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!!

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

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.”

Shades of white

This is a time of year I absolutely love. It is delightfully quiet. In the last 15 years, I have noticed that we have a much greater prevalence of moisture in the winter months. This is often deposited in the form of hoarfrost, which I had previously written about. Here is a short slideshow of some recent images taken in Riding Mountain National Park. Call us if you are interested in a short outing to learn how to use your digital point and shoot, or your digital SLR to catch winter at its best. 1.204.848.4680 Earth Rhythms.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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