C'mon, Winter at the Ducks

Photo Series by Andy Goodson

  Little Boggy Creek Valley in Duck Mountain Prov. Park, Saskatchewan

Little Boggy Creek Valley in Duck Mountain Prov. Park, Saskatchewan

I never spend more than a few nights at Duck Mountain during the winter. But early this year I found myself with no obligations and unprecedented free time, so I took three weeks to record music at the family cabin. Naturally, having set a creative goal for myself, I went to great lengths to distract myself with other hobbies, namely photography. 

  Valley Walls from the Fen Trail at Little Boggy Creek

Valley Walls from the Fen Trail at Little Boggy Creek

  Frozen creek

Frozen creek

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  Black spruce, tamarack and a whole lot of white space

Black spruce, tamarack and a whole lot of white space

I took an afternoon off from recording and visited Little Boggy Creek, near the ski hill south of Madge Lake. My adventure-mobile did not have worthy tires and, when trying to leave the valley, I got stuck in a ditch. I walked to the top of the valley to see if I could get cell reception, but no luck.

By the time I was able to contact help, there was only an hour of sunlight left. I was poorly dressed and was still several kilometres short of reaching the nearest highway. Knowing Sean was coming out to help was a relief beyond words. The forest, which had taken on a cold, malevolent character, reverted immediately to its typical winter splendor.

  Hiking through snow at Duck Mountain

Hiking through snow at Duck Mountain

  Windswept concentric circles

Windswept concentric circles

A couple days after getting towed out by Sean (and losing my sideview mirror to the hedge along his driveway), I decided to retire the adventure-mobile and grab cross-country skis instead. The temperature was a balmy -6°C. The forest was covered in hoarfrost—something I've rarely experienced in such pleasant weather.

   Black-capped chickadees  do not migrate south for the winter. They rely on high-fat seeds and the ability to conserve energy by lowering body temperature ( torpor ) to tolerate winter conditions. 

Black-capped chickadees do not migrate south for the winter. They rely on high-fat seeds and the ability to conserve energy by lowering body temperature (torpor) to tolerate winter conditions. 

  Cross-country skiing to Moose Lake shelter

Cross-country skiing to Moose Lake shelter

  Cross-country skiiing through Winter Wonderland

Cross-country skiiing through Winter Wonderland

  "What're you lookin' at?" —  Grey Owl

"What're you lookin' at?" — Grey Owl

Winter at the Duck Mountains was as beautiful as I expected—I was even able to finish recording a handful of songs. But after making dozens of trips to a frozen outhouse, boiling snow for dish-water and sustaining on Brazil nuts and Chester Fried Chicken, I could only wait patiently for the thaw.