated to Occupy Winter.Occupy Winter Evening Program poster
  • January 20, 10 AM – A snowshoe adventure at Mt. Agassiz. Meet at Agassiz Park Lodge, McCreary
  •  January 20, 11 AM – all afternoon. World Snow Day, Wasagaming (Clear Lake) at the Friends of Riding Mountain Learning Centre.

Over 4,000 Canadians have either joined or been invited to take part in Occupy Winter (Facebook Event), and more than 900 people have signed a national petition requesting Parks Canada’s CEO Alan Latourelle and the Minister of the Environment Peter Kent to please consult with Canadians and restore winter services in all national parks. Winter services (the four

th season) were eliminated from Parks Canada operations as a result of the last federal budget.

Occupy Winter is an opportunity to request Parks Canada to:

  1. Reverse the policy shift (2012) that created most national parks as three-season national parks, rather than four season.
  2. Consult Canadians about what we would like to see for winter services at each national park.
  3. Understand and recognize that winter is a distinct season and part of our national identity. We celebrate winter as community, families, and travelers. And, we do that in our national parks.

What can you do?

  • Sign the national petition to Parks Canada CEO Alan Latourelle and Environment Minister Peter Kent – SIGN THE PETITION to Restore Winter Services and Four Seasons to all national parks.
  • Ask your MP to represent a formal petition from your community to the House of Commons requesting Parks Canada to rescind the three seasons designation.

World Snow Day at WasagamingWhat are the Issues?

Radio Interview (CDKM, Dauphin) with Manitoba’s Celes Davar (who operates who explains what Occupy Winter is about and why Parks Canada’s decisions to shift national parks to three seasons affects us all. This is not good decision-making on the part of Parks Canada.

The following are important aspects of this policy shift that we are asking Parks Canada to specifically assess and take action on:

  1. Parks Canada has created a policy shift, without consultation with Canadians, that is not consistent with how Canadians use and value our national parks in winter. Recommendation: Reverse the decision to establish three season national parks. Establish a consultative process with Canadians across the country and with local stakeholders to determine how best to re-establish winter services in each national park.
  2. Canada is a country that is distinctly northern, has snow, and has a rich and long tradition of cross-country skiing, watching wildlife, snowshoeing, and various winter events and activities in our national parks throughout the winter months. Recommendation: That we use this distinct geographic and market positioning as part of how we promote the Fourth Season (winter) as a time for healthy exercise and lifestyle, winter tourism, appreciation of Canada’s nature and wildness in winter, and active community celebrations of our national parks in winter. The benefits will include new revenues, new marketing opportunities, and a sustainable educational program.
  3. Our national parks are iconic Canadian places for healthy outdoor activity including self-propelled forms of winter activity and recreation (skiing, snowshoeing, skijoring). Recommendation: Establish a core level of park staff and associated operating funds to create, deliver and market winter recreational services, education, interpretation, and winter science and environmental monitoring. Invite this core group of park staff to collaborate with local community tourism businesses and organizations to explore unique ways that each national park can partner to create and deliver these services with community partners. Empower each park manager to establish appropriate funding and staff for developing collaborative strategies with external partners.
  1. Our annual park admission fees include access to trails, facilities, and winter services that Parks Canada has been providing to us. Access to these winter services was included within the calculation of admission fees to each national park for which each park user pays. Recommendation: Continue to include the costs to provide winter services within park admission fees. Additional revenues in winter should be used to help offset budgetary deficits.
  2. It is very important to recognize that winter visitors are very different from summer park visitors. They are people who love winter sports, skiing, snowshoeing, or wildlife viewing. They are some of the strongest supporters of our national parks, and include urban enthusiasts, as well as many residents from surrounding communities next to national parks who frequent winter trails. They advocate for each national park. Winter visitors come in smaller numbers and they come for very different experiences than summer visitors. Recommendation: Because winter offers Parks Canada a different opportunity to market winter as a distinct season, collect revenues, acknowledge local supporters and advocates, and partner with local tourism businesses to offer “the quintessential winter experience in Canada”, include winter as a distinct season of programming and activities for all national parks.

Response requested:

We ask that the CEO for Parks Canada Alan Latourelle, each national park Superintendent, and the Minister of Environment respond to the above petition and the five actions we have identified in consultation with Canadians. We ask that this consultation and revised decision-making be conducted before June 1, 2013, and that Parks Canada communicate their decisions publicly.