Thursday, March 8, 2007

Review: Minaki Yurt Adventures (winter)

I'm back from 2 days of skiing at Minaki Yurt Adventures. Every year I like to do at least one XC ski trip and this year I wanted something that was a little less extreme then previous years. Luckily, I picked up the Winnipeg Free Press and read an article on a quaint sounding place a mere 2.5 hours away from Winnipeg. At about $15 per person per night in a nicer yurt plus $5 a day trail fees it seemed like a steal (though if you go with just two you need to pay the $60 a night minimum). Dalen and I arrived there with tons of gear. We brought a sled and hauled our gear the 10 minute ski to our yurt. It was a 20 diameter yurt with hardwood floors and a pine upper cone/ceiling (check out my previous post for details on yurts). It was equipped with water, a propane stove, a wood stove, a couple of futons, some magazines, pots/pans/cuttlery, and a bunk bed. Though you could technically have 6 people in there, I wouldn't have more then 4. It would also make a nice romantic getaway for just you and that special person.

The trails there (about 25km worth) are very nice. All were well designed and maintained except for the Red Squirrel trail. Dalen and I of course had to try it anyway, breaking trail the whole way. Let's just say we were pretty exhausted when we finally completed it. Shortly after that we were returning to our yurt when we stopped to look at one of the trail maps which are at every major intersection of trail. Dalen was so tired that while looking at it, he kind of slid his head into it. That was of course funny but then a moment later he completely fell over! I laughed hard, but then I reminded myself that 10 minutes earlier I'd been sking on a gentle downward slope and just fell over for no reason (my mind tends to wander). Anyway, the trails are great and I reccomend them -I'd like to come back and try them on bikes in the summer.

We were the only ones there, and the owners seemed quite laid back. The tri-level yurt that the owners live in (which is also a bed and breakfast) is stunning. Like most of the tiny pictures on the website, they do not do it justice. Staying in one of the two B&B bedrooms in the yurt would be a great experience I think. They are small, but the area outside is definitely large enough to lounge around comfortably in. This yurt's lower level (the owners live in the top two levels) has two bathrooms, two fireplaces, two cats, a beautiful kitchen, and a nice piano. It's decorated rustically yet with incredible style. Beautiful.

My favorite part of the week (besides Dalen's amazing cooking) was going for a night ski to the Finnish Sauna. Skiing through the night with your headlamp on is a magical experience. Also, the sauna itself (which I didn't think would be that great) was totally invigorating. If you go, you have to try it! Especially if you go in winter. Standing on the deck overlooking the lake while you watch steam rise off of your body in the middle of winter is just an otherworldly experience.

Minaki Yurt adventures is definitely a great place for a two or three day retreat/adventure. Pluses: unique and cheap accomadations, beautiful trails, rustic scenery, Finnish sauna, relatively close to Winnipeg. Negatives: Occasional trains, $60 per night minimum for the Blueberry Yurt.
Rating: 4.1 ninja stars out 5

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