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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Stars Stitched, Wolves Howled

Night sky viewing under full moon, riding mountain national park

When the full moon is up in February and you are out snowshoeing in Riding Mountain National Park, you do not need a headlamp or any kind of supplementary light. The blanket of snow acts as a big reflector illuminating your travel pathway. We had the opportunity to snowshoe under a full moon with a couple from Manitoba. With our head guide Buzz Crowston as our guide to the night sky using a special laser pointer, we headed to two off-trail locations. At the first one, as we shared stories of winter wolf ecology and behaviour, a pack of wolves (which the park has been monitoring) began howling. At the second location, we mused on the role of prescribed fire as we gazed on an eerie blackened landscape of spruce and jackpine spires thick like the back of an alarmed porcupine. The October prescribed burn in the Rolling River area quietly and expectantly waits for spring to release new growth into the landscape.

Our guests had a few things to share about this experience after they returned home…” Hi, we just came back from a walk this evening and the night sky is a brilliant as ever, the planets, the twins, the Big Dipper, the “M” for Michelle, we had to stop gazing and watch out for ice along our path. We just wanted to tell you again thank you so much for the evening, the pictures are great, and most of all the company and the stories was want made the evening a night to remember. Our family was very jeolous of the stories we came back with, especially our wolf loving son and story loving mom… Thanks again for sharing the evening with us, we have shared our story with so many people, we hope that one day, some may call you up for their own adventure.”

Travel writers to walk lightly in Riding Mountain

Dragonfly at sunset, Lake Audy, Riding Mountain National ParkWe are honoured to be able to offer the Wild Serenity (#RMwild) itinerary (Manitoba’s only itinerary for GoMedia) for a group of Canadian and international travel writers from September 14 – 18, 2011. With the assistance of Travel Manitoba, our provincial tourism agency, we are looking forward to introducing a number of pre-qualified writers – writers who have chosen to come here – to the Riding Mountains. This is about “experiential travel” (where travellers learn by doing), in the fall, in Manitoba, Canada.

What is GoMedia? GoMedia Canada Is a Canadian marketplace where  Canadian travel organizations get together to tell Canadian and international journalists about some of Canada’s best travel stories. And, just so you know, these stories are not always the ones that are in the news, or at the top of a mountain, or in a famous hotel.

So, what do we have planned? They will taste local foods (regional Riding Mountain cuisine), meet local folks who live here and are part of our local culture or arts scene, go for a walk in the woods, learn what “elk bugling” sounds like, provide opportunities for them to photograph the park and area. They will be off-the-beaten path on side roads, off-trail on animal trails, and perhaps doing some things that they have never done before.

We are pleased that many of our local partners will be providing them with unique experiences. The Elkhorn Resort and Solstice Spa is their base. Riding Mountain National Park is providing a number of unique experiences. Dauphin Tourism, Fort Dauphin and local partners will take us into the heart of local cultural traditions. Jeff Bettle at the Old Church Pottery & Gift in Minnedosa will introduce us to some of his unique pottery with a new experience called Fire & Earth. A signature fall meal will be provided by Siesta Cafe‘s Vaughn Barkman. Clear Lake Golf Course will take them on a behind-the-scenes insight what makes the golf course such a leader in green golf course management. Earth Rhythms will be the primary hosts here in Riding Mountain. We are a boutique tourism operator, creating customized itineraries for small groups year-round. We welcome these travel writers here!

Happy birthday photo safari!

As a boutique tourism operator, what do you say when a mother emails you and says, “We’d like to book one of your programs for myself and my daughter…it’s sort of a birthday present for each other. Both of us like taking pictures, but neither of us really know what we are doing.” I was honoured and immediately said yes. When anyone makes a date with their child, and decides to take them into nature on a photo safari, that tells me a lot about the commitment that they have in their relationship.

Customizing a photo safari

Photographing in a field of prairie flowersWe put together a number of elements – a customized GPS adventure quest in which mom and daughter guided themselves to some of my favorite photographic spots; I shared a number of stories about wildlife, birds, and showed them some of my wildlife videos on my iPad; they practiced using some of the features of their Canon Powershot cameras that they had not known how to use previously; we snacked on local muffins, blue giant hyssop tea (a local prairie wild herb) that I had steeped the previous day. We photographed late blooming canola fields and got a great shot of the two of them hiding in the canola.

From outside the park, we traveled first of all to a real Geocache (check out Geocaching, if you would like to learn how to find treasures all over the world using your GPS receiver); then to the canola field; and then straight to some wild prairie meadows. Along the way, we were birding – that is, looking for birds on prairie potholes and in small creeks. I shared with them my observation from the previous day of having seen a turkey vulture dining on a snack in the middle of the road – a young yellow-shafted flicker.

