Tag Archives: marsh lake

Spirit Sands Hike October 24

Reid Dickie

Another warm sunny day with temperature climbing to 12 C. This required one more hike on Spirit Sands. Couldn’t have been more perfect out there today. I was the only one on the Sands when I arrived with just one other car in the parking lot when I returned from the hike. I like that density: one person or less per square mile. Now that the chatty aspens and poplars have lost all their leaves, the silence is enormous! The occasional caw of a crow and the soft sigh of the breeze through tall brown grass were the only sounds to disturb the stillness of the serene landscape. I start the pictures with two shots of the bare poplars and aspens ghostly white against rich evergreens. Click on pics to enlarge


The next two shots are from the top of the dune overlooking an area of open prairie. In the second picture the round “mounds” are, in fact, juniper bushes that grow in circular shapes low to the ground. By this time of year they have turned a chocolately brown and stand out in the landscape.

The juniper berries have turned bright blue and the bearberry has gone from glossy Christmas green into a tawny red as you can see in the first picture. Ditches in the park still hold some water and in the final picture sunshine twinkles off Marsh Lake.

Leave a comment

Filed under Day Tripping, Linda, Love, Natural Places, Parks, spirit sands

Two Days Out On the Prairie

Reid Dickie

Hot and windy, the temperature hit 30 degrees today (about 86 F.), amazing for early October. Something similar for the next two days before seasonal temperatures prevail. The warm weather stoked my wanderlust and I headed into southwestern Manitoba on Tuesday, doing a couple of video reports and gathering images for a large video project I’m working on.  This red maple at Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Park was in full blaze.

I stopped by Campbell Lisk Heritage Park below Hwy 10 next to the Souris River. The first picture is the flooded park taken in June and the second one I took yesterday.

The little park, at flood peak, had over seven feet of water in it from the Souris River. Now the water is gone, the flood cake has dried out and turned into a fine grey powder that sails on every gust of wind. The vegetation has started to return; the spruce trees suffered and each is surrounded by a circle of brown dead needles, waterkill from the flooding. The other difference in the two pictures is how everything has dried out. The recent shot shows how arid we are now after a hot virtually rainless summer.

I took a hike halfway around Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Park today to survey the hiking trail. The flood cake from the flooding Assiniboine extends well back from the lake, in some places over fifty feet. The grey floodcake is dried out but several plants have asserted themselves quickly, notably grassy sedges and horsetail along the wettest parts. Further back and in the shade poison ivy, now scarlet and quite evident, flourished in the grey dry soil. Though the day was hot and sunny, I didn’t see any turtles sunning along Marsh Lake. The flood changed the ecology of the lake so it will take time to restore it or evolve into a new habitat. The turtles know what to do.

I haunted some cemeteries on my drive and have some interesting epitaphs to report. In the little cemetery just outside of Margaret, MB I found these three, the first rather common but profound: Sleeping in Jesus, the comforting Under His Wings and, chiselled into an old old stone, Nevertheless he lives. In my hometown cemetery, I found the most effervescent one of the trip: She has joined the dance, the sprightly dance, the dance ever-existing.

By the way, everything is up-to-date in Treherne, MB. Besides having buildings made of bottles, nice people and a pretty location, Treherne has the Birch Motel which is all mod cons as you can see! Waterbeds and direct dial phones…a little slice of heaven on Hwy 2.

Ghost towns are appearing more frequently now. The siding of Kelloe and fading village of Solsgirth are no longer acknowledged with signs along Hwy 16. Kelloe consists of a family home with modern kids stuff in the yard and a few tumbledown houses in the bush. Solsgirth appeared to have two houses being lived in. The entire population of McConnell when I went through it this morning was two horses. Although the school, church and an old house or two survive, no people live there. Instead the people erected a cairn to signify where McConnell is/was. Apparently you can’t rely on the memories of horses for this kind of thing. Cardale was pert and mowed, the few souls it supports keep busy and wave at me. Margaret has 9 people and 30 boxes in its post office, mostly farmers. I mention to the postmistress (how quaint does that sound?) that my parents lived in Margaret when I was born and so did I until we moved to Hayfield four years later. She remembered hearing our family name in the district.

I’ll end with two pictures of a delightful old weather-depainted Queen Anne style house I gaped at in Newdale today. The lovely gables with elaborate carved bargeboards and the over window and door detailing make this almost ghostly pile extra special. I wonder if it glows in the dark? It has a little satellite dish!

Leave a comment

Filed under Day Tripping, Flood, Ghost Towns, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage, Prairie People, Roadside Attractions

Acorn Days

Reid Dickie

These are the acorn days of summer! The spring was wet and unpredictable, the summer hot and dry, which is the recipe for great acorns as the red squirrel that chastised me this morning at Marsh Lake for tossing a few acorns into the lake emphasized. Sitting under some old oaks, every breeze sent a few more acorns plopping into the grass. At the Cartwright Buffalo Jump on Thursday I sat under another old oak that did the same thing, occasionally dropping one on my head to keep me in the present moment. It’s been hot all week, around 30 degrees Celcius (about 85 degree F) every day, the heat’s last blast for this summer. It was a great time to travel so I covered about 800 kms of south-western Manitoba prairie in three days, visiting some new sites, shooting more video, working on several projects at once and hopefully getting some of them right! I’ll have several reports about the past few days in words and images on this blog soon.

