Lights finally filled the sky for the second Natural Habitat Adventures group of the Winter season. Guide Karen Walker landed with her travelers at the Churchill airport and headed into town where they took in the amazing artifacts in the Eskimo museum. The day was calm.no wind at all ..a gorgeous Winter day. After a trip down Goose Creek Road and up the observation tower at the marina to view some pine grossbeaks, boreal chickadees and other birds, the group headed back into town to prepare for an evening at the aurora domes.
As the group headed out of town on the launch road toward the A-frame building just past the overlook where a major part of the movie Snow Walker was filmed in 2003, the aurora was already revealing itself slightly in the Northwest sky. A feint veil became more electric shimmering across the slate black sky. Once the group settled in at the Aurora domes, the sky was filled with the greenish color arcing across the horizon and showering down reflections over the Hudson Bay and up along the precambrian shield reaching up to the domes. By 11:00 pm,”green filled the sky and waves of aurora were moving like crazy”, according to Karen. Folks were definitely excited as prior groups had few looks at the phenomena. Morphing waves of green made for some fine photographs as well.
The following day was filled with cultural endeavors with Metis elder Myrtle Demeulles giving a talk on her Metis heritage and living on the land back in Saskatchewan. the rest of the day was filled with some excitement out at Joe Buck’s ridge with Dave Daley and Wapusk Adventures as the group had some amazing dog sledding time and general socializing with the animals. One of the rides caused a bit of a stir when the sled dumped two travelers and a musher and returned to the warming hut alone. They were quickly recovered a short distance on the trail and had a unique story to tell about the North. Feeding the gray jays out of their hands was another unique Arctic experience back at the warming hut and dog compound. With Dave away racing his “top dogs” at the Canadian Challenge in Saskatchewan, his son Joel gave the people all the information they could handle about the sled dogs and exciting rides as well.
The next night at the aurora domes was not as spectacular as the first though quite different. A diffused greenish snakelike movement across the Northern sky morphed continuously in circles above the domes as guests watched in awed silence. Unusual curtains of green and white also shifted quickly from one edge of the sky to the other…quite a unique appearance this night.
After touring the town complex the next morning with Dene elder Caroline Bjorklund speaking of Churchill history and Dene trials through their Arctic home, the group settled into the Churchill feel and way of life of a frontier town. And, since every complex in these remote Northern towns has a curling rink, the group was inclined to try their hands at the obscure sport. Luke Spence, proprietor of the town-run rink, was generous enough to facilitate a clinic for the group. Enjoyed thoroughly by all, this contingent of mostly Americans was surely “born to sweep” as they wryly put it.
During a warm night out at Goose Creek subdivision in Bill Calnan’s bed and breakfast…hearing stories from the local historian, Karen and her group viewed a faint aurora in the dark sky from the forest’s edge. With just a slight glow, the group reflected on how lucky they had been on the first night and even second evening given the virtual unpredictability of the lights on recent excursions of other travelers. The mild temperatures, just around freezing, made viewing outside the cabins quite comfortable.
Returning to the “big city” of Winnipeg following an amazing “enlightened” journey to Churchill, the group took in a gallery tour at the Manitoba museum ..a fine way to weave the strands of the regions varied cultural groups and history together.