Tag Archives: open

Spruce Woods Park Today

Reid Dickie

I am such a lucky man! I had my seventh hike so far this summer on Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Park today. After a cool rainy week, the weather is warming. No wind, a few popcorn clouds and an upbeat attitude made it a perfect day for a hike.  The hoary puccoon – it’s just fun to say, go ahead, say it out loud – and three-flowered aven are still  blooming wildly everywhere, tiny violets wave trailside and the poison ivy is having a great year. I loll at the special place Linda and I have on the dunes. Back at the parking lot two and a half hours later I’m a little sunburned but happy and calm.

This is a shot of the kiosk at the trailhead with The Sentinel in the distance.

At Marsh Lake I pitch my camp chair between the four red maples located at the picnic shelter. All four trees are in full delicious bloom as witnessed by the bees and butterflies swarming the trees. The air is abuzz with happy insects and redolent with the precious scent of the maple blossoms. In the fall these maples turn blazing red. I saw my first red-tailed hawk of the summer in the park today

It appears Spruce Woods Park will have its amenities mostly prepared for the full tourist season in July and August. Other than the lower campground, most of the park will be in operation. Access to the campground and day use area is much easier now off Hwy #5. Crews are working on further repairs to the washed-out sections of the highway through the park.

I’ll be back to Spirit Sands later this week and again next week when I’m booked in at the yurts. Check for wood ticks. Happy hiking!

Leave a comment

Filed under Linda, Manitoba Heritage, Natural Places, Spirit

Spruce Woods Park Rebounds, Open This Weekend

Reid Dickie

In this post a year ago the flooding Assiniboine River had a destructive hold on Spruce Woods Park. Hwy #5 was washed away through the park, campgrounds and buildings were covered with eight feet of water and the summer looked bleak.

Today I had my fourth hike to the Spirit Sands in the last two weeks and have great news to report. As I arrived today, a work crew was taking down the detour sign to the upper campground. That was exciting and promising! The low road to the campground, the one that had about two hundred yards of it washed away by the surging waters last year at this time, has been rebuilt with tons of fill and finished with gravel for now. The badly-damaged lower campground is still off-limits but the park staff are to be commended for their efforts to rejuvenate the rest of the park.

Most of the debris strewn helter skelter about the park by the river has been cleared away, signage has been restored, trails opened, the river-broken trees have been cleaned up and guaranteed there will be no shortage of firewood this summer in the park.

It was evident today that the day use area with beach, Pine Fort, picnic and displays will be open for the long weekend. They have resanded the beach on the oxbow. See how murky the water is before you swim in it. Use caution. Remember the swimming area is largely river water washed in last year containing everything it picked up along the way and it has sat stagnant.

There are plenty of things to do in the park. The trail system, including Spirit Sands, Punchbowl, Marsh Lake, Epinette Creek etc are all open. The covered wagon rides to the dunes and punchbowl are back this year but I’m not sure if they will be available for the long weekend. The upper campground is virtually sold out for the weekend, the yurts are booked solid all weekend.

I was heartened to see many western painted turtles sunning themselves on downed trees today along the edge of Marsh Lake. The turtles were disturbed by the sudden flood but have bounced back, even though the waters of Marsh Lake are still cloudy with mud. The floating bridge at the apex of Marsh Lake Trail has been replaced though the little island it accesses was devastated by the flood leaving mostly broken trees. Painted turtles can also be seen around the punchbowl.

Go for a hike. There are several different terrains and habitats to choose from. The trail on the way to Spirit Sands offers some lovely blossoms these days. The bearberry is turning from red to glossy green. Hoary puccoon (above) speckle the grass with its bright deep yellow flowers. Three-flowered aven (right), their hairy heads drooping sadly, add touches of mauve and rust to the speckle. I saw all kinds of butterflies on my hike today and the air was alive with the buzz of insects and sweet tweets from the trees. Abundant as ever in the shady areas and along the stairs is poison ivy. Barefoot hikers take heed.  The other danger is wood ticks and I recommend a thorough tick check of your whole body after a hike.

The weekend will be hot and hotter on the dunes by up to 10 degrees. Carry water, wear a hat and don’t wear stupid shoes. Maybe the cool evening suits you better. Take a sunset hike and hear a choir of coyotes echoing over the dunes as you watch the sand redden into black and the fireflies sparkle around you.

Remember: no more free parks this year. The three-year moratorium on park fees is over. Buy an annual pass for $30, save a lot of time and cash and relax. Canadian Tire and fishing/hunting stores sell the passes.

When you see the park staff, let them know they’ve done a great job getting Spruce Woods back on its feet so quickly. I look forward to my next twelve visits to it this summer.

Watch my video of a hike I took to Spirit Sands last year. Check out more Manitoba day trips on my Day Tripper page at the top. Have a wonderful weekend. Every mile a safe mile.

5 Comments

Filed under Birds, Day Tripping, Earth Phenomena, Flood, Natural Places, Sacred Places, spirit sands

Yurt #4 Spruce Woods Park

I’m just back from a couple of days yurting at Spruce Woods Park. Hot, hot weather – my kind of summer – and cool nights made for a pleasant and relaxing stay. Few neighbours, no sirens and a friendly firepit added to the enjoyment. As well, I hiked the nearby Spirit Sands several times. Watch my video of the accommodations at Yurt #4.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjaaUzSj4bI&feature=player_profilepage

Leave a comment

Filed under Accommodations, Linda, Natural Places, Parks, spirit sands

First Spirit Sands Hike of the Summer

Reid Dickie

Yesterday I found out the access road to the Spirit Sands had been rebuilt and opened so I immediately planned a day trip out. Today was the perfect day! About 21 degrees Celsius, constant breeze and an amazing cloudscape. I arrived about 11:30, two other cars in the parking lot. The trail was warmly familiar and I was relieved and quickened to be back there. The Sentinel gave gracious consent to proceed and I enjoyed every step of the trail. Because of the extra moisture and no one to trample the growth, the dunes are heavily overgrown this summer. Lots of grasses and yellow flowers in bloom, the bearberry fruit are bright red against the waxy green leaves and the juniper berries are turning colour. The vistas are still breath-taking, the sand sensual as ever under bare feet and Spirit abides in every grain. I took plenty of video of my hike and the dunes but for now here is a series of pictures from today’s hike.

The last picture is of trees the Assiniboine River uprooted and slammed against the bridge, now piled next to the highway. The pile is 20 feet high! The park will have plenty of firewood for the next five years.

Leave a comment

Filed under Day Tripping, Linda, Natural Places, Sacred Places, spirit sands

Spirit Sands Open!

Reid Dickie

Great news!

I just talked with Manitoba Conservation in Carberry and the access road to the trailhead and parking lot for Spirit Sands has been rebuilt and is open as of today. The hiking trails have been checked and are safe and hikable. Highway #5 through the park is now open from Glenboro to Carberry. See you out there!

Leave a comment

Filed under Day Tripping, Earth Phenomena, Linda, Natural Places, Sacred Places

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Day Tripping, Earth Phenomena, Flood, Natural Places, Sacred Places, Spirit, spirit sands