Tag Archives: kiche manitou

Spruce Woods Park Today

Reid Dickie

Last Friday I took a drive out to Spruce Woods Park to see how the little park overwintered. Park workers have cleaned up most of the debris that cluttered the ditches. The plastic and metal grid dams that were washed away and strewn about the park have been removed. Some infill in wash-out areas, such as around the park sign and in ditches where water stood all last year, has been done. The huge pile of trees next to the bridge has been removed, likely providing the park with firewood for the next five years. The low road to the campground is still impassable and there remains plenty of evidence of the flood’s impact on the landscape. 

According to Manitoba Parks, the entire lower campground (bays 1 – 7) and all the campground buildings at Kiche Manitou in Spruce Woods were completely destroyed by the floodwaters. Currently the department is assessing damages and planning reconstruction, however, the lower campground will NOT be open for the 2012 season. The upper campground and yurts will still be available.

I stopped at the trailhead of Spirit Sands and took a few pictures. Though they never moved all last summer, the three covered wagons await their horses and a flood of tourists to carry out to the dunes. Other than the lower campground closure and most of the trail system needing repairs, the park will  operate more or less as usual this year. I’m looking forward to watching the natural changes the park will undergo this summer.

The status of several other provincial parks damaged by flooding last year remains uncertain. The department is reporting that availability of parks around Lake Manitoba inundated by high lake levels will vary. Since its campground and park infrastructure were completely destroyed, camping at St. Ambroise Park will not be offered this year. Also on the lake, Watchorn Park was damaged badly and assessments are currently underway, but it’s uncertain whether camping will be available this year. The campgrounds at Rainbow Beach and Manipogo Parks are now under repair with the intent that they’ll be open on May 11. Lundar Beach Park suffered extensive damage and, although repairs are underway, availability of camping this summer is uncertain. Slowly our parks will bounce back.

There have been changes this year in Manitoba Parks. Camping fees have increased slightly, between $1.05 and $3.15 depending on services offered. Park entry fees will be charged this year, ending three pleasant years of free park entry. Annual permits are just $30, amongst the lowest in Canada. Three-day passes are $8 and single day is $4. Permits are required after May 1 and can be purchased by mid-April at any Manitoba conservation office including campground offices, large stores like Canadian Tire and small stores that cater to fishers and hunters.

The Manitoba Provincial Parks Reservation System kicks into life tomorrow, April 2, 2012 at 7:30 a.m.  They should have the latest information on campground availability around the province. In Winnipeg call 948-3333, elsewhere toll-free 1-888-482-2267. Their website is manitobaparks.com

The mighty Assiniboine that caused havoc last year at this time is a much more peaceful river today as you can see. Here it’s rounding the bend at Spirit Sands trailhead. I’ll have many more reports on Spruce Woods Park and my other travels this summer on my blog. Stay tuned. Happy trails!

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Spruce Woods Park Update – August 12

Reid Dickie

Friday, August 12, 2011

Manitoba Hwy 5 is now open through Spruce Woods Park but there is limited access to park facilities and trails. When I drove through the newly-opened highway today I was horrified by the damage the little park suffered from the raging Assiniboine River. The shape and tenure of the park has been changed by the waters, the ongoing unknowable script of Nature writ new and large on a familiar landscape.

Marsh Lake access has been restored, the area mowed but the trail is flooded and closed; the picnic area is covered in grey flood goo. It feels under repair. The entrance to Spirit Sands trailhead is still washed out but there are piles of materials to rebuild the entrance and give access to the sacred place again…a miracle waiting to happen. The lower Kiche Manitou campground is still flooded and the access road is closed due to a major washout. The upper campground and yurt area is accessible by a detour route. I feel more hopeful for the park than I did on my last visit in mid July. It is very encouraging to see the highway is now open. I shot this video of the area today.

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Yurting at Spruce Woods Park

Reid Dickie 

Watch my 3:17 video tour of Yurt #4.

I spent Thursday and Friday of last week at Spruce Woods Park, staying in one of 13 yurts they rent out to not-quite-campers. It was a quiet stay. The park has been ravaged by the flooding Assiniboine River since break-up this spring and most of its amenities are inaccessible. There isn’t much to do except enjoy the outdoors and catch up on cloud watching.

