If you’ve been craving activity – and the winter’s day is too short for you to get out during the few hours on sunlight we’ve been getting lately – it’s time to make Mother Nature work for you.
Vancouver’s local mountains offer snowboarding and skiing, but I have some fun Winter Fun ideas for you. Since 2007 Outside Magazine rates the “hottest new sport” as snowshoeing. When I was a little girl living in Switzerland we used to have to hike through deep snow on our property wearing the big old style “Trappers” snowshoes. They were awkward and took a long time to get on and just weren’t meant for my hikes in the deep snow (I was just too light – and they were just too big!).
In the early 1990s I was going to school and snowboarding up at Whistler – I yearned for an activity that I could do to cross train and just get out in the forest and be with nature. I happened to venture into a sport store one afternoon and my eyes fell on them: “red titanium snowshoes.” They were small and light and had a binding that was easily adjustable – perfect for hiking or running on powder or slippery slopes. My hiking and love of outdoors and changed and been challenged since.
If you work in the day you can get out at night and drive or take a bus to any of our local mountains -www.grousemountain.com – www.cypressmountain.com – or www.mountseymour.com. All three mountains offer snowshoe tours at night from 6:30 – 9:30 pm – guided. You can rent your gear at the rental shop when you arrive. When ready you can go on your own – if you know the trails – and have a map.
Come prepared with a small pack for food, water, headlamp, and warm clothing. You require a warm jacket, dri fit or wool liners (underwear), warm socks, hat or ear muffs, two pairs of gloves, and leather boots, or a good sealed hiking boot. You can purchase your own headlamp at Mountain Equipment Coop or any of the mountain sports stores on “Mountain row” (W.Broadway between Alberta and Manitoba).
Hydration is critical – a Nalgene bottle or a thermos of hot tea. Bring a small food ration of trail mix, and chocolate or a light sandwich.
Snowshoeing burns calories; it’s cold out and you are walking on uneven terrain. Take a break and enjoy looking at the stars, and you might even see a rabbit run across your path. I have seen coyotes, deer, and even mice run on the snow as I venture through the forest trails. Be prepared for wildlife. And a nice thing – you won’t run into bears as they are in hibernation!
Go with a guide and always let someone know where you are going. There are tons of kilometers of great trails to venture on – I advise people to go with others that are experienced. Ask for a map (at the rental shop) and keep it with you. North Shore Search and Rescue are dealing with emergencies on a regular basis – snowshoer’s getting lost and unprepared for weather changes. Don’t make that mistake! I have suffered frostbite and hypo-thermia on several occasions – thinking I was prepared- only to find a storm coming in – and didn’t have sufficient clothing with me to stay warm.
Yet its allure keeps me coming back – you can explore the outdoors during a full moon, or on a bright sunny day – gather a group together and venture out in the great outdoors. If you can walk, you can snowshoe.