Like most great stories, ours starts with 4 (almost) strangers meeting under somewhat unusual circumstances – although maybe not so much in this day and age. Last year, we asked our community to share their best winter shots on Instagram – the prize being an epic trip to the Whiteshell with Travel Manitoba. Enter winners Chris Pellerin (@craspybakon), Sierra Savannah Friesen (@sierrasavannahf), Nate Forest (@knatez) and Liz Tran (@liz.tran). Our adventure took the group of shutterbugs from Winnipeg to the Whiteshell to Whitemouth Provincial Park and back again – and just in case the memories fade, here were our favourite moments of this incredible winter trip…
The adventurous parts
Red River Mutual Trail
Outdoor activity was the name of the game on this little winter excursion, so it only made sense to start our adventure on Winnipeg’s iconic river trail. With cameras in tow, there were plenty of stops to admire and take photos of the scattered warming huts along the way, and plenty of opportunity to wipe out and almost take our lenses with us.
On the roster was a challenging activity not always associated with Manitoba: ice climbing. Bet you didn’t know that Winnipeg is one of the only cities in the world with an ice climbing tower in the center of it. With the help of the Club d’escalade de Saint-Boniface, we geared up with ice picks, boots and harnesses to take on the ice wall, which as it happens, is much taller than it looks in photos. Some of us (in other words, me) didn’t make it very far up the tower, while others in the group really did reach new heights and discovered a new sport/hobby.
Snowboarding and snowtubing
When we arrived in Falcon Trails Resort, we again got our adrenaline (or blood pressure, depending on who you ask) up with a day of snowboarding and snowtubing at Falcon Ridge Ski Slopes. For not being a province known for its elevations, you’d be surprised how much speed one gets when flying down the hills we do have. Enough to almost fly out of a tube, as it happens.
Top of the world
After collecting a good amount of bruises that come with downhill sports, we were all keen to take on an activity that didn’t require as much energy. Caleigh (co-owner of Falcon Trails Resort) led us on snowshoe trail to what must be one of the most spectacular views in Manitoba: the Top of the World Trail.
The cozy bits
Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature
Don’t worry, there weren’t any sad moments on the trip, just plenty of time to kick back and enjoy the serene silence of winter. Our first opportunity for “downtime” on the trip was at the ultimate relax-fest: Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature. It was a first for many to dine here, and the atmosphere mirrored many of the other aspects of the spa – quiet, and filled with warmth thanks to a gorgeous fireplace nearby. As if roaming around in a bathrobe in winter wasn’t crazy enough, we ordered s’mores to roast around the outdoor fire pit, enjoying a luxurious amount of different chocolate flavours.
Chocolate could only distract from chilly toes for so long. After getting our fill we finally made our rounds through the recommended hot-cold cycles, making sure to give adequate attention to each area of the spa. We hurried through the polar plunge, sank down into the steamy hot tubs and melted in the sauna. Let’s just say the ride home to our hotel rooms at the stylish Inn at the Forks was blissfully quiet.
Falcon Trails Resort
If you ever feel the urge to escape to a cabin in the winter, let it be to the lovely Falcon Trails Resort. Having checked into three lake-front cabins, the comfy interiors were a welcome home base for the portion of our trip that would be spent at the resort. We took full advantage of the delightfully cozy fire stove, gathering around it each night to play games (highly recommend What do you Meme), read stories from What People Do For Fun In The Woods and chat until retreating into our individual cabins for a full night’s rest.
The yummy stuff
What would a winter staycation in Manitoba be without a whole lot of comfort food? We were spoiled with food of all levels: from gourmet to good ol’ small town eats. Brunch at RAW:almond, was without a doubt, the source of one of our most devoured meals, with dishes that included pork belly bacon, latkes and donuts for dessert.
Smith at Inn at the Forks was a hit for not only its hip Canadiana decor, but also its generous portions and yummy breakfast offerings.
Falcon Trails Resort
Falcon Trails Resort served up classic ski lodge fare (think chicken fingers, burgers and wraps), with some unconventional yet welcome options like chickpea curry. The resort’s candlelit catered dinners were crafted by Chef Isaac, who we all came to adore with the help of dishes such as bacon wrapped meatloaf and potato dill salad.
On the way home, we discovered that many lunch options in the area were closed on Tuesdays – except one. Dunlop’s of Seven Sister Falls hits all the notes of a small town restaurant, with an attached bar, a pool table and a selection of VLTs. These spots tend to be the real hidden gems, and we were not disappointed.
The epic finale
Wild Harmony Canoe Adventures
Contrary to what the name might suggest, we did not go winter canoeing. Instead, we once again strapped on snowshoes to follow Adrian of Wild Harmony Canoe Adventures into Whitemouth Provincial Park, which conveniently is located straight out his backyard. We weren’t sure how different this area would be from Whiteshell Provincial Park, but were pleasantly surprised as Adrian led us to falls that peeked out from ice, up hills that offered views of the distant dam, and across barren and beautiful lakes.
The drive home was both lively and somber – that perfect mix of being ready to go home to our normal lives and reminiscing about the best moments of the trip. For these lucky winners, favourite activities were as follows…
Liz: Ice climbing and snow tubing
Sierra: Snowboarding for the first time and the vibes of Falcon Trails Resort
Nate: Hiking over frozen islands and reeling in a fish on Falcon Lake
Chris: Alone time in the Falcon Trails Resort sauna and trying a Reuben sandwich for the first time at Dunlop’s
Want to go with Travel Manitoba on an adventure throughout the province? Follow along with us on Instagram for our next contest!