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Time to make tracks—but why do they have to be uphill?

Nothing says get off the couch better than a mountain

Look at Julie Andrews prancing through the alpine meadows in The Sound of Music. She got it—the mountains were calling. With that in mind, I end my Christmas holiday with a snowshoe hike at Mount Washington Ski Resort on Vancouver Island.

Okay, I admit it. I was prepared for this adventure, it wasn’t a spontaneous decision. After all, if I’m going to write a blog called 52 Over 50—Writing the Year, I have to find 48 more reasons to get moving this year. Any suggestions are gratefully accepted. I dragged my snowshoes with us hoping someone would say, “Yeah, let’s do it!”—like a Nike commercial.

First, con someone into going with you

Luckily, my sister takes the bait. She moved to the Comox Valley to be close to skiing, but like a lot of us, rarely gets a chance to explore what’s in her own backyard.

Boxing Day is crisp and cold—there’s snow on them thar hills. Even better, the road to the resort is sanded and clear. We grab the snowshoes out of the back of the car. They’re easy to put on but it always takes me a few minutes to set the bindings. I guess that means that we should use them more often.

My sister is wearing my husband’s snowshoes. They aren’t the right size but we figure they’ll work just fine. After the first kilometre she’s doing a modified duck walk to keep them from banging together. The snowshoes are longer and wider than mine. They’re great for deep snow, but not so great on the groomed trails.

Mount Washington rents snowshoes—short red skinny ones. My sister is soon suffering snowshoe envy. I contemplate offering to trade but she’s taller than I am, so I’m off the hook. I console her with the fact that she’s working her adductor muscles. She doesn’t buy it.

Are we there yet?

We study the map and agree on a trail. It’s a 14-km circuit that leads to a campsite on an alpine lake. It looks like a good one. We start on our way, weaving across the flats, crossing narrow little snow bridges over what in summer will be tiny creeks.

The trail begins to get serious. Play time is over. If you want to check out a frozen alpine lake you have to climb a mountain. Our line of two begins to spread out. Nothing says you’re out of shape better than strapping boards to your feet and climbing a hill. I tell my sister she can go first, she’s faster. In reality, I don’t want her to see how often I stop.

It’s tough climbing a hill in snow shoes. I start feeling like Dory in Finding Nemo—just keep swimming, or in my case, just keep swinging one foot out in front of the other. There’s a lake up there somewhere, we just have to find it. We knock the snow off the next map and agree we’re going as far as the day area not the campground. Good, that shaves six km off our trip.

We keep going. Someone’s drawn a happy face in the snow on the rock beside the trail, only it’s not happy, it’s sad with tears. I feel its pain. We plod on up the hill and meet a couple of snowshoers coming down. I step off the trail and let them pass. “Is the lake close?” “Five minutes,” they assure me. I’d do a happy dance if I could lift my feet high enough.

It’s all about the finish

Five minutes—the trail flattens out and we’re there. Cheers. We break out the two cans of low-carb beer we carried up, and toast our Boxing Day hike. Heading down is faster. Do snowshoes get lighter going down hill? I think so.

Our hike over, we do what any skier does after a long day on the slopes—we head for the lodge. Nothing screams, “Let’s celebrate exercise” better than an order of wings and a cold beer.

We make one more stop. It appears my sister is a convert to snowshoeing. We head home from Sport Chek’s Boxing Day sale with a new pair of snowshoes.

If you plan to snowshoe this winter, check out Super, Natural British Columbia for more information.

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