Author, Bill Morse, Historian

Vol 26 Winter 2020

‘Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?’

  • Frida Kahlo

We’ll look at a few events from winters past, from the archives of Solar Outdoors, and invite you to some upcoming activities.

February  2008:  Fun in the Snow, Quebec

Four guys left metro Detroit on an early morning, crossed the border to Windsor, and there met trip leader Joanne Sarrasin for a day-long drive to Quebec City. Another participant, Carolyn Francis, flew in from Traverse City and met the others in Quebec for a week of outdoor amusement.

The group played tourist the next day, enjoying the Quebec Carnaval and walking through old Quebec City. Then they headed to St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, where they stayed at a house near Mont Ste. Anne ski resort. A main activity, naturally, was cross-country skiing. Joanne described a typical day on the trails: ‘The scenery was magical with the trees laden with fresh snow and clear blue skies. The air was crisp but we were well-protected from the wind.’

 

Mont Ste. Anne is Canada’s largest cross-country ski center, and its trails include uphill climbs and long descents. A memorable encounter: ‘On one of our outings, we quickly discovered that the deep skiing tracks freshly set by the grooming machine had been partially obliterated by large animal tracks. Whatever it was, it wasn’t a deer. The tracks were much too big. After much speculation, we eventually came upon our answer. A moose was parked right in the middle of the trail.’

The skiing was exhilarating and challenging, but Joanna wanted to do more: ‘I was keen on exploring some snowshoeing trails a few miles away at Sentiers des Caps. On our last day, (we) left early and snow shoed the trail to the Cap Brule look out. That was a workout! And (the indomitable) Don Wold did it without his snowshoes! One of his straps broke early on and he decided to keep going anyway. Did I mention how cold it was that day? You know when your nose hairs tingle? It was that cold! The lookout over the St. Lawrence River (photo right) provided the reward we deserved. Although we were only about 40 miles north of Quebec City, the river is at least three or four times wider at this point.’

That evening the group went to Quebec City for the Winter Carnaval parade, followed by a wonderful dinner at a restaurant. ‘Many opted to try “fondue chinoise” for their main meal and we were treated to some great red wine by Bill Lynch. Bill Morse and Mike Crossman made sure there was no chocolate left of the chocolate fondue! It was a great way to end our week together.’

February 2006 Yellowstone in Winter

‘Where can you find snow and steam? Feasting and scarcity? Howling and silence? The answer is Yellowstone National Park in February.’ Mary Dunn posed these questions. Pete Lamb organized a trip to one of winter’s finest locales. Joann Gadbaw, Ted Kosik, Chuck Svalya, Eric Gardner, Cindy Taylor, Carolyn Francis, and Brian Nordhaus accompanied Pete and Mary.

The group stayed in a ‘five star yurt camp’, with each yurt sleeping two. They enjoyed heated showers and a sauna. Two larger yurts were used each day to prepare hearty breakfasts and delicious dinners.

‘The wonderful meals were a contrast to the scarcity of food for Yellowstone’s year-round residents. Bison, coyotes, and wolves search for food to get through the long winter. It was amazing to see these creatures in their natural setting. Bison sometimes surprised us along the ski trails.’

‘Affable and patient guides broke trail across meadows and through forests of pine, spruce, and fir. Skiing at 7000-9000 feet presented a challenge for us flat-landers. But, what rewards! We visited back-country thermal areas, viewed the canyon and waterfalls of the Yellowstone River, and enjoyed vistas of meandering creeks and mountain ridges. A dream come true!’

By the Light of the Moon

Pete Lamb, from February 2006:

‘Camping under a full moon can be a magical experience. In the winter it lights up the woods for cross-country skiing at night. I remember a night in Batchawana Bay on a Wabos Loppet (Ontario) weekend when a group of us went out on Lake Superior ice on cross-country skis under a full moon. A full eclipse occurred and in the dark the comet Hail Bop went over our heads. Swimming or kayaking or camping in the mountains by the light of the moon in summer is something (everyone) should experience at least once. So, when you are planning a trip, knowing when a full moon will be occurring may be something you want to consider.’

Here is when full moons will appear, for the rest of 2020. Two of them are (sort of) on holidays…


Solar Outdoors…Our group was founded in 1976, for the enjoyment of nature and outdoor activities. We’ve been described as people who share ‘a common love of pristine lakes, breathtaking vistas, tranquil forests, scenic shorelines, and the experiences to be found there.’ Group members such as Joanne and Pete have organized trips to distant places, and we also offer events close to home.

Three such local events, which will be happening soon, are listed below. If you’re reading this, you’re invited. Please join us!


‘PRE-IDES OF MARCH’ DAY OF FUN AT PROUD LAKE

Come join the revelry on Saturday, March 7th, at Proud Lake Recreation Area.  The River Hawk Annex will be the place to be. Hike the trails during the day and in the evening. This date will be close to the full moon so evening hiking should be especially interesting. You can come inside the Annex to warm up. Bring your favorite card and board games. Bring food for an evening potluck. Invite a friend, kid friendly, a flashlight or head lamp is suggested for evening hiking. Admission: voluntary donations ($3 suggested), and a Recreation Passport, which can be bought at the park, is needed for your vehicle. We’ll start at noon and go into the evening. Come whenever you can! You may contact me, Bill Morse, if you have any questions about this (solarhistorian@solaroutdoors.org).

ISLAND LAKE STATE RECREATION AREA DAY HIKE

On Saturday, March 21st, 9-11 AM. Five-mile hike or snow shoe, depending on the weather. Meet at the Kent Lake parking lot.

MAYBURY STATE PARK DAY HIKE

On Saturday, April 18th, 9-11 AM. Three to four-mile hike or snow shoe, depending on the weather. Enter the park from the Eight Mile Rd entrance. Meet at Trailhead parking lot by turning right after entering the park.

You may contact Laura, the organizer, if any questions about the Island Lake or Maybury hikes (solarequipment@solaroutdoors.org). You will need a Recreation Passport for your vehicle, at each venue, and it can be purchased at either location.

Finally…

We’ve looked at winter events this time, but the season will be changing soon. We’ll be putting away the ice cleats and bringing out gear for warmer weather. Some of you are looking forward to your next backpacking journey. We’ll close with heartfelt words from 2008 that ring true today. Those who have been in Solar Outdoors a while, see if you can figure out, or guess, who these words are from. Don’t worry, the answer will be revealed. A hint:  This person has backpacked many times.

And it is…Michael Banks!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Past Tents…The next one will be coming (some time) soon!

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