There is no excuse for not being there...” John Shaw, a well-known American nature photographer had once said at a photography seminar I attended in Edmonton, Alberta. Indeed. There we were, in the middle of the fescue meadows in the heart of Riding Mountain National Park, each photographing something slightly different. We heard a sudden bouncing movement. A spotted fawn white-tailed deer came to a crashing stop a mere 10 metres from us. Nobody knew quite what to do. A few seconds later, it bounded away into the sunlight, and the nearby forest. We all looked at each other, stunned. Nobody got the picture. But, we all took away the memory.

We finished off this adventure by quickly downloading mom and her daughter’s photos to iPhoto, and together they choose the photos to put into their own hardcover book to commemorate their adventure. We pushed SEND to order the book. Together, they were commemorating their relationship with each other. What do you suppose that they will do with that book?

Portrait of mother and daughter in a field of canola

How do you plan and book your own customized photo safari or wildlife watch at Riding Mountain National Park?

  • Have a date in mind, that you would like to come and how long you would have available ( I would recommend about 6 hours including travel time, photography, walking, and having a bit of a picnic).
  • Be prepared in your own mind that this could be a rain or shine event. If it is a rainy day, we’ll still have fun. We’ll organize things a little differently. Some of the best photos are made on a rainy day. You’ll see different things as well.
  • Identify why you want to do this photo or wildlife safari. A couple of quick reasons will do.
  • What kind of camera do you own? We’ll download a copy of the manual to our iPad and take that with us, in case we run into any technical difficulties.
  • Leave us your phone number and email.
  • We’ll call you back and start planning some of the details, give you a sense of the cost, and confirm if this is a go. The final price we quote you is dependent on how much we do to prepare, and how many are in your group.
  • We create your outing including a small photo tips booklet, identify some new places that are ideal for photography, and provide hands-on instruction to use your camera to its maximum capability – macro, action, exposure compensation, telephoto, using tripods, photographing wildlife, landscapes, and many other details. If you are interested in video, we’ll help you to learn how to shoot video.
  • We confirm final details by email and telephone. We take payment in advance by credit card.

Who are some friends or family members that you might wish to take on a customized photo or wildlife safari to Riding Mountain National Park? We’d love to hear from you.

Please Contact us:

Celes Davar, President
Earth Rhythms, Inc.
1.888.301.0030 Office
celes.davar@earthrhythms.ca (Email)
Facebook: Earth Rhythms
Twitter: earthrhythms

Stories in the snow – March wandering

This past weekend (March 5, 2011)…

we had the pleasure of taking a couple of guests out on our Earth Rhythms Stories in the Snow day adventure program. What’s involved – some driving to look for owls and signs of winter birds; looking for fresh tracks of wolves and elk; wildlife viewing and digital nature photography tips; and a snowshoe outing. We had a great day traveling by vehicle, walking and snowshoeing in and around Riding Mountain National Park.

In two separate locations, we found overnight wolf tracks that were superb, fresh, and we were able to track them over long distances. Fresh elk, coyote,  and bison tracks all provided comparison size opportunities. While the main herd of bison were a distance away, we were able to watch them through our spotting scope. A short snowshoe outing took us off-trail into 1 metre deep snow. We were rewarded at the end of the day with a beautiful view of a red fox hunting. The slide gallery captures a few of the images from our day of exploring stories in the snow.

Here are a few images from our Stories in the Snow outing as well some other scenes that we may see on any given day that we head out on one of our Stories in the Snow outings.

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Raccoon fishing in creek

Raccoon fishes in creek ©Celes DavarIt was a perfect fall morning.  Still, temperature a -3C˚frosty chill – the kind that even with gloves on, goes right into your bones. But, it was sunny. Five bull elk were bugling around us. Tracks and scats of moose, elk, and coyotes were on the trail. Several side trails led to locations where elk had been active in their harems during the previous night. Their smell was pungent and present everywhere. I love mornings like this. I had primed myself at 5:30 AM on an espresso, a banana, and a peanut butter sandwich. Joining a friend from Wisconsin, who has been returning to Riding Mountain National Park for over five years (we had guided her on her first wildlife photography excursion in 2005), we were meandering – looking for wild nature to photograph and video.

Earlier this spring, we had the privilege of hosting a number of tour operators and travel writers from India, China, England, and Japan. One of them, Hiroko Yoshizawa, who loves Canada (has come to Canada over 80 times in the last 20 years), loved the way that we explored and engaged with the nature experiences we provided.

