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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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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A Sensory Season

Kayak, Clear Lake, Riding Mountain, Earth Rhythms, Manitoba Canada

New kayaks for Earth Rhythms wildlife viewing experiences

This is fall in the Riding Mountains. My short list of three things I love to do during the September, October season includes photography, listening to the elk rut, and listening to migrating waterfowl. But, this is also the season of harvest. The freezer is now almost full – tomatoes, fresh basil pesto, red pepper pesto, fresh locally raised organic Berkshire pork, fresh chickens and we are waiting for our annual delivery of local lamb. As this season takes on its colours and unique smells, it’s time to try out new things. We are trying out some new sit-on kayaks that are very stable and could easily be used for wildlife viewing. We like what we are learning. Stay tuned for some new water-based experiences in 2013.

Owl watching season

Owls fascinate me. They are definitely a passion of mine from a photographic perspective. But, I think that what I love most about owls is their behaviour. We learn lots from just simply sitting and observing them. This is a time of year when there are three owls that I look for – great gray owls; northern hawk owls; and great horned owls. Great grays and hawk owls are both active during the day time. Because the the leaves are off the trees, they are easier to see. Northern hawk owls can be seen in Riding Mountain during the winter months.

How to watch for owls

What is involved in looking for owls? A good pair of eyes – knowing what to look for, and learning to look at the landscape to distinguish the shape of an owl; being out at the right time of day for nocturnal owls (great horned owls, or spring arrivals of saw-whet or boreal owls); having a pair of bright field binoculars and a spotting scope; a field guide – either book or electronic editions; and being warmly dressed. Often, you are standing outdoors for short periods of time. By being warmly dressed, you’ll be able to persist and watch.

Great_gray_owl_Riding Mountain_©Celes Davar

Great gray owl in spruce

Here is a photograph of a great gray owl I noticed, as I was driving along. It swooped low across the road and then up into a spruce tree. If I had not noticed its flight, I likely would not have noticed it in the tree. It is very well camouflaged.

Earth Rhythms creates small group photo safaris to learn how to use your digital camera in new ways. Along the way we spot birds, photograph tracks, and share stories about Riding Mountain wildlife. Bring your family or friends. Combine it with a stay at a local resort or a visit with friends in the area. Call us at 1.888.301.0030, or visit Earth Rhythms online. Happy owling!

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.

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.

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

Tracks in the snow

When we follow our passions, we leave good tracks!!

We are a group of tourism professionals from Nova Scotia, on a mid-winter Best Practices Mission to Manitoba. While flying in to Winnipeg, we got our first glimpse of the Canadian prairies.

We were welcomed by Celes Davar, from Earth Rhythms, our leader and facilitator for the week. Our first surprise stop was at Constance Popps’ chocolate factory and shop. Constance Popp ChocolatierThere we got to experience Chocolatier Constance’s wonderful chocolate creations, as well as her stories and passions. It was interesting to hear her story on how she left her lucrative job to follow her passion leaving her own footprint.

Imagine wakening all your senses to the cold and sunny Manitoba morning with a fresh layer of snow. After meeting our guide and strapping on our snowshoes, we headed out into Riding Mountain National Park – the only tracks ahead of us were those of elk, rabbits (snowshoe hares) and martens. Our mission was to bring a natural restorative tea to Dale, who was studying the effects of Park Maintenance on local wildlife!  As we experienced making our trails along Moon Lake we could hear the crunch of the snow under our feet as we created new tracks in the fresh snow.

We crossed the bridge where the stream entered the lake, paused for a magical moment to close our eyes and listen to the silence.  Following the stream we soon found a Quinzhee (snow hut). As we were wondering what we were looking at, Dale’s head popped out! Riding Mountain National Park, quinzhee, quinzeeDale is studying the impact of his Park Maintenance job on the Park wildlife. As Dale enjoyed his tea, we crawled in and out of his Quinzhee, truly surprised by the room and the warmth inside! Feeling more comfortable on our snowshoes, we were able to allow ourselves to notice the warmth of the sun and the cute little bunny that ran along side of our tracks!