Kiche Manitou campground is a shadow of its former self due to this year’s flooding. Only the upper campground and yurts are in use this summer with a makeshift camp office set up to process visitors. The lower campground has been under water for months. Just two other yurts were in use on Thursday and just five on Friday. It’s been a slow year, park staff told me. The detour map from the provincial parks website was easy to follow to the campground on good gravel roads. To cut down on noise, motorized vehicles are prohibited from getting close to the yurts. To haul your camping stuff from car to tent, the park provides good quality red metal wagons. Here’s a shot of my wagon.

Every yurt is electrified with a nice porch – mine faced northwest – fire pit, picnic table and chopping area.

The yurts sleep five and, although the days were very hot – both about 30 degrees C – the yurt has a domed ceiling that opens to allow hot air out. The place cooled quickly and adequately at dusk resulting in pleasant sleeps both nights.

I wasn’t completely alone for the two days. A little red squirrel adopted me and defended our territory against other squirrels, chipmunks and even a crow. I named it Tenacious. I think it was my constant supply of Spanish peanuts that ensured the critter’s loyalty. Here’s a shot of Tenacious.

Friday began with an intense thunderstorm at dawn. Heavy rains and a wild light show resulted but I stayed cozy and dry in the yurt. The rest of Friday was a perfect prairie summer day, hot and clearing. I caught up on my cloud watching and made this time-lapse video of the afternoon cloudscapes from my porch.

For the third year in a row, there is no entry fee for Manitoba provincial parks though camping fees still apply. In the case of the yurts, the charge is about $54 a night all in. Very economical for a family. If you are interested in a quiet getaway experience this summer, rent a yurt at Spruce Woods. Respite from the weary world, peaceful trees and easy accommodations await you. For information and bookings, the provincial parks website is http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/

Today in Winnipeg the temperature is 34 degrees C or 93 degrees F, add in 63% humidity and it feels like 48 degrees C or 118 degrees F. Thunderstorms are predicted. Our precious prairie summers!!

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Spruce Woods Park Flood – Video Update

Reid Dickie 

I just spent two days in Yurt #4 at Spruce Woods Provincial Park and brought back three video reports of the damage the little park sustained. It’s sad!

The main access road – Hwy #5 – is a broken highway with washouts fifteen feet deep and spanning hundreds of yards. The bridge over the Assiniboine held but serious washouts occurred on both sides of it. The prospects for doing anything other than camping or yurting at the park this year are dim. One park attendant told me there is a slim possibility Spirit Sands may be accessible before the year is out but I’m not counting on it, judging by the condition of the highway, access roads and the continuing high water levels. Although full moon night was clear and warm and would have been perfect for a midnight hike on the sands, alas I was only able to watch the moon rise and listen to the surging river from the porch of my yurt.

My first report shows the Assiniboine’s damaging effect on the park road which leads off Hwy #5 to the lower and upper campgrounds and yurt area. The road is washed out as you can see in this short video report.

The second report shows Hwy #5, closed and barricaded, and the some of the damage it sustained. This is a long shot looking from the south taken on a hot prairie morning. You can see the heat waves rising from the asphalt.

The third report shows in detail the extensive damage and washouts along Hwy #5 near Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Park.

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Spruce Woods Provincial Park Flood Update – June 24, 2011

Reid Dickie

There has been little change in the status of Spruce Woods Provincial Park since my last update. Most of the park’s amenities remain closed and inaccessible due to flooding, including Spirit Sands and Punchbowl, Ispuitinaw Trail, Marsh Lake, the lower area of Kiche Manitou Campground, concession stand and canoe campground.

The upper campground and yurts at Kiche Manitou Campground are open and accessible with the parks call centre taking reservations. Access to these campground sites is only via Hwy #2 from the south, but not the Trans Canada Highway. This map shows the detour. By the way, for the third year in a row, there is no entry fee to visit Manitoba’s provincial parks. They are free! Great deal! Camping fees still apply.