As leaders in experiential travel, we want our guests to truly immerse themselves in Riding Mountain’s wild nature. We had rain, snow (8 inches of it), and sun and everyone loved it.Travel writer in Riding Mountain_©Celes Davar

But, my take-away from their visit was Hiroko’s thoughtful comment and appreciative smile, as she shared that this was very enjoyable for her. She called it “slow travel”. She said that she would share her experiences with her Japanese audience and help them understand that Earth Rhythms provides “Slow Travel experiences”.

As my friend from Wisconsin and I finished off our day of photographing, I suggested that we head out to another location where I would share with her a creek location that I often enjoy stopping and looking for wildlife. We were in luck – a raccoon was fishing in the creek. With full sunshine, and that low angle of sunlight that accompanies the fall season, we were able to capture photographs and video of a curious and well-adapted mammal that spends a lot of time close to water. Enjoy this short video.

Wheels to ’43 – Backcountry Bicycle Adventure

There is nothing I love more than a mother who wants to make sure all of her family members are taken care of, during a summer vacation. Particularly, moms who also enjoy exposing her children to the wonders of nature through requesting and arranging for programs, customized specifically for their family.

Family bicycle adventure_Riding Mountain National Park

Today, I had the privilege of taking a family of five (mom and her husband and two kids, and mom’s sister) out on a very special trip that we (Earth Rhythms) have been guiding for over 15 years. Wheels to ’43 is a trip into the heart of the intriguing history of a Prisoner of War Camp (PoW) for German soldiers, that was located in the wilderness of Riding Mountain National Park from 1943 – 45.

This is a good summer physical activity – 11.2 km (7 miles) one way or 22.4 km return; it combines an all-day guided nature trip (identifying wildlife tracks; bird calls; animal scats), with a peek into a cultural and historical event that was very unique in Canada – German prisoner of war camp (PoW), and the opportunity for some unique photography. It helped that we were able to take advantage of the archaeological research that is ongoing in this location.  

We use a variety of interactive tools to help turn this backcountry adventure trip into a memorable experience: Reading stories from historical documents, newspapers, and personal anecdotes from previous prisoners; locating the different buildings that existed onsite from photographs and digital elevation maps; being detectives in “20 questions” to figure out some unique treasures; and walking around the site to discover various archaeological middens, and old wooden canoes carved by the prisoners.

Everyone returned home, feeling the spirit of elk, prisoners of war, and carrying new insights about this unique backcountry historical site. 22 km by bike on a day that was in excess of 27C, and a high Humidex was a great achievement for all who took part in this adventure trip.

Earth Rhythms provides fall backcountry bicycle adventures for families and small groups to photograph wildlife, experience the wilderness, and look for evidence of moose, elk, coyotes and other wild species. Call us at 1.888.301.0030 to book your small group guided day trip into Riding Mountain’s wilderness and experience a fall wildlife immersion!

Where The Fields End And The Forest Begins

The first thing I think about Riding Mountain is the ability to connect with nature, wildlife, and authentic Manitoba hospitality.  We were not disappointed.

We arrived after a long flight and coach ride through the wide open prairie spaces, and a climb over the mountain ridge to enter the forests of Riding Mountain National Park.  Greeted by friendly staff at the rustic Elkhorn Resort, we entered a great Canadian lodge nestled in the forests and  settled into our comfortable accommodations. We were wowed by a large fireplace. Our first night we enjoyed a relaxing dinner in front of a roaring fireplace of Manitoba Pickerel , a delicious white fish with a sinful mystery sauce.  The outdoor hot tub was the perfect ending for a long day …

Snowshoeing Riding Mountain National Park

We awoke to a beautiful warm sunny winter day with a hearty breakfast before leaving for our snow shoe adventure at Moon Lake.

  • Sheer beauty.
  • Tranquility.
  • Stimulated all senses.
  • The sounds of the wind blowing through the aspens.
  • The white of the snow. Untouched, except for animal tracks.

Usually snow is an annoyance, a make-work project.  Today, we embraced the snow and  connected to nature.  Following a stream naturally funneled us to our discovery of Dale, a Parks Canada employee, in a Quinzee hut while observing moose tracks and other wildlife.  We shared  a Manitoba  blend of tea.

We learned new technologies used by Parks Canada to capture wildlife activities as they occur in Riding Mountain including a motion-sensor camera. Parks Canada staff have a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm which they are happy to share.  Another “creature” discovered on our journey was Dean Gunnarson, World Famous Escape  Artist , now living in Riding Mountain.

A cross-country ski excursion allowed us to discover more of the Park for 15 minutes, before someone injured themselves. The Elkhorn hot tub and a Fort Garry Pale Ale was the perfect medicine to ease the pain of body and pride.

Riding Mountain is a place where we could reconnect with nature and replenish our soul. We left  of our fields of everyday life and monotony and embraced the rejuvenation of the forest.

