We spent Christmas up at Whistler and signed up for a 1.5hr beginners snowshoe tour on Boxing Day.
The first 5 minutes was delightful. It had snowed a lot the day before so the snow was fresh and deep and I had lots of energy. I suspect if I had waterproof trousers and was given a 100 square km area in which to romp, I would have had a fabulous time. But we had to go where our guide led (which, given the high avalanche danger, was probably the wisest move).
Our tour was basically a big loop around one side of Whistler Mountain and the first thing we had to do was go down a large hill. The people with waterproof trousers were encouraged to bum-slide down (the one thing I seem to be made for)…
but the rest of us had to trek down the long way. Phooey.
Because the snow covers everything, it’s difficult to guess what the ground you’re standing on would look like without the snow. Every step you take is an adventure and I struggled to enjoy the uncertainty. I’d really like to have known that under my feet was level ground that had an even layer of snow on top. But no, it was much more exciting (read terrifying) than that. Often my foot sank 15-20cm into the snow and that was okay – even fun – because I had enough leverage to pull my foot out and put it down in front on me again. But sometimes I unexpectedly found one leg knee-deep in snow before my foot connected with something solid – and that made me panic a teensy bit.
The down-and-around bit of the loop was a bit scary but not too bad. After a short trek the group would be hot, sweaty and out of breath so we’d pause to recover and take in the scenery (except it was snowing at the time, so we couldn’t see a whole lot). Then as soon as we’d cooled down and could mostly breath again, we’d move on. We all fell over and laughed a lot.
The second half of the loop, going around-and-up, was much, much scarier. By this time I had spent most of my energy and was breathing quite hard*. So when I cleverly discovered a sink-hole next to a hidden boulder and got my foot stuck in thigh-deep snow, I almost burst into tears. (It’s difficult to enjoy nature when certain death seemed to present itself every 30 seconds). I read somewhere that snowshoeing is particularly tiring in deep, fresh snow and I reckon that’s probably true. I’m so glad we did the trek it in stages otherwise I’d never have made it. I barely made it as it was. And let me tell you, I was deleriously happy to see the Roundhouse Lodge. I even had enough half a brain to take a triumphant picture.
*I realised later I must have been hyperventilating in the -14C air because I felt quite dizzy and sick for the rest of the day. Whoops…