I grew up in Northern Ontario where snow was an everyday thing between roughly October and May, where snowmobiles were a main form of transportation for many during those months, and where sledding was an after school activity. One of the reasons I moved to BC’s south coast was it’s much milder climate and its lack of snow. I figured I had my fill, and should I have an itch to go play, the mountains are practically in my backyard. Ah the mountains. Another huge part of the initial draw to this part of the country for me. But I have a confession to make. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been up to the mountains. I might even have a finger or 2 left to spare, and after living here for more than 13 years, that sounds downright shameful.
I recently had the chance to add another finger to that count and venture up to Cypress Mountain, a Healthy Family Expo sponsor (happening March 6th, mark your calendar!), with some other amazing ladies who are also Healthy Family Expo Ambassadors. The Adventure? Snowshoeing!
Now, having been away from the snow circle for quite sometime, I wasn’t really sure what I would need for this snowshoeing adventure. Turns out, since the snowshoes and headlamps were provided, I didn’t need too much besides some warm clothes, a snack and a way to take photos. Thinking I might spend a lot of time on my butt or worse, I left the camera at home and relied on the smartphone instead. While I didn’t fall nearly as much as I thought I would, I was happy to have less bulk on me as we trekked through the woods.
From my previous snow experience I knew it was wise to dress in layers. But it has been pretty mild this winter, so I wasn’t sure just how many layers I would need. It’s important to remember that as you get moving, you’ll warm up rather quickly and it’s nice to be able to remove a layer if necessary…something I realized at the top of the first hill! Waterproof pants or ski pants are also a great idea since it’s possible that you may fall over in the snow, and likely that you’ll want to take advantage of some of the ‘chutes’ and slide on your bum to a different part of the trail…an act that had us all hooting and hollering as we followed our guide’s example. Winter boots are preferred, but don’t despair if you don’t own a pair. Cypress has some pretty amazing bootie covers to go over boots or shoes giving you instant waterproof-ness; think Stonz boots for adults.
When all of us blogging mammas arrived at the Cypress Nordic area, there was much excitement, some nervousness as many of us were first timers, but mostly we were eager to begin our tour and explore the mountain forest. We were all outfitted with the aforementioned headlamps and snowshoes and then met outside for our first lesson: putting on the snowshoes; surprisingly easy and the straps will adjust to nearly any size and shape of footwear, though leave those heels at home. I have to say, these snowshoes look nothing like the ones my granny would wear out trapping, ones I’m pretty certain she made herself actually. No, these ones had teeth in the bottoms, and didn’t resemble a squash racket. The teeth are needed to climb hilly terrain, and the more iconic snowshoes are best used on frozen lakes and other flat areas environments. I was immediately thankful for those teeth as we climbed and crunched our way up the first hill!
The view up there is incredible, made even more so by the frosting of snow covering everything, and our friendly, funny and knowledgeable guide Kelvin took opportunities to teach us more about the area and its history at each of our rest stops, as well as teaching us the proper way to scoot down the chutes on our bums without lodging a snowshoe and launching yourself, and he had big plastic bags for each of us to try it ourselves.
At the end of our tour, we were incredibly thankful; for the views of the stars, the city lights and beyond (we could see Nanaimo!), for the time spent in the beauty of nature, for the crazy good workout (buns of steel folks!) and that there was delicious hot chocolate waiting for us at the bottom.
If you have never been snowshoeing before, there’s no time like the present and we have a few beautiful mountains, each rife with trails. While you are welcome to do self guided tours, I recommend taking a guided tour both for the navigational help if you’re new and for the knowledge the tour group leaders share throughout the journey.
Cypress Mountain offers 2 hour guided snowshoe tours on weekends at 1 pm and 4 pm both Saturday and Sunday rain or shine as long as the mountain is operational. Guided tours are $38/person and include equipment rental and snack of hot chocolate and a cookie at the end. Custom dates and times are available for groups of 8 or more participants.
To book a snowshoe tour email [email protected] or call (604) 926-5612.
For more information on Cypress Mountain and what it has to offer, or to check the latest conditions up top, visit www.cypressmountain.com
As earlier mentioned, Cypress Mountain is a huge sponsor of the Healthy Family Expo, coming to the Vancouver Convention Centre for one day only on March 6th, 2016. Be sure to check back in to the blog to learn more about the upcoming Expo, the vendors, the prizes, and a 2-for-1 admission code for ticket purchase. We can’t wait to see you there!