My spirit needs quiet several times a year. Winter is no exception. The beauty of winter is that quiet is easier to find. Fewer people are out and about. You may find yourself alone in the destination of your choice.
Find your special outdoor places. Many are closer than you think, and perfect for a few hours or a day trip. Or maybe travel further out of the city this winter. Make a plan, and save for it. The winter passes faster with a goal in sight.
Close to home, head to Rundle Park for refreshing daytime walks. Parking is free, with easy access in the lot below the sled hill. Breath the fresh winter air and relax with nature on the walkable paths.
You don’t have to walk far to reach the paths by the river. The trails are popular, but not crowded or noisy. The North Saskatchewan River flows alongside. You may see an owl, a grey jay, or dozens of chickadees. You will see the tracks of mice, rabbits, and coyotes, all sharing the river valley but not often spotted during the day.
Only 40 minutes from the city, nothing is more impressive than the night sky at Elk Island National Park. Step out of your comfort zone of daytime hiking (which is also spectacular). Head out to Elk Island on a clear night around 10 pm, and don’t forget to pack folding chairs and blankets.
On the far side of the Bison Loop Road, darkness is supreme and silence reigns. Unfold your camp chair, wrap yourself up in blankets, and just sit and look. The night sky is filled with uncountable stars. The aurora borealis may give you a show. No need to worry about bison creeping up in the dark. They spend their winter nights deeper in the forest.
Further afield, Alberta offers many quiet winter getaways. My favourite is the Lazy M Lodge, 45 minutes west of Red Deer, near Caroline. The countryside opens before you, with pristine snow-covered fields. On a sunny day, the views are especially breathtaking.
Stop at the top of the hill, step out, and soak in the sight of the foothills of the Rockies in the distance. Below is the log-built lodge, hosted by Marcel Gour and Randy McGhee for the past dozen years.
“Rest, Relax & Recharge” is the motto of this year-round oasis. Two wood stoves add a special warmth to the country living ambience. A hot tub just outside the rear door is especially inviting. Delicious meals are included, so there is no worry about when or what to eat.
But above all, there is a serene country quiet that is infinitely restful.
My favourite spot is out on the deck, overlooking the North Raven River, famous as a brown trout spawning stream. Wearing my cold weather gear and cuddling in a cozy blanket, I like to sit, sip a hot chocolate, and listen to the soft sounds of nature. The tiny but fast-flowing North Raven River never freezes, adding a pleasant burbling. Chickadees, blue jays, nuthatches, and grosbeaks busily visit the feeders.
Sometimes the silence is broken. Once, a moose wandered down the river until Rascal, the lodge’s welcoming collie, barked him away. After all, no place is perfectly serene!
A final tip: never underestimate the cold. From head to toe, bundle up. Warm socks and boots are a must. Nothing is worse than frozen feet to spoil your winter serenity.