The mountains beckon me throughout the year, but somehow their call in winter is different and holds a special allurement for me. There’s a silence, a peace, a sense of contentment up there that is exclusively present during these months.
The softness of pure white snow falling gently upon my toque, although subtle, is calming. Even when there are blizzard conditions, the stinging of snow against my exposed face reminds me that I am very much alive, although just a tiny speck upon Mother Earth. The bright sun on crisp bluebird days leaves me in awe with every corner I round, every hill I summit, and every viewpoint I witness. These moments are many, and they leave me exhilarated and breathless.
I am often solo in the winter mountains—albeit with at least one, and usually two or more, canines in tow. The solitude of my excursions confers a sense of reverence for the environment that I can fully appreciate only when I am alone. I enter a space of refuge and independence on these lone outings, though my canine buddies reconnect me to the realm of life shared with others. Nonetheless, the tranquility of my surroundings provides moments of wonder as I ponder my existence. Often, these outings cradle space for creativity—and frequently generate new ideas and plans for my life.
With my Tubb snowshoes strapped to my boots, and the dogs running freely and excitedly through the deep snow, I plod through the silence of time and into a new dimension—one that is not unlike a scene from a Stephanie Gauvin painting. My senses are on high alert and I take in the marvel of the winter wonderland before me. From Ramparts Creek on Mt. Washington, where I generally go, the vistas are simply spectacular. On a clear day, the views reach all the way to the jagged snow-capped peaks of the Coast Mountain Range on the mainland. The islands scattered about the Salish Sea are highly visible and picturesque.
While I usually snowshoe in the daytime, there is nothing quite like the magnificence of a full-moon sashay. With the stars in full view, the brilliant moon leading the way, and the glow from the valley below, I am transported to a magical space. A gentle evening snowfall is equally enchanting, giving me the sensation of being engulfed in a snow globe. Early-morning jaunts to wake up the senses are especially joyful; I have witnessed numerous sunrises while perched high above the valley. These mornings are unlike anything one can truly describe through prose—they must be experienced in person to fully grasp the intensity of the dawn of a new day.
I have been a passionate snowshoer for 20 years. It provides a fair amount of physical exertion when I seek out fresh snow and steep hills. On days when I am not feeling particularly energetic, I opt for a well-trodden path that demands less work on my part. The Comox Valley yields many beautiful spots to snowshoe, including Ramparts Creek, Forbidden Plateau, and Paradise Meadows. Additionally, when Cumberland is blanketed with a welcome dump of snow, the trails in our local forest can be tremendous.
As I near the end of each ramble, I am left with a sense of wonderment and gratitude for the moments I’ve experienced. Any excursion on the shoes gives me a sense of happiness, peace, and fulfillment. And each year I find myself anxiously awaiting the first snowfall, knowing it won’t be long before I’m strapping on my Tubbs once again.