People passionate about nature

Mantario In the Winter

How an annual visit helps one member's mental & physical health

By: Katrina Froese, Nature Manitoba member

I fell in love with the Mantario Cabin and Wilderness Area at a different time of year than most people do – in the dead of winter.

My first trip to the cabin was led by a Nature Manitoba member over the February long weekend in 2011.  It was a difficult ski in for me. I grew up skiing, but this trip was at a turning point in my life. At 26 years old, I was having my “quarter-life” crisis – after years of university slothfulness, I’d forgotten my love of physical challenge, and the positive impact that fitness has on my mental health.

Carrying a backpack and skiing 20 kilometres across frozen lakes and portages felt like a mountain trek! I was exhausted by the time we arrived at the cabin 5 hours after leaving the cars. Luckily, we had a day to rest and recuperate, and to take a short ski over to visit a beautiful small lake nearby. I also was able to take advantage of the hot sauna to ease my sore muscles.  Full immersion in an ice hole cut in the lake was a completely new experience, and a huge thrill!

The return distance felt way shorter, and by the time I returned to Winnipeg, I was already thinking about how I would get back out to Mantario. Even better, I had gained a bunch of new adventure friends who I could return with again and again. I was back at Mantario two more times before the ice melted that year.

Since then, I’ve led many trips to the cabin for Nature Manitoba, for Alpine Club of Canada members, and been on personal trips with friends and family. I have not yet had a winter where I didn’t make at least one trip to the cabin. I’ve experienced both cold (-30°C) and warm (+10°C) conditions, I’ve slogged through knee-deep snow and slid through ankle-deep water, and I’ve sat and enjoyed the bright sun on a exposed rock shoreline. I've even had to keep my bearings skiing in white-out conditions across Big Whiteshell.

It’s always an adventure when you choose to travel to Mantario in winter!

Here are some photos and excerpts from the Mantario Log Books to highlight the interesting characters and the antics they get up to on winter trips.  Thanks to the writers who took the time to share these stories and experiences.