Friday, February 28, 2014

Snowshoeing in Ontario

How often do you see the sun this time of year? No, seriously. While the people on the West Coast are laughing at my question, anyone east of Saskatchewan is seriously considering how to answer. Was it two weeks ago? A month? We don’t get diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) because we want to stay home from work and watch hockey – although, I’m sure this excuse was used during the Winter Games a time or two. In all honesty, in the last few weeks, I have only experienced a full day of sunshine twice. Yesterday was one of them. And today is another. Dare we try for three in a row? I won’t push my luck.

Noting this good fortune on day numero uno of the sunshine, I did what any winter lover would do; I grabbed my camera, two dogs (don’t worry, they’re mine - I didn’t just steal them) and my snowshoes. Together Hunter, my Husky, and Jack, my German shepherd, and I set off for a trek around the mountain. Now, before you think I set out and climbed Mt. Everest yesterday, let me explain. The ‘Mountain’ as the locals call it, is actually more of a giant hill, a flat mount on top of a valley, if you will. Depending on how bold I feel, I even describe this ‘mountain’ as a lookout, because on a clear day you can see all the way to the next city. It is anything but a mountain, says this girl who loves British Columbia mostly for its landscape. But seeing as I don’t permanently live there yet, it is the closest thing to a mountain I have. In reality, and to the non-imaginative locals, it is known as the East Coulson Swamp - yet another reason why I refer to this place by about any other name I can think of. This name leads you to believe that this land is smelly, rotten and just plain unattractive – meanwhile, it is a thing of beauty. Every time I go, I discover something new. It has sneaky trails, creeks, wildlife galore and the list goes on and on. In the summer I regulate this land twice a week, at least. I have even camped on top of the mountain, blatantly going against all the signs wishes (sorry!). It’s my quiet place, and on day one of the sunshine, it was a sight to be seen. 

Day numero duo of sunshine tempted me to go back to my mountain for more winter discovery, but as with all things involved with travel, there are more things waiting to be explored. That being said, I forced myself to go a bit further down the road to wander around part of the old Simcoe County Forest. If you’ve never been and you’re an outdoor adventurist, you best be packing your bags. Mountain bikers from all over come here in the summer to ride its vastly growing number of trails – all of which make great cross country ski and snowshoe trails in the winter. I will admit, even as a local I still get lost in its winding map of pathways, but whenever I go somewhere it’s like this. I’m happy to say I did make it out alive, even if I did get turned around a couple times – thank god those mountain bikers colour-code their trails on the trees is all I have to say.

Today’s snowshoe was a bit on the chillier side, so my picture creativity was lacking due in fact to the fear that my fingers would freeze and fall off. With a wind chill of -29 even the sunshine doesn’t take the Jack Frost nip from your nose, but I’m not complaining.

As I write this cozily sitting on my couch with a cup of tea, the sun has set. Do I dare ask that it return tomorrow?