Wilderness Edge Retreat and Conference Center

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Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow...  

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow...

Why Not Have a Winter Adventure!

There are only a few things that can be truly counted on and love it or hate it, snow in Manitoba is one of those things. Oh I don't mean the amount (which varies), the type or even exactly when it is going to happen. But just the simple fact, it will snow. This leads us to two basic choices. You can either stay inside and hibernate for five months (a thought that has occurred to everyone including myself) or get outside and enjoy the winter wonderland. To help you plan a winter outing I have collected my favourite winter activities below. For those of you who wish a more adventurous outing, like cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, check out the end of this article for checklists to help you be prepared.

Fun Things to do in the Snow:

Go on a snow scavenger hunt - The sample hunt below is a list of Inuit words for snow. Inuit cultures have an incredible number of words for snow types. Increase you powers of observation (and astound your friends) as you hunt out different kinds of snow.


Winter Scavenger Hunt


Falling Snow


Ground Snow


Snow of the boughs of trees


Sharply Etched Wind Eroded Surface


Arrow Shaped Snow Drift


Snow Drift


Overhanging Drift


Rough Surface of Large Particles


Bottom Snow Layer


Bowl Like Depression under Tree


Snow Shelter


Smooth Surface of Fine Particles


Smokey, drifting snow


Sun Crust


Ripple Type Drift


Wind Beaten Snow


Spot Chickadees These hardy little birds sing their song for the whole snowy season. Have a contest to see who can find the most chickadees. There are two kinds of Chickadees in our area. The familiar Black-capped Chickadee and the more illusive Boreal Chickadee. The Boreal Chickadee has a brownish cap, raspier voice and is slightly smaller than its black-capped compatriot. Only 10% of Manitoba's birds stay for the winter. Enjoy the ones that are hardy enough to stay.

Snow Angels, Snowmen and Snow Forts These are all fun things to build and enjoy. A snow creation constructed in December can easily last until spring. Dress your snowman up to match the seasons and holidays. Food colouring can be added to snow to create colourful streaks as you roll or take a spray bottle with water and food colouring and mist your creation for a colourful touch. (These iced creations last much longer). Creature a snow zoo that you add to all winter long.

Blow bubbles They won't pop when it's -40°C. (Something positive to think about when the weather gets cold).

Make an edible glacier. Glaciers are created in nature when more snow falls in a year than melts, the snow compacts and forms ice sheets (which are icy blue in colour). You can quickly create your own starting with a package of blue gelatine. Follow the package directions and pour into a pan and refrigerate until solid. Crush chocolate wafers or cookies on top (to symbolize rocks and boulders picked up by the ice sheet) and then top with whip cream and icing sugar (to snow the newest snowfall).

Try snowy tug-of-war, football or baseball! Spray bottles with water and food-colouring mixed are great ways to mark off boundaries, goals and bases.

Hot Dogs, S'mores and Hot Chocolate Outdoors This needs no explanation!


Postcard perfect scenery and a variety of trails can also keep you busy during the snowy months. Whether you walk, ski or sled, your winter adventure should be as safe and pleasurable as possible. Please take a moment to look at the tips below.

General Winter Tips:

Winter is great time to get outdoors, but the cold season comes with different challenges than summer pastimes.

Maintain all equipment and always check equipment before leaving.

Let a responsible person know where you are going, when you are leaving and when you expect to return.

When estimating time for a trip, make an allowance for the slowest member of the group to set the pace for the others. Pick trails that match your group's ability.

Make sure the group stays together. Verify by making frequent headcounts.

Dress appropriately for the weather. Be prepared for sudden changes in temperature and weather. Be aware of weather warnings, and remember to include the wind-chill when planning your trip.

Always go out in pairs or groups.

Carry out all garbage.

Pick up an appropriate winter activities map for the area you are planning to visit. Read it before your leave and carry it with you. Even if you are using trails close to home, please carry a map with you. This can help you orient yourself in bad weather.

Winter Emergency Kit:

The inexpensive items listed below will fit into an old coffee can (or similar container) to make a compact and lightweight safety kit. You may want to consider having a separate kit for the car, cottage, and outdoor excursions. Check out the sections below for additional items you should add for skiing and sledding.

Waterproof Matches


Pocket Knife

Aluminium Foil (1 metre x 1 metre); good for cooking and insulation.

Sugar Cubes

Heavy Duty Plastic Bags (Two)

Compact Folding Saw


Water Proof Tape; good for first aid, patching and binding.

Flagging Tape (Pink or Orange)

Nylon Cord (9 metres)

Wire (1 metre)

Instant Soup or Tea

High Energy Food; chocolate or dried fruit

Compass; make sure you know how to use it.

Insulated Safety Blanket

Extra Socks and Mittens

Flashlight and Batteries; check periodically to ensure the batteries still work.



250 kilometres of groomed trails lets you plan an afternoon outing or an all day trip.

Be aware of important locations (shelters, Rescue Sleighs and gas stations).

Consider purchasing a buoyant suit with reflective trim.

Carry extra clothing, socks, boot liners and mitts.

Don't drink and drive

If you plan on crossing water, carry a small kit on your person in case you go through the ice. This small kit should be able to fit into a pocket in a watertight container. Include a lighter, waterproof matches, magnesium fire starter, pocketknife, compass and whistle. Ice Picks and rope are also recommended when travelling on frozen waterways.

slow down for reduced visibility (including at night), regulated speed limits, caution areas and deteriorating sledding conditions

Always wear your helmet.

Keep to the right side of trails.

Watch for grooming equipment on the trail at all times .

Ride single file.

Follow trail markers. Trail locations may have to be relocated due to conditions and potential hazards.

Add to your basic emergency kit: spark plug, spare belt, manufacture's tool kit, towrope, pry bar, duct tape, and extra ignition key.


Cross-country Skiing

Cross-country ski trails in the Park range in length and ability allowing you to pick one that suits your group's ability and interest.

Take note of shelter locations along your planned route.

Bring along a variety of waxes and a scraper for changing snow conditions.

Add to your basic emergency kit: cord, pliers, screwdriver, and emergency ski tip.


Whatever you choose to do, it is important to stay on designated trails. Trails have been developed to allow recreational opportunities while protecting the natural environment. By staying on designated trails you can reduce risk to yourself, your equipment and help protect the beauty of our natural areas.


Check out www.manitobaparks.com for current cross-country ski and snowmobile trail conditions throughout the winter in the Whiteshell and other parks across Manitoba.


With all this talk of seasons, I would like to take a minute to ask anyone who no longer has a use for the following seasonal items to consider donating it to the interpretive program. We can always use items like old Halloween costumes (wings, jackets, wigs, animal bodies, magical creatures, pirates, cowboys, witches and anything else you may have), old plastic Christmas trees, carpet squares, old mounts, nature based books or nature based puzzles.


The Alfred Hole Goose Sanctuary Visitor Centre is closed for the winter season but if you are looking to take a hike please remember that the grounds are always open. You can also cross-country ski the trail that winds east around the pond.


We are taking school and group tours bookings for the spring session (April, May and June) by contacting me at 369-5246 or by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

I would also appreciating hearing from anyone who would like to comment on our programming, suggest programs or display ideas or have general nature inquiries.


The Alfred Hole Goose Sanctuary Visitor Centre will re-open for May Long Weekend in 2008. Check out the Manitoba Parks website at www.manitobaparks.com for maps, winter conditions and things to do during snowy months.


Submitted by:

Morgan Hallett

Senior Park Interpreter

Alfred Hole Goose Sanctuary &

Rennie District, Whiteshell Provincial Park