we would have a better experience tracking as it’s easy to see the fresh prints.” We easily spotted off the hop a herd of elk, commonly seen residents of Waskesiu. One in particular who was nipping buds off a balsam poplar posed for numerous photographs. Next was one of my favourite animals to see in the wild, a fox. It was nestled up, face in his tail on the side of the road. We exited the vehicle and watched him scoot into the forest. He was much more camera shy. Then, we came across some exciting tracks, those of a river otter, followed up by two sets of wolf tracks a little farther down the road. Brad knew how badly I wanted to see a wolf. In fact, I think my first question out of my mouth when I contacted him was, “how likely is it we will see a wolf?” Wolf sightings are not super common, but in winter the chances are greater. Brad explained that there are several factors that increase the probability such as: freshly plowed roads, very little traffic, huge lakes (to walk across / and to spot them on) and a healthy population of wolves in the park. Unfortunately after following the tracks for some time, the wolves decided they wanted to hang in the forest and not come and meet me. I understood. After all, it was only a brief morning excursion and the expectation to come across these amazing predators was a bit high. I didn’t leave disappointed however as the fun really was in the hunt. Later in the day Brad introduced us to dogsledding. Dressed up like Michelin men (it was -20 something that afternoon), we climbed on a long sled while Brad mushed his team of pooches into the forest. Saying that it was fun is an understatement. It was an incredible experience and I seriously cannot wait until the next time. Plus, I really adored the dogs and how excited they were to mush. It was what they were born to do and they know it. The next day it was time to try another new activity. So, borrowing snowshoes from the Hawood Inn, I made it out to the lake across the street and was greeted by a family of deer who were lying down beneath the trees. When you are all alone and cannot see anyone outside for miles being surrounded by wildlife is an amazing feeling. I stayed far enough back not to frighten them, strapped on my new shoes and gave it a go. It was super easy and fun. After about 10 minutes of trekking atop fluffy snow along the covered beach, I was quite toasty. I figured out stay warm is easy; the key is simply layers and movement. I walked along the lakefront a little more and enjoyed the sunrise. Our last day in the park came so quickly and it included a visit to Elkridge Resort. The kind staff invited us to spend the day seeing as we couldn’t get a room there due to the fact they were booked solid. Once we arrived we completely understood why. Found nearby the official park entrance, Elkridge is a four-season, highend resort that features a good variety of park experiences along with creature comforts like a full service spa, fine dining and more. Golfers flock there in the summer and in the winter the offerings are impressive. They have an expansive skating rink which can be overlooked from the dining room of the resort’s restaurant. Besides renting skates, visitors can also be easily equipped with
snowshoes or cross country skies to take advantage of their groomed trails. I think it’s safe to say it’s also a snowmobiler’s paradise. Because I was travelling with young children we stuck to activities of their choosing that day: swimming and tubing down the toboggan run. It was a blast and probably the most fun the kids had during the whole trip. We even got grandma down the hill twice! I wouldn’t hesitate to return to the park and give Elkridge another go but I am going to have to plan ahead a bit as it seems it’s no secret just how awesome it is. And, if I am really on top of things, I am going to take advantage of the partnership between Elkridge Resort and Sundogs Excursions as they have a “Mush & Stay” package. Sounds dreamy doesn’t it? This experience opened my eyes to just how much fun can be had outside in winter. Whether it was reflecting during my time alone or playing in the snow with the kids, I truly adored finding winter again in Waskesiu.
About the writer: Jenn Smith Nelson is a freelance travel writer/blogger/photographer who is a sky lovin’, prairie wonderer at heart. With enthusiasm she seeks to explore, capture and promote the beauty of our province and share it with those who are curious to learn more. You can read more about her travel experiences and life in Saskatchewan at www.travellinlady.com.
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