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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Stories in the snow by Debbie McKeown (Travel writer)

As you may remember, Debbie McKeown (an adventure travel writer), at the invitation of Travel Manitoba, came to Riding Mountain National Park to experience snowshoeing in early February.  Staying at the Elkhorn Resort & Solstice Spa, Debbie took part in a number of unique experiences coordinated with Earth Rhythms and national park staff, dined at the Elkhorn Resort and Prairie Seasons Bakery & Café in Onanole, and soaked their snowshoe-strained muscles at the Solstice Spa.  Debbie was writing a feature article for a well-established online magazine called Snowshoe Magazine to feature the park, Earth Rhythms’ snowshoe packages, and snowshoeing as an adventure and learning experience in Manitoba.

Read her delightful article Stories In the Snow-Riding Mountain National Park and see some of her husband Jack’s photos of their time at Riding Mountain National Park.  While there are many who go south as Canadian snowbirds, it is positively delightful to see that Debbie and Jack have an audience at Snowshoe Magazine who are looking for the northern boreal experience.

Best Practices Mission to Manitoba tops expectations

We snowshoed, we baked bread with babas, we carved ice sculptures at Festival du Voyageur, we learned about honey bees and how to weave cane seating for furniture seats, we learned about Hutterite traditions and ate organic food with Prairie Seasons Bakery, we learned Ukrainian dancing and watched a cymbale being played; we went behind the scenes to reflect, to discuss and to share the kinds of practical ideas that could be put to work as unique tourism experiences.  A cultural GPS adventure quest with Tourisme Riel in which we encountered unique characters, actors and moments of Francophone history within the St. Boniface area was outstanding.  And, finally, an evening of incredible cuisine with Chef Alex and his wife Daniele at Bistro 7 1/4 topped off the entire trip.  How to do Manitoba in six easy days!!

Tourism Atlantic Best Practices Mission participants learn to bake Ukrainian Easter Breads in Dauphin

Atlantic Best Practices Mission participants make & bake Ukrainian Easter breads in Dauphin

A Best Practices Mission it was called…. to learn about experiential tourism, in winter!  This was a professional development opportunity for 16 Atlantic Canada tourism operators initiated supported by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.  Earth Rhythms was asked to create and deliver this Best Practices Mission in its backyard – Riding Mountain National Park – where we have been successfully crafting and delivering unique tourism experiences with our local community partners for over 13 years.  

One of the participants, Anne Arsenault, from western PEI  shared her enthusiasm for what she encountered during a week in Manitoba in the middle of February…….”I just wanted to thank you all for making this mission the best I have ever attended. You were all inspiring, from Celes and his associates to Johanna and all you fellow participants, it has been a pleasure!  

There were a few ah ha moments for me which opened my eyes to new opportunities in my own community and region. The process now begins to enrich and build upon the experiential product offering we have already developed and that gives me great hope and excitement for the future…..

It has become very apparent to me that we all have beauty and uniqueness in our respective communities but what makes it most special and interesting to our visitors is the passion that the local authentic people bring to it……it is all about making that personal connection to place…..with that being said I have great memories of Manitoba largely due the special people we had a chance to meet including everyone of you!”

Earth Rhythms offers customized itineraries and unique experiences in 4-seasons for corporate groups, women’s groups, getaways, and family celebrations.  Call us at 1.204.848.4680 and ask us just one question..”What can we do to uniquely help you take away memories of things to do in the Riding Mountains, that you have never done anywhere else in the world?”

Night adventure – wolves and elk

Guests learn about wolf feeding behaviour at Riding Mountain National Park.

Guests learn about wolf feeding behaviour at Riding Mountain National Park.

During the annual Christmas Bird Count a couple of years ago, everyone received notification by noon that wolves had just taken down a cow elk.  By 1:00 PM, we were observing an autopsy.

Diagnosis:  Lactacting cow elk; unlikely to have any TB lesions based on a cursory examination of in situ lymph glands; pregnant with calf; killed by wolves.  That was on December 22.

When we returned a few days later, the entire carcass had been consumed except for a the skin, ribs, muzzle, and a few other bits and pieces.  During that winter, we had the opportunity to guide many guests on a guided GPS adventure quest to discover the story of how wolves kill elk; find the site; try howling for wolves; and enjoy the night air.

This photo was taken with multiple light sources – an underexposed (-2 stops) flash on my camera, the headlamps on the snowshoers, as well as the red light from my own headlamp.  To take a photo like this, remember to take a ski or hiking pole that has a threaded camera mount in the top of the hiking staff.  These are available from Leki, as well as other sources.  Makes taking a photo which requires a fairly still moment for a slow exposure like night time quite possible.

Earth Rhythms provides guided night snowshoe outings.  

Call 1.204.848.4680 to plan your outing.