Blog post by Calvin D’Entremont and Maegan Power-Noble,

Participants on the Nova Scotia Best Practices Mission to Manitoba, February 2010

Lost in the Wilderness!!!

Snowshoeing Moon Lake

Help!!!  We arrived in “total desolation” not knowing what to expect.  It was a “barren wasteland”.  The waiver we signed said “not responsible for death caused by wild animals and parasites”.  Oh-oh! They said this was going to be fun.  They said we were going to learn to partner, to build relationships, and to experience the “T” (tourism) word in a funky value-added format. This was going to be new, fun, interactive, exciting and ultimately beneficial to the bottom line. Ok…sure..whatever…  We had our doubts initially…but now we’re believers!!

The next day was looking up…a bit, at least.  Breakfast was great…generally a good sign, so all was not lost.  Our group was obviously in the same frame of mind.  They didn’t know what to expect either.  However, after a little tongue-wagging we soon learned that their trepidations and expectations were quite similar to our own.

Earth Rhythms was phenomenal!!  The experiential outings were enlightening.  We were drawn to the local customs and traditions.  We were absorbed in the uniqueness of a distinct culture and way of life, feeling as if we belonged to it ourselves and that it had always been our own.  That’s the power of experience and it’s something that everyone can benefit from.  We never dreamed we would dance a traditional Ukrainian jig that looked so amazing in its natural state…until it was utterly destroyed by a couple of rookie bluenosers.  Fortunately for us, we weren’t alone.  The others in our group were as equally “talented” and forgiving.  We felt much better!

It all boils down to this…no matter who you are, or where you go, everyone is the same.  We’re all interdependent and herein lies our strength as human beings.  Together, we can tap into a vast supply of resources that, with a little ingenuity, can benefit one and all.  Together, we can experience, learn, adapt, grow, and profit from each other’s experiences, perceptions and opinions.

We’ve learned to look in our own backyards for the plethora of valuable resources that go un-utilized every day.  These do exist and they’re there for the taking, but sometimes they aren’t revealed until another point of view is expressed.  The full value of those hidden treasures then manifest in a flash of insight, and the hidden economic potential that lies just under our noses is finally revealed.

Our backyards, like the Manitoba “wilderness” may at times seem barren, cold and forbidding, but they can also be warm and inviting.  A cozy bonfire, starting with a tiny glowing ember of warmth – friendship, camaraderie, revelation, and knowledge – eventually grows into a fiery, consuming blaze.  That’s the power of “experiencing” over “observing”.  That’s the power of networking, building solid relationships and lasting partnerships. That’s the power of Best Practices Missions in Manitoba.

Thank you Earth Rhythms!

Blog post by Gem Johnson & Dave Hovey,

Participants on the Nova Scotia Best Practices Mission to Manitoba, February 2010

Babas, Bread and the Ukrainian Beat

We spend so much of our time looking inside the physical space of churches; we never take the time to look at what goes on beneath.  Through the church hall doors, we could hear the pulsating, joyous beat of an Eastern European rhythm that led us down into a world beyond our own and yet so familiar.

Ukrainian ‘Babas’ are grandmothers to the community. And included in their community is anyone they meet.  Coming into their presence we were met with warmth and love.

Most grandmothers are eager to share their stories and traditions, and the Babas are no different.  Making Easter Breads in Dauphin ManitobaAnxiously pulling us over to the table, we were immediately put to work in learning the fine art of crafting ceremonial bread.  Taken under their wings, we kneaded and rolled, braided and decorated the Pascha bread.   Not written on the ingredient list was the huge dose of laughter and joy that goes into every loaf.

Food is the backbone of Ukrainian life.  Sustaining and celebratory, you can taste the pride in every hand crafted cabbage roll and pillowy perogy.  You are called upon to eat heartily and eat some more – so as to physically ingest the love that is put into every bite.

Then, you dance!

Learning Ukrainian dancing in Dauphin, Manitoba

Life does leave its mark on the faces of the Babas.  There have been hardships.  There have been trials.  But, at the end of the day, there is always celebration, joy, community and a respect for tradition.  Pulled out of our seats, we were swept up into lively dancing and laughter.

Whatever your religious or cultural affiliation, you walk away with a sense that these Babas are the true church – loving, sharing, caring and forgiving.  They hug you with their warmth and regret your having to leave.  But when you leave, you do so with the knowledge that you have left friends behind.

When and if we go back, we know the bread will be ready for us to braid and that a large plate of love and kinship will be set before us, with the inevitable smile and exclamation of “eat” whispered in our ear.

Blog post by Pat Hudson & Phaedra Charlton-Huskins,

Participants on the Nova Scotia Best Practices Mission to Manitoba, February 2010