Blog Post by Sam de Ruyter, Stephen Workman, and Trudi Curley

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

A Manitoba perspective on governance and the state of our nation

Interesting Times
We are living in interesting times… I am watching two governments (one national, one provincial) mirroring each other in their current tactics to reduce the public service, reduce departmental budgets, and and ultimately reduce services to Canadians or Albertans, depending on which government we are talking about…

Here are some things that I am noticing:

1. Our Canadian parliament was prorogued when there was no requirement to do so, other than the Prime Minister was not willing to take the heat of the day. A waste of $48 million is estimated for having to pay parliamentarians for not being in the House for the 22 days that Parliament is prorogued.  In my view, this is irresponsible, as elected representatives accountable to the people of Canada.  Proroguing was to be used for very special circumstances.  It has now been used twice by Prime Minister Harper, both times when the heat became unbearable.

2. Stockwell Day as the new head of the Treasury Board is going to launch a spending review, promising years of spending scrutiny to find cuts to slay the deficit, reduce government budgets, government services and government expenditures.  Unfair and un-necessary.  The current government cut GST twice – with no requirement to do so – we have now encountered a major deficit as a country, which Mr. Day is going to try to recover by reducing government spending, public servants, and public services. GST should never have been cut – as a value-added tax, GST is paid by those who spend, not those who do not spend (in other words, it taxes discretionary spending.)  We could have fared much better in this economic downturn had we not trimmed GST.  When the budget comes up for a vote in March 2010, I dearly hope that it will not be passed.  This is not playing fair ball.  Yes, that means an election – but the present government has had its chance, actually several chances.  They fumbled, badly.  The irony right now is that the government has promised to balance the books without raising the taxes.  If they had not cut the GST in the first place, we would not be having to “shrink the public service”, chop grants for valuable social investments, or reduce support businesses or non-profits.

3. Instead of investing in the new and emerging hot green economy like Ontario has done and the US administration and several European countries (solar, wind, other  alternative energy technologies, and new manufacturing in green technologies), the current government chose to use “bailouts” instead of investments into growing a sustainable economy for the future.  Their support to “big oil” is both short-sighted and unsustainable.  Even Shell sees the larger global economic pattern and is pulling out of big investments and planned expansions in the Oil Sands and moving to other countries.  Read…Shell to slow expansion in Canadian tar sands.

Now, to Alberta
The provincial government is, by all reports, set to bring down a budget that will include significant cuts to Alberta’s public service. Just like in the 90’s when Ralph Klein made hurtful cuts that Alberta is still reeling from, Ed Stelmach is set to do exactly the same.

Calgary news release: Albertans join together for public services

Last Updated: January 15, 2010 Print Comments (0)New campaign challenges government not to cut fabric of our communities…

It’s interesting to note citizen responses to these parallel national and Alberta initiatives:

The Conservative government has tumbled in the polls this January 2010, as Canadians begin to understand the deep irony in what is taking place, and as the present government carefully tries to filter out what it does not want us to know.  Fortunately, with social and alternative media, we are learning about what is taking place through other means that are both credible and helpful.

In Alberta, an amazing movement is taking place…While the Alberta government swears in a new cabinet, representatives from community human service organizations, teachers, parent groups, health professionals, students, faculty and labour organizations launched a new campaign in Calgary and Edmonton to get Albertans to join together for public services…..To help mobilize citizens and bring together people from various sectors, we are organizing 22 town hall events across the province.

The town hall meetings will start January 25 and will go to a number of cities and towns before the final two large events in Calgary (February 16th) and Edmonton (February 17th). “We are building an extensive movement to challenge the plan to cut $2 billion out of the provincial budget,” says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “People need to deliver a very loud message to the government – deep cuts to public services are going to hurt people and our communities, and they are completely unnecessary given the continued growth of our economy and our billions in savings.”

This is not honorable
When a government makes bad decisions, invests in short-term tactics primarily for political gain, and does not respect some of the basic principles of sustainable economics, and then turns around and attacks the public service, reduces government services and budgets, expecting Canadians to support them, the people have to speak out.

This type of approach is not appropriate, not warranted, and definitely not honorable.  We, the people, will be the ones affected by reduced government budgets and services.  It is important to remember that public servants serve the people, but work for the government.  They are not in a position to object – their masters are the governing party.  It’s time to say… “enough is enough”.  We need both a more caring and economically savvy government.

For the record, this is a Manitoba perspective on the state of our nation!!