There’s not much to do this year at Spruce Woods but a few of the trails are open or partially open. Using Carberry and TCH access from the north, Epinette Creek is partially open, that is to cabin #2 and Juniper Loop but the trail is closed at start of Tamarack Loop. Arriving from the south, the Hogs Back Trail is open, Spring Ridge Trail is partially open with some flooded sections. This trail has been expanded. Warning signs are posted. The Trans Canada Trail east of upper campground is open, equestrian trails are open with some sections flooded and the main equestrian campground is open.

The prognosis for the park reopening is not good. Ominously, the Souris River joins the Assiniboine just upstream from Spruce Woods and, with the volume of water rolling down the Souris today, it is conceivable Highway #5 through the park will remain closed for the summer, and, depending on the extent of damage, possibly for the year. Though the bridge is still holding, there is massive wash-out of the highway on either side.

As one who hikes Spirit Sands at least a dozen times every summer, I’m having hiker withdrawal this year not being able to walk the land. Linda’s beautiful photographs of the sands in this post will have to do for now. The Assiniboine has probably inundated the low-lying Punchbowl but the sands themselves are at a much higher elevation and escape flooding. I’m imagining how pristine and pure the untrodden dunes must be, how delicately the rivulets of water have drawn their paths down the sloping trails and how the log ladders are buried from disuse.

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Kiche Manitou Campground Update, June 2, 2011

Reid Dickie

I just received the following email from Manitoba Parks regarding the status of the lower campground and infrastructure at Kiche Manitou Campground in Spruce Woods Provincial Park.

Dear Camping Customer:

The campground closure for Kiche Manitou Lower Campground in Spruce
Woods Provincial Park has been extended to include the remainder of the 2011
camping season. 

Buildings and infrastructure have been submerged by flood waters for
nearly two months.  Now in early June, water levels have still not fully
receded.  Clean-up and re-building is expected to be substantial.  The upper
level campground that includes nightly campsites, yurts and group use will
continue to be in operation.

Customers with existing reservations in the lower campground may
cancel or make changes on-line at manitobaparks.com or contact our call centre
directly at 1-888-482-2267 or in Winnipeg at 948-3333.  

We truly regret the inconvenience that these closures may mean to
your holiday plans, but feel it is our responsibility to let you know as soon as
possible so that you might make alternative arrangements.  If we can be of any
assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us through our call centre or at
945-4344.

We appreciate your patience; and, as always we look forward to seeing
you in one of our provincial parks in 2011! 

Yours truly,

Manitoba Parks

Highway access to Spruce Woods Provincial Park is still closed as Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure tries to keep ahead of road closures and repairs. It will be at least two more weeks before the highway reopens. Park attractions like Spirit Sands, Punchbowl and hiking trails all remain closed and off-limits due to flooding.

For the latest information, check Manitoba highway closures and conditions on an interactive map here.

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Spruce Woods Provincial Park Flooding – Tuesday, May 24

Reid Dickie

It appears my favourite provincial park won’t be hosting many visitors in the near future as the Assiniboine is having its way with the little place. According to Manitoba Highways, Highway #5, which passes through Spruce Woods Provincial Park and provides its major access route, is still closed between Carberry and Glenboro. Though the bridge is holding, the road north and south of it has been washed out. The department is hoping the bridge holds and will be safe for use after the river subsides. Regardless, the section of Hwy #5 through the valley will have to be resurfaced.

Manitoba Conservation in Carberry told me today there is currently very limited use of Spruce Woods Park with just the upper campground and the yurts accessible and available. Six of the thirteen yurts were in use over the long weekend. Access to upper campground and yurts is from Hwy #2 using Steel’s Ferry Road. See the map.

There isn’t much to do in the park because all but a short section of one trail, Spirit Sands, Punchbowl, Marsh Lake and lower campgrounds are closed due to flooding. The park office is still flooded with water almost to the eaves. Re-opening the park depends on when the water subsides, the amount of damage the flooding caused and how long it takes to complete repairs to roads, buildings and sites. Most of the park will be closed until July 28 when the situation will be reevaluated. Reservations are being taken for yurts and the upper campground at the provincial parks call centre: 1-888-482-2267 or 948-3333 in Winnipeg. Good luck.

