There is a place in the North Saskatchewan forest that just feels like home to so many of the people who make their way there. This beautiful place is called Ness Creek. Chances are you have heard of the Ness Creek Music Festival, but you may not know that the Ness area is active all year round. There are many opportunities to get yourself up to the familiar site if you only take the time to find them, or even make them by visiting the campground. I found the perfect opportunity to get myself up there when I that seen a nature retreat planned for the first weekend in October. As soon as I seen it I had decided to sign up.
It was attended mainly, but not exclusively, by Sask Outdoors members. Sask Outdoor is an organization that encourages and represents people who participate in outdoor recreation, and promote education, responsibility, and respect for the land. The main goal for the nature retreat was basically to escape, relax, and enjoy nature. I personally had every intention to learn everything I could about the things around me during my stay, which is a good thing since nearly every person there was a teacher by profession.
The plan was, that there was very little planned at all. That way we had all the free time we could want to wander and explore, or even nap if we wanted. To break up the free time we took a few guided walks, which were led by Gorgon Olson. He gave all of us a tour of their permaculture forest garden, which just finished its 5th successful growing season. We were also able to get an early look at the new walipini greenhouse project. A walipini is an in ground green house that uses the earth as a cold frame. This one is built into the hillside, and will be heated during the cold months with a rocket stove. It could potentially be is operation as early as January. Next year you will also be able to check out the new bird observatory, which will double as what sounds like will be a great piece of art. We were fortunate enough to finish off an evening by watching a slideshow of John Murray’s spectacular photography, which features local wild life he has encountered around the site.
We all got to meet the resident chickens, who were allowed to roam during the day. The children even got to go pick the eggs themselves! There were quite a few children present at the nature retreat, all of whom were well behaved and only proved to enhance the whole experience. When children get out in the wild their intuitive and inquisitive nature can bring a whole new perspective to the adventure. You must slow down to the pace of little legs and wide eyes, and in this way you are given the opportunity to see what could have otherwise been so easily passed by.
Many of the people participating in the nature retreat had been to Ness Creek on multiple occasions in the past, myself being one of them. Despite this seeming familiarity, I learned so much about Ness Creek, there were so many places I hadn’t been before, and still so many I have yet to see. I’d love to go into depth and detail about all of the walks and adventures we had during our stay, but I think I’d rather allow you to go up and uncover them for yourself!