As I sat at Marsh Lake this morning with smoke from my little fire drifting into shafts of morning sunlight filtered through oak branches, I said to myself: ‘I am doing exactly what I want to be doing at this moment. What an incredibly lucky man I am!’ I thanked Spirit for the moment and the awareness of the moment. This is a familiar occurrence as I can always find ways to be grateful, a search that becomes easier with practise.

The cool flush of change ranges in the summer prairie air tonight. The wings of geese, the chilly wind that makes my nipples stand up and my skin feel like cold paper, grandmother Nokomis rises waxing from her secret nest and Spirit waits, tapping its foot impatiently at Spirit Sands for us to return. We have returned! Time and again, alone and with friends, each visit has rejuvenated me, spurred me to dwell peacefully within myself.

Leave a comment

Filed under Day Tripping, Natural Places, spirit sands

Best Outdoor Sex EVER – Three Videos from Marsh Lake

Reid Dickie

This is a shot from the summer of 2010 of painted turtles sunning on a fallen log at Marsh Lake. The lake looks much different this year.

Here are three short video reports from my recent travels to Spruce Woods Park.

Flood Damage

 Marsh Lake is an oxbow of the Assiniboine River and offers a pleasant picnic spot and easy hike although the trail is closed since the lake was severely flooded by the river this spring. The first video (2:33) shows the once-verdant picnic area next to Marsh Lake and the grey flood cake that covers it now.


Red Maple

Red maples are rare in Manitoba, their usual habitat is in the eastern U.S. Several of the trees grow at Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Park. They appear to be in full bloom but that’s not the case. Watch my short video report (00:37) on what’s going on anyway with those red maples.


Best Outdoor Sex EVER

I’m always curious what people write in the guest books at various places in my travels. Recently, at Marsh Lake, a couple of couples seemed to have excelled at one of the endless opportunities that our provincial parks offer – great outdoor sex! Watch my short video report (00:42).


Leave a comment

Filed under Day Tripping, Flood, Natural Places, Parks, Prairie People, Roadside Attractions

Pictures of Spruce Woods Park Flooding

Reid Dickie

These are from July 14 to 16, 2011. This is the low road to the campground, flooded with washouts.

Access along the low road flooded out.

Here in the bottom of the valley the Assiniboine River is almost two miles wide.

Super sandbags couldn’t hold back the mighty Assiniboine.

At a bend in the river, the low road is completely gone.

This is the temporary park office set up to handle the sparse customers for the yurts and high campground.

These are shots of Hwy 5 on the north side of the park. Boulders and gravel piled down the middle of the highway above Marsh Lake.

Destruction caused by the surging river water.

At the entrance to Marsh Lake, the highway lies in ruins. Just past the bend on the right in the distance was where the entrance to Spirit Sands used to be. The road is gone now.

Marsh Lake – overgrown and reverting back to the wild.

Leave a comment

Filed under Day Tripping, Flood, Local History, Natural Places, Parks, Sacred Places, Spirit, spirit sands

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Accommodations, Flood, Local History, Natural Places, Parks, Prairie People, spirit sands

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ancient Wisdom, BEAUTY, Carberry, Family, Flood, Linda, Natural Places, Parks, Sacred Places, Spirit, spirit sands

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Accommodations, Flood, Natural Places, Parks, Sacred Places

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!


Filed under Flood, Local History, Natural Places, Parks, Prairie People

Marsh Lake

         This idyllic place is at Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Provincial Park. The lake is actually an oxbow of the Assiniboine River. Horseshoe-shaped, it was created when erosion changed the river’s course, isolating a bend in the river. The water is fresh and abundant with life. Painted turtles catch some rays on fallen logs, deer, raccoon, rabbits, coyotes and the occasional elk call it home. I have seen cormorants, pelicans, swans, cranes, geese and ducks on the water. Around the water’s edge there is a self-guiding hike through the forest that’s one leisurely kilometer long. At the apex of the hike, there is a tiny island accessible by a floating walkway. The island’s park bench offers a grand view of the red sands, green spruce and blue water.  Adjacent to Highway #5, Marsh Lake has picnic facilities, primitive restrooms and huge mature cottonwoods that sing the happiest songs on hot summer days. Linda and I stopped here many times, to hike, sit by the water, be free.


Top: the blue waters of Marsh Lake. Hwy #5 along the left.

 Centre: painted turtles sunning themselves on a log.

 Bottom: the view from bench on the island at the tip of the oxbow.

1 Comment

Filed under Parks, PRAIRIES, Roadside Attractions