For this excursion, we ventured out with our friend Dino, who is a snowshoe guide and member of Penticton Search & Rescue. I like him because he’s not afraid to challenge us. We began our trek near Apex Village and headed up a nearby mountain. After an hour of climbing in below zero temperatures, we reached an exposed meadow. We fought a stiff wind and drifting snow as we hurried up to a grove of trees to catch our breath. My hair formed a massive knot of ice and tangles. But on a good note, my toes had thawed. Heart pumping and nose running, I stopped to look behind me. The snow clouds parted briefly, revealing a stunning panoramic view of Apex Mountain.
As we continued through the forest, Lorna, another friend in our group, loudly whispered, “STOP.” A beautiful white Snowshoe hare with black-tipped ears appeared just metres ahead of us. This animal gets its name because of its large hind feet, which allow it to hop without sinking into the snow. We stood absolutely still. He watched us with one eye, and then quickly turned his head, starring us down with the other. Seconds later, he was gone, blending seamlessly into his winter wonderland. Clearly the feeling of “awe” was not mutual.
Now it was time for some serious downhill. Always checking for the possibility of avalanches, Dino instructed us to proceed one at a time. “I highly doubt the snow will let go, but you never know.” And with that, he took off, snow flying and snowshoes flipping. Lorna followed. Then it was my turn. I picked up speed – and then woooosh – I was down. “Lift your knees, Erin, LIFT YOUR KNEES, loosen up!” coached Dino. I got back up quickly and found my rhythm. Lift, lift, lift. Before I knew it, I’d broken a sweat and reached the bottom.
After more bushwhacking, we found a sheltered area for lunch. With the confidence of Survivorman’s Les Stroud, Dino built a roaring fire in minutes. Using a base of small sticks, he added twigs, tree moss and small cubes of fire starter. Short of jumping into the fire and burning our mitts to keep warm, we sipped tea and dined on mashed sandwiches, nuts and chocolate. Who knew we were in the midst of a snowstorm?
However, drinking too much tea meant I now had to pee. I found the perfect spot (with a view) on the edge of a sloping hill. Happily squatting and admiring the speed at which my pee melted the snow, I accidentally lost my balance. With my bare bum skyward, I rolled forward, spreading out into the ugliest of snow angels. My high-pitched screams had the group thinking I’d come face-to-face with a bear. Snow was in my every crevice – as well as my pants, mouth and boots, and down my shirt. I raced to fish out the melting snowballs. The worst part was that I still needed to pee, but I decided that could wait. This stuff never happens to men, right?
There are lots of how-to articles on snowshoeing out there. They’ll tell you how to dress, recommend safety tips and review the latest gear. And this is all useful, as Dino will tell you. But for me, it’s the adventures along the way that keep me coming back for more.