Have Snowshoes, Will Travel – Vancouver, BC

As the snowshoe season fast approaches, I feel a jolt of anticipation. Yes even more than usual, because after 9 years of living abroad, an opportunity finally arose last spring for my husband Jack and I to move home to Canada, our beloved Great White North. And white it is. When we arrived in April, Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains were still covered in several feet of snow. A good system really – spring in the city and winter a few thousand feet up. We can’t believe our good fortune.

Vancouver is a vibrant and scenic city at any time, but as it leads up to the 2010 Winter Olympics, the excitement builds. While we orient ourselves, we rent a tiny downtown apartment with north-facing windows. The pre-Olympic building boom is well underway as we count numerous construction cranes against Vancouver’s mountainous backdrop. Every night we look up at the lights on Grouse Mountain and think about the great snowshoe excursions we will plan once we get settled and learn the lay of the land.

Finally, our heads spinning with moving logistics, we venture out of the city for a much-needed nature fix. Our destination is Cypress Mountain where we find well-maintained snowshoe trails, breathtaking vistas and cozy warming huts. Snowshoeing at its civilized best. We scramble up the steep slopes of Hollyburn Peak and pause to catch our breath. Endless snow-covered mountains stretch to the north and east, while Vancouver’s cosmopolitan downtown and sprawling suburbs sit at our feet to the south. This is our new home, and we’re thankful we have managed at least one late-season snowshoe outing. It gives us an idea of what we have to look forward to.

Fast forward several months. We are now almost completely settled in our new home and have spent the short summer season hiking, kayaking and cycling. As the daylight hours get shorter, we eagerly watch the mountains turn white with early snow. It won’t be long now. We study trail maps, discuss destinations with new friends and spend hours online checking out nearby snowshoeing opportunities. We look forward to further explorations of the North Shore mountains and also plan excursions to Whistler, Manning Provincial Park and beyond.

It’s shaping up to be a great snowshoe season and I look forward to sharing our adventures with you. Armchair planning is a great motivator. So get out those maps or go online and start planning your own snowshoe adventures. The season is almost upon us!

Practical Information:

Grouse, Seymour and Cypress are the holy trinity of Vancouver’s North Shore mountains. All offer a variety of services for snowshoers, from basic rentals to evening fondue tours. Proximity to the city makes after-work snowshoe hikes an appealing possibility.

Snowshoe racers, take note of the Yeti Mountain Snowshoe Series, challenging and fun events that take place on Seymour, Cypress and at other B.C. mountain locations.

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