When someone says “quintessential Canadian retreat,” my mind always jumps to canoeing. Not much beats the dip of a paddle, the vastness of a calm lake, the cleansing effects of a cool breeze. It’s easy to feel like hibernation season is settling in once the canoe gets pulled ashore one last time; longing for a distant warm day.
This year, as I begrudgingly stared at my upside-down canoe already collecting dust in the shed, my eyes glanced across the room. Winter came early this year, but that doesn’t mean I was ready to say goodbye to that peaceful easy feeling. It was time for a new type of retreat. It was time to strap on the snowshoes.
I am lucky enough to live in a real-life winter wonderland in Haliburton County, so as I awkwardly maneuvered my way around my backyard like a duckling learning to walk, I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of options were available for snowshoeing around the area. As I began to get the hang of one foot in front of the other, I started to realize that while canoeing was an opportunity to disconnect, snowshoeing could be my chance to reconnect. The crunch of the snow, the tactile feel of the ground beneath you, the cool air clearing your thoughts and opening your eyes to the sparkling world around you. This was the sought serenity I felt like I was saying goodbye to; little did I know, I was just getting started.
So where can you tap into this world in Haliburton County? I am not the first to make the connection between snowshoeing and a retreat from ‘reality’. This year, Yours Outdoors began offering its newest adventure: Snowga. Snowga is the blissful marriage of snowshoeing and yoga, which starts with a guided hour exploring beautiful and diverse trails at Abbey Gardens before wandering into the Abbey Retreat Centre to unwind with instructor Ky Clark of Small Town Yoga Co. in a gentle and calming practice.
If truly becoming one with nature is your cup of tea, then Walk Into Winter is for you. This 4 hour guided adventure is an opportunity to truly learn the ins & outs of snowshoeing; from a basic introduction to the style and history, to discovering the finer points of winter travel and survival, and lastly wrapping up with a tasty bush lunch prepared over a toasty campfire.
If you prefer exploring without a guide, wander out to Minden Hills to snowshoe the mighty Snowdon Park or the White Water Preserve. Snowdon offers 460 acres of wetland and forest preserve, which houses unique species that can most readily be observed through the winter months by their tracks in the snow, while the White Water Preserve features a symphony of rushing water as you wind your way along the shore.
To wrap up a day in the snow, why not unwind at the Haliburton Sculpture Forest, where you can view over 30 sculptures created by artists from around the world. The best part? You can rent your snowshoes for free from the Haliburton Museum before setting out on your artistic endeavour.
Just because the days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping, it doesn’t mean we need to stop exploring. Winter can be a time for renewal, for rejuvenation, for recharging. So take this time to connect with yourself, your surroundings, your intentions, and if the snowshoe fits, you just have to focus on putting one foot in front of the other.