Dakota Ridge – December 14, 2012

It may be another week until the official start of winter, but today we enjoyed our first day of fun in the snow.    Saturday, December 15 is the official season opening for Dakota Ridge Winter Recreation Area.  Our good friends at Alpha Adventures took us out for a sneak peak & guided snowshoe tour.
15km Nordic ski trails
All trails have been named this year
It was an AMAZING day!  You couldn’t ask for better weather conditions.  It is early in the season, but new snowfall was 50cm (that’s 20 inches) in the past 24 hours. The clouds broke overnight and the sun was shining this morning. Temps were just around the freezing level.  We were warm after a bit of hiking and the snow on the trees was just melting a bit in direct sunshine. A perfect bluebird day.
Knee deep in fresh powder!

Dakota Ridge has almost 4km of groomed snowshoe trails and another 3km of wilderness trails. With our expert guides, we were able to get off the beaten path (though in all that powder…not so beaten) and break fresh tracks through the forest. The forest is magical….so very quiet. Snow makes the most interesting shapes covering varied terrain, small trees, and moved by the wind. It was a bit like a Dr Seuss picture with rounded magical shapes.

Our expert guides Jamie & Lauren

Alpha Adventures offers guided trips and lessons for both cross country skiing and snowshoeing. They also operate a convenient shuttle from Wilson Creek up the mountain roads to Dakota Ridge. The access road is much improved this year thanks to a provincial grant.  The road is wider and has more pullouts, but it still requires chains or 4×4.  My little VW isn’t making that trip, so I am more than happy to ride in Alpha’s comfortable shuttle.  The parking lot has doubled in size, so there is more room for everyone making the trip.

We hiked quite a distance without seeing another sole…partly because this was the day before opening day, but these trails are never crowded.  Plenty of room to get away from it all and just enjoy exploring on your own.  Coming down over the Eastern trails, we found the most amazing view. We could see the North Shore Mountains, including Cypress and The Lions. There were low level clouds & fog blocking the view of the ocean, but we were so far above the thick clouds that they looked like a big fluffy ocean.

What a view! Mt Elphinstone in the background

It was the perfect spot to stop, take a few pictures and have a snack. Just an amazing 360 degree view.

After a full day of snowshoeing we stopped in the warming hut for lunch and hot chocolate. A much needed rest at the end of a great day. I can’t wait to get back up on Dakota Ridge…thinking a great way to spend Christmas Day.

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