New Year’s Celebration at Sawyer Lake Lodge By Kimberly Epp
New Year’s Ski Party in the Porcupine Forest
A true winter wonderland with almost 2 feet of freshly fallen snow, brought a group of nature and adventure lovers to Sawyer Lake Lodge, situated next to the Porcupine Forest of eastern Saskatchewan, on the afternoon of December 30, 2002.
Almost immediately, my good friend Branimir tossed me, not once, but twice into the freshly fallen snow! After that cool initiation, Dave Weiman’s team of sled dogs introduced themselves. Finally, damp and chilled, I headed into the eco-lodge for a cup of hot tea while others went on a cross-country ski tour with Cliff. Later on we enjoyed a fine meal and a relaxing evening in the lodge.
Being a light sleeper, I opted for one of the rustic cabins while others choose the comfort of the main lodge for sleeping quarters. The rustic experience was fully appreciated during my midnight trek across the new snow to the privy! The sky was clear both nights and the stars couldn’t have been brighter. The dogs looked at me curiously; not even attempting to leave their houses, probably wondering what odd individual would be out in the middle of the night!
December 31 was a busy day. Dave hooked up his team of dogs to take those interested in rides for a trek along the forest fringe. Skiers made their way in the snow, seeking birds and discovering animal tracks. Several adventurous people tried skijoring, an old fashioned way of being transported on skis by animal power.
We also learned how Dave and his crew do selective eco-logging in his woodlot, and got a chance to help take down a couple of trees and see the horses haul them out to the landing. The horses had also hauled us into the logging area on an old-fashioned sleigh.
It was truly a winter wonderland ‚ a site that couldn’t have been more magical!
I decided I wanted to experience skijoring with their hefty Suffolk Punch work horse, Queenie. Of course, for being the first to attempt this brave feat, everyone took out their cameras to record my attempt. After getting the tow harness on, and falling flat on my face, I was unsure how my skiing skills would handle this. But, Queenie started pulling and I managed to stay upright, that is until we made our last turn, when, once again I greeted the fresh-fallen snow. I decided that perhaps this was not the sport for me. I watched Branimir and Cliff successfully attempt this, even at full gallop, and realized how comical I must have looked – funny how we entertain ourselves!
After a full day of activity and with the smell of mulled wine filling the lodge, we settled into the anticipation of the coming New Year. Slides, games, bird quizzes, and plenty of appetizers were shared before we dug into a wonderful pot-luck feast – adding to the holiday atmosphere.
The New Year was rung in with champagne and hugs. New Year’s Day got going slowly, but left time for more skiing and dog sled rides before heading home. Thanks to Cliff, Dave and Sylvia for organizing such a wonderful event!
Note: The New Year’s Eve in the Porcupine Forest program ended when Sawyer Lake Adventures closed their ecolodge operation in 2009