Someone asked about winter camping today. People don’t often think of camping in the winter, but the conversation reminded me that the best time to try it is around the beginning of March. Days are getting longer, nights are less cold. Check the weather forecast. If it looks like it won’t get too cold – or too warm – head out for an overnight trip. Anywhere in the range of -15°C ( -5°F) to about freezing is good. Sitting around a campfire watching stars doesn’t begin to feel like a chore at those temperatures. You can sleep in that kind of cold with a couple of heavy summer-weight sleeping bags tucked into one another. When it goes above freezing, it’s too easy to get wet — and then you really do get cold. If you have worries about trying it for the first time, you can always plan to stay close to a warm car and a short drive to a warm hotel. Waskesiu Lake in Prince Albert National Park makes an ideal destination for that.
Anyway, today got me thinking about some of my past trips and, in particular, a trip I did with a friend a few years ago, following a conversation with the editor of the member magazine of CAA Saskatchewan. The editor found the the whole idea of winter camping intriguing. Next thing you know, I’m traipsing off into the wilderness (sort of — we weren’t far from the road) to pitch a tent and write about the experience. The story and photos, published in the Winter 2010 edition of Westworld Saskatchewan, got nominated for a Saskatchewan Gold award in the 2011 Western Magazine Awards.
The story is hard to find online, so I’ve reproduced it below.
As long as I remember, these towering sentinels have stood watch over the town. At bedtime, I would gaze into the darkness to find reassurance in those patient silhouettes. Beneath them, the industry that gave the town its life and its livelihood banged and thumped and hummed hypnotically. Embraced in that lullaby, secure in the shadows of those dark sentinels, I could drift off to sleep.
It’s funny how the things we grew up with, become the familiar. The rhythms we were born into stay with us all our lives. Continue reading →
Broadway Bridge and downtown Saskatoon, first heavy snowfall of the winter, November 22, 2014 (Darrell Noakes)
The warnings started on Friday: Heavy snowfall, 10 – 15 cm of snow expected. After Friday’s freezing rain warnings, it would be best to listen to what Environment Canada had to say.
Snow started falling Saturday morning. Throughout the afternoon, periodically glancing at the weather radar consistently showed a large green blob, with Saskatoon dead in the centre. Well, at least it was a green blob, denoting only the lightest snowfall throughout the region. Outside the living room window, large flakes were drifting lazily toward the ground, occasionally whipped into a frenzy by gusts of strong wind. Continue reading →
It’s supposed to be the first day of spring today. Instead, it looks like winter is coming back for another blast.
After a sunny morning, it’s turned cloudy. The forecast calls for snow and blowing snow, northeast winds 30 km/hr gusting to 50, a low of minus 20 degrees Celsius tonight and a wind chill of minus 28. We’re not expected to see daytime temperatures go above freezing until well into next week, nor overnight lows above freezing until sometime in April. The past two weeks were so nice, too, in contrast with the minus 30 lows that ushered in the month.
I thought that if March came in like a lion, it was supposed to go out like a lamb! Continue reading →
Hemingway famously spent a lot of time at La Bodeguita Del Medio Empedrado, a popular restaurant-bar in Havana, Cuba. (Darrell Noakes)
At Saskatoon’s latitude, February 15 is the date when the sun reaches above the horizon high enough to chase away my winter blues. Every year, it’s like someone waves a magic wand over the landscape. That’s the date when you can really feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Before that, from the beginning of November, the sun shines a cold, blue light — bright enough to need sunglasses, to be sure, but lacking in warmth and colour. Each year, I look forward to February 15 the way a kid looks forward to the day after the last day of school.
Winter can be a lovely time of year. I love the way freshly fallen snow sparkles under a full moon. I love the bright, clear night skies with so many brilliant stars. Looking out on a winter landscape is like living in a sentimental Christmas card. But I hate what the darkness of the long night does to me. Continue reading →
Randy Glover posted on his Lost Kootenays blog an old photo of children sleighing on Goepel Street in Trail, BC, in 1947. You don’t see that so much these days.
Well, here’s a modern update. It’s minus 16 degrees Celsius in Saskatoon today, and there are kids playing in the street.
Our Saskatoon neighbourhood has changed a lot over the years. Maybe it’s now come full circle. Given the age of this subdivision, I bet that at about the time when we were growing up and playing in the streets of Trail, there were kids here doing the same. Continue reading →