Thursday, January 21, 2016

Snowshoe trek to Anderson Lake and maple butter "BeaverTails"...totally Canadian, eh?

Joan, and Mount Washington.
One of the special things about Vancouver Island, for outdoor enthusiasts, is the climate, the mildest in Canada. On this, the largest island on the West coast of North America, several sub-tropical crops such as lemons and olives can be grown. We had a lovely palm tree, growing out front, amongst the huge Douglas Fir trees until our resident deer population did the completely unthinkable - they ate it! I know, they were here first.

This "Mediterranean" climate means...choices

On a typical January morning, it is almost always possible to choose to go sea kayaking or hiking, downhill or Nordic skiing, or even play a round of golf. Not bad. 

Several days ago, five of us, Sara (who graciously provided the snowshoes), Linda, Joan, Kasey the Dog, and myself, met up on the lower slopes of Mount Washington, about a two hour drive, north of Base Camp 1. At the nearby alpine resort, there is currently a snow base of 283cm (over 9 ft)) at the 1488m elevation (almost 5000 ft.) At the trailhead, where we would put on the snowshoes, it was about two thirds that depth - a LOT of snow. 

Destination: Anderson Lake, in simply pristine conditions.

Image, courtesy of Linda.
Strangely, for two people who have spent most of their lives in Canada and who love winter, neither Joan nor I had ever snowshoed. I had been issued complete winter kit, including snowshoes, during my years with the Canadian Forces, but even with a deployment to the Arctic (Inuvik) at one point, and subsequently spending a short time in Tuktoyaktuk (in January), on the shore of the Arctic Ocean, there was never the opportunity to use them.

They are great!

Kasey the Dog, letting me lead.
Snowshoes have been around for about 6000 years. They were a serious matter of survival, not recreation, getting people around on the snow when winter conditions would have been impassable. The physics around snowshoes is straightforward, they simply distribute a person's weight over a greater area. There is, therefore, more snow supporting the body's weight than if one was just wearing boots. You literally "float" on the snow.

Navigating the trails (or off trail) on snowshoes, requires seemingly little energy even though caloric expenditure can be high - sounds perfect to me. 

Linda, and a peaceful winter landscape.
As a consequence of day time melting and nighttime freezing, there was a crust on the surface. Occasionally, even the snowshoes would break through to a depth of over a foot and a half. It made one realise that without snowshoes, one would break through to waist level. Without this gear, it would be virtually impossible to get back without assistance. Note to self: if ever considering a purchase of this kit, don't scrimp on quality of bindings. A failure there could mean time spent awaiting rescue.

Image, courtesy of Linda.
Heading back to the trailhead, it was clear that there had been some of the aforementioned caloric expenditure - even though we had stopped for a lunch break with adequate time and supplies to fuel up.

Sara and Linda...mid-way fuel stop.
A solution awaited at the alpine resort...yes, BeaverTails.

(Warning: Don't click on this link if you are attempting to avoid gastronomic temptation.)

And now...for a treat!
Could any over-the-top pastry treat be more "Canadian" than a maple butter BeaverTail...with a drizzle of rich chocolate?

So much for the hard-earned calorie loss!

Choices. ;)


  1. It was a great day and I do believe it deserves a repeat! Especially the Beaver tail!

    1. ESPECIALLY the's going to be tough to choose - BeaverTails, kayaking... :) Warm wishes, L.

  2. Wow, what beautiful conditions - just perfect for snowshoeing! I seriously considered a pair a couple of years ago, on the principle that one can never have too many choices of vital equipment (OK, toys!). Next winter......

    Beaver Tails - now they do look good! There must be a way to adapt the recipe for the calorific output of sea kayaking?!

    Warm wishes

  3. Ian, you are absolutely correct about the requirement for "vital equipment" for these self-propelled outdoor activities. Choices (and lots of them) are essential. :) A purpose-created BeaverTail recipe for sea kayaking? No problem, we'll bring it with us. ;) Warm wishes.

  4. Great winter scenes and the weather to go with it. I still like your style Duncan, getting the girls to go for the "Beaver Tails" while you took the photo (true Scotsman)who paid??

  5. Ah, thanks Mike. It's like you say, you can take the Scottish guy out of Scotland but you can't take Scotland out of the Scottish guy. Joan paid. ;) Warm wishes to you.