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Spruce Woods Provincial Park Manitoba Flood Update – Friday May 13, 2011

Reid Dickie

The Assiniboine River runs through Spruce Woods Provincial Park and not only has its flooding closed the park indefinitely, Highway #5 which runs through the park is closed between Glenboro and Carberry. Water is over the road and some of the highway is washed out. The lower areas of the Spirit Sands and Marsh Lake are water covered and there is more on the way.

The lower campground at Kiche Manitou campground in Spruce Woods Park is under several feet of water and all buildings have been severely damaged. Yurts are on high ground and unaffected by flooding. Manitoba Conservation is hoping to re-open the park to camping in the lower campground by the end of July! That’s right, the end of July! Some aspects of the park are expected to open in mid-June but there is an enormous amount of water to move first. Many provincial parks are affected by flooding. Check here for updates on campground closures and delayed openings.

In Brandon, the dikes are under heavy maintenance, another foot is being added to most of the dikes as water flows are expected to increase. Saskatchewan has had heavy rains and the Qu’Appelle River, which drains into the Assiniboine at St. Lazare, MB, is swollen. Everything downstream from there is under flood watch. The final stores have closed in the Corral Centre and Paddock. The last evacuees are expected to be gone by this evening and the city waits. The crest, once thought imminent, is now predicted for the middle of next week. The Saskatchewan rains and subsequent surges are making crest predictions extremely difficult. One certainty from Manitoba Water Stewardship is to expect higher than predicted crest levels along the Assiniboine. This announcement resulted in the new endeavours to raise Brandon`s dikes by at least a foot.

At Portage the military is working to raise the Portage Diversion to move more river water into Lake Manitoba to the north. Tonight there is more water in the Portage Diversion than in the Red River Floodway around Winnipeg! The Trans Canada Highway remains open today through Grand Valley west of Brandon where the ditches are being re-enforced with stones. Structurally the two bridges that span the river at Grand Valley are sound and uncompromised by the rising river.

The proposed “controlled” breach at Hoop and Holler Bend has been delayed again, now scheduled for early Saturday. There are 122 provincial roads affected by flooding, 73 closed. There are approximately 750 municipal roads closed. Though Brandon is predicted to get a little wet snow tonight, the forecast for the Assiniboine region including its headwaters in Saskatchewan is for clear sunny days ahead with no precipitation for a week. That would help immensely!

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Yurt Update

          In a previous post I reported on reserving yurts at Spruce Woods Provincial Park for the full moons May through August. My plan is to do moonlight hikes on the Spirit Sands on every full moon of the summer. Ah, the best laid plans…

           Yesterday I received a call from the provincial parks call centre saying that Kichi Manitou campground where the yurts are would be closed due to flooding until June 17, the day after my second reservation. Damn!

       The Assiniboine River runs through the park and it is expected to create substantial flooding along much of its course after the spring thaw, which is now underway. Although the yurts are on an elevated section of the campground well away from flooding, the entrance and camping area will likely be underwater. Contrite and mostly professional, the provincial parks guy refunded my money after suggesting alternative dates. Unfortunately, he couldn’t reschedule the full moon.

         The Assiniboine flows through Brandon before it reaches Spruce Woods Park. In recent years, the flat land in the valley in Brandon have been “developed” into a dreadful third mall from the sun big boxorama. There is much concern the whole thing might be swept away should the thaw come too quickly. Additionally, at least one Brandon golf course will be flooded, a dire event many are interpreting as a sure sign of the Endtimes.

      Sorry, folks. Not the Endtimes. Just our usual hubris, the obvious result of following through on a half-bright notion, like building anything on a floodplain. The same notion applied to the same floodplain created the same hubris when the site for Winnipeg was chosen. Every spring Winnipeggers heave a sigh of relief and doff to Duff (Roblin) for his vision to build the floodway that keeps the city safe from flooding. By the way, when Duff  broached the idea of the floodway, people thought he had gone insane.

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