Always on the lookout for a picturesque trekking trail, my trip to the mountainous plains of Mont Tremblant in Canada’s Québec province stirred the same longing to go and explore, away from the novice slope where I learnt to snowboard and outside of the cable car view of the sweeping snow-capped forests, accessible only to those more experienced. In Canada, getting right into the heart of the landscape via trekking isn’t off limits during the winter – it’s just more commonly known as snowshoeing.
Once an essential tool for hunter-gatherers, snowshoeing remains as a popular recreational activity for runners and avid hikers to continue their hobby during the season of heavy snowfall. In Mont Tremblant, I was able to combine trekking with learning about nature and survival in the great outdoors on the Fireman Snowshoe Tour – a two-hour journey through the quiet forest surrounding the bustling slopes.
When you first strap on your snowshoes, it feels odd to have large aluminum frames attached to your feet, making you immediately waddle like a duck. As soon as we put our snowshoes on, we were taught how to walk in them, where you lift your feet slightly, roll your feet more and really emphasise the stepping action on your toes. Within minutes you soon realise it’s easy to pick up a stride and your adventurous spirit, as you pass the snowy roads and hit the powder-drenched forests.
Snowshoes work by distributing your weight over a larger surface area so that your foot does not sink into the snow, with gaps or woven grid patterns to cut through and flatten it, rather than absorb it. In a group you quickly make easily traversable trails – the strongest of trekkers being asked to help lead the way. And while it’s easy to fall, those little stumbles actually aid the experience. We giggled as people feel into a mass of soft snow and soon learnt how to laugh at ourselves for tripping over our own feet!
For someone who has never seen such levels of snowfall it was exhilarating to be within it, passing roaming deer as we climbed deeper in the forest slopes and stumbling across ice glaciers that had formed around the rock walls.
And like hunter gathers of old, minus the traditional latticed snowshoes made of animal skins and other natural materials, we listened as our leader stopped to play his flute in the still air of the wilderness and watched in awe as we gathered around him while he made a fire from tree bark and other materials. It was a perfect winter adventure.
Easy to learn, safe and inexpensive, snowshoeing is an ideal way to experience the exhilaration of the great outdoors in a Canadian Winter. It’s unique if you are not from a country which experiences harsh winters (like myself) and even if you are experienced in such climates, this is a memorable opportunity to sample a tradition that goes back thousands of years in a country where no adventurous escapades are off-limits because of the weather.
My visit to Mont Tremblant was a part of the #LoveWinter blog trip created and managed by iambassador in partnership with the Canadian Tourism Commission, Tourism Montreal and Tourism Quebec. I maintain all editorial control over the content produced as a result of this trip and all opinions remain my own, including the fact that I think I’m rather good at snowshoeing.