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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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!

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.

Young bull moose in testy mood

I remember the sage advice of John Shaw, a very good American photographer, from many years ago when a group of us attended a workshop about the business of nature photography. He was talking about the time investment that it takes to get good images.Young bull moose ©Celes Davar, Riding Mountain National Park “There is no use in not being there,” he reflected. Basically, he was encouraging us to be out there, following thunderstorms, walking, hiking, and being present. And, he cautioned us not to go out in search of specific shots, but to be present, and shoot the things that emerged by being present. It often makes for better photography. It was good advice, and continues to be good advice.

Yesterday, while hiking with travel writers from Germany, we witnessed an event that probably takes place all over the park in various locations each fall. But, rarely do we become witnesses to it.

A young bull moose eyed a small national park garbage container. Deliberately and repeatedly, this youngster attacked the container, waiting for a response. The whole sequence was interesting, funny, and informative. In viewing it a few times, I see how this young bull moose was testing its strength, learning the head motions with its antlers, testing its stance and how to leverage its strength, and getting used to what the appendages on its head were capable of doing. His behaviour was curious, exploratory, and demonstrated learning through repetition. Some things are quite universal in nature. Enjoy!

Chipmunk harvests seeds

Canada thistles ©Celes DavarOn a beautiful autumn day in Riding Mountain National Park, Monika and Rainer Hamberger and I walked on and off trail, discovering wildlife and unique fall nature events that were taking place. Monika and Rainer, with the support of Travel Manitoba are traveling through Manitoba on a 15-day itinerary collecting experiences, photographs, and insights from which they will write and publish articles for magazines and online media within Germany. We are grateful for their interest and love of “Canadian experiences in Manitoba”.

It was a warm and sunny day. Fall activities in the national park were in full swing. By that, I mean that wolves were howling early in the morning. Bull elk were bugling to keep their harems protected from other suitors. We spotted four bull moose. Wandering along elk trails, we discovered plenty of evidence of the previous night’s skirmishes and group activities.

On the return trip, a western chipmunk was stuffing its cheeks with Canada thistle seeds from a recent prescribed burn in the park.

Colors and contrasts

Fall in Riding Mountain National Park is a time of colors and contrasts. And, I don’t mean just visual. Contrasts of scents – highbush cranberry, elk urine, fresh rainfall, or the scent of changing aspen leaves. The colors are very understated and muted. It’s the sky that adds contrast of hue and tone. I was out cycling in the backcountry today.

A fresh scat from coyotes, a mark from a wagon train wheel (a group of horse-riders returning after spending a week backcountry camping and horse-back riding), a quick moving gray jay, and a floating red-tailed hawk were some of the things I observed.

But, what I loved most was the way that the clouds were scudding by, with a shaded neutral tone covering the landscape for a while, and if you just waited a couple of minutes, it would be sparkling in sunlight. Radiant, in fact.

Riding Mountain in the fall is a time to smell, photograph, hike, walk, and enjoy a season that is full of scents that will definitely remind you that this is a season to experience. Today, I hiked off-trail, cycled, photographed, and smelled. A great Sunday!

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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!

Garbage dumps are an archaeologist’s chocolate

Garbage dumps are an archaeologist’s chocolate“. With those words, Adrian Myers, PhD Candidate, with the Department of Anthropology & Stanford Archaeology Centre, Stanford University, gave me and insight to his sense of humour in the midst of a hectic and intense summer field season.

Along with a number of other colleagues that forms part of his team, they are mapping, excavating and discovering the archaeological history of the Whitewater Lake prisoner of war camp which existed between 1943-45. Adrian brings a passion for his work, a great sense of humour, and a good understanding of a research methods approach for this kind of research.

Earth Rhythms has been taking groups out to explore Whitewater Lake’s nature and history for over 15 years. It is great to add this archaeological chapter to the story of Whitewater Lake. Thanks to Parks Canada’s support of this research initiative, this story is coming to light in many ways. Our program – Wheels to ’43 – offers a great glimpse into the character of Riding Mountain’s backcountry as well as the spirits of years passed. Using unique interactive methods, this “backcountry experience” becomes fun and informative.

If you are interested in more information about this project, you can find out more at the Whitewater Archaeology Project blog site. Please note that this is a research site, and as such it is a location for learning and research. It is illegal to remove any artifacts from the site.

I enjoyed the bike trip in, realizing what poor physical shape I was in. The next few times will be much better. Please contact Earth Rhythms at celes.davar@earthrhythms.ca or call 1.888.301.0030 if you are interested in a customized (tailor made) trip to learn about the wildlife, history and archaeology of this unique location.

First hoar frost of the season

 

Hoar Frost on Thistle, Riding Mountain National Park

Hoar Frost on Thistle with moon rise

 

We are always delighted with the onset of winter, a time of the year when we get the opportunity to experience some amazing effects of weather.  Hoar frost is one of those phenomena that makes winter on the prairies so magical.

There are several online sources that offer an explanation of Hoar Frost (or radiation frost).  Hoarfrost refers to white ice crystals, loosely deposited on exposed objects or the ground, that form on cold, clear nights when heat losses (infrared radiation) into the open skies cause objects to a temperature which is colder than the dewpoint of the air next to the surface. Frost is frozen water that has condensed from some of the water vapour contained in the air.

Hoarfrost in Riding Mountain National Park provides great photographic opportunities for hikers, snowshoers, or wildlife viewers.  It tastes wonderful on your tongue.  It brings to life the magic of nature.  What I love about this kind of natural phenomenon is that some of the best things in tourism are not “things”; they are discoveries of the ordinary in your backyard.  We take it for granted.  Our guests, however, are looking for just this kind of extra-ordinary discovery.

Hoar frost and rising moon, Riding Mountain National Park

Hoar frost and rising moon

 

 

I look forward to introducing our visitors over the next few months to more of the special ways to experience Riding Mountain – a season of hoarfrost, snowshoeing, night-sky “star stitching”, wolf howling, tracking animal “Stories in the Snow”, and many more snowy delights.

 

West End Cultural Centre Canada’s greenest music venue

Main concert venue at WECC

Main concert venue at WECC

What does that mean – Canada’s greenest music venue ?  Since when does responsible environmental policy meet the music industry in terms of venues, infrastructure and building operations?

Does this mean that the building is painted green on the outside, or that a smart approach integrating sound business management with sound environmental policy has been achieved?

Listen to the artistic director of Winnipeg’s West End Cultural Centre as he weaves a fascinating story – Dominic Lloyd Interview about this west end cultural facility and its connection to community, its restoration as a viable and relevant community performing arts venue (particularly music), and the innovative use of environmentally sound management practices that have reduced its carbon footprint.  This is leading edge stuff.  Someone nominate them for an award – they are going after LEED Silver in Canada as a performing arts venue.

Small concert venue at WECC - seen through re-used glass windows

Small concert venue at WECC - seen through re-used glass windows

Thanks Dominic – I’m looking forward to hearing Harry Manx at the West End Cultural Centre on October 27.  Tickets are available through the Winnipeg Folk Festival Music Store.  You’ll notice that I said that the Harry Manx concert is through the Winnipeg Folk Festival, but the performance is at the West End Cultural Centre.   This is part of their revenue strategy.  There are two concert spaces (one large, one small)

Diseased elm processed and used as flooring in the restored West End Cultural Centre

Diseased elm processed and used as flooring in the restored West End Cultural Centre

that are available for rent for a variety of community and public events.   Creating spaces for community that are culturally relevant, smart examples of business operations, and wonderfully rich in artistic diversity.  Great to see!