Winterfest 2012 – Dakota Ridge – March 10, 2012

Today was “fun in the snow” day … Winterfest 2012 on Dakota Ridge. Look at all the snow! The ridge is up to a 2 meter base with 15cm just last night. It snowed off and on throughout the day and you can bet there is more falling tonight.

It still seems a little strange to live in Canada and yet hardly ever see snow. We’ve only had 1 little snow all winter this year and that was only a dusting that didn’t last more than few hours. I swept the sidewalk…no shovels necessary. So when I get the chance, I make the short 1 hour trip from Arcturus Retreat up to Dakota Ridge.

Today there were plenty of extra events…equipment demos, training clinics, and races all in support of our local Jackrabbits program (cross country ski instruction for kids). These are the brave souls awaiting the starting gun for the 5km snowshoe race.

Meanwhile, I was trying skate skiing for the first time. Our group had a very good instructor, Tyrone, who made everything look effortless. I didn’t go very far, but every once in a while I felt I was actually doing it correctly. It takes a lot of concentration to break yourself of downhill ski habits. Skate skis are only 2″ wide and only as tall as I am. Much lighter and more mobile, but good balance is very important. Your whole body is moving, whereas with downhill it is more about shifting your weight and keeping center of gravity.

My real joy is found on snowshoes. Hiking, but with really big shoes. Posing among the trees is my awesome guide, Annie. Dakota Ridge has 8km of marked snowshoe trails, but the real fun comes in breaking fresh powder. Note in the picture, there is no trail out front…just the path that we’ve created. There is something special about being the first person to walk across completely perfect, untouched snow. It is like no one has ever been in that spot because each snowfall wipes the slate clean. If you don’t have a lot of experience, it is best to have a guide like Annie who knows the terrain and watches out for tree wells, creek crossings & other danger spots. Besides, you can just stare at the gorgeous scenery instead of worrying about getting lost in the forest.

Thanks for a great day to my friends at Alpha Adventures who organized the event. Can’t wait for more fun in the snow. Just 3 more weeks to enjoy for this season!

Snow Day – Dakota Ridge, Feb 12, 2011

Today is the 1 year anniversary of the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in nearby Vancouver. I decided it was a day to find some snow. As you can see from my previous posts, we’ve had a very mild winter. Plenty of days to hike and enjoy the sun. I was ready for my snow and ski fix.

Boy did I find snow! At sea level, it was 8C, gray and raining all day. At 1,200 meters it was just below 0 and snowing like crazy! 13cm of fresh snow by this morning and it snowed all day long with huge wet snowflakes. Dakota Ridge Winter Recreation Area is our easily accessible snowpark at this end of the Sunshine Coast. Less than an hour from the house 13km of groomed cross country trails and 8km of marked snowshoe trails await.

Today my good friends at Alpha Adventures held their annual Demo Day where you can try out all the newest equipment for free. After a quick ride up to Dakota Ridge in their 4×4 van, I checked into some cross country skis and had a 30 minute introductory lesson. 30 minutes of cardio…let me tell you. It was fun…I was gliding (a little)…but its a workout. I then got to go and explore a trail for a bit to try out my new skills.

Time for a little lunch and drying off in the warming hut. Picnic tables, changing rooms and a cozy wood burning stove make this a great place for hanging out and a short rest. I always meet the most interesting people.

Now it was time to try out the snowshoes. I headed out into the forest with my 2 new friends, Annie & Jenny. I am so sorry not to have pictures, but it was REALLY snowing. I just didn’t want to get the camera wet. If you haven’t tried snowshoes, I highly recommend. It is just like going for a hike in the forest. Anyone who can walk can snowshoe.
It is so quiet when you get into the forest. So many stately huge trees and today they were all covered with a white blanket of snow. We were walking through areas with multiple feet of snow, but we usually only sank in about 3 inches. The trail is very well marked. I was in the lead and had no trouble following the trail…even though the fresh snow was filling in the footsteps of whoever had been through last. You cross over a few alpine streams, and you realize just how much snow is on the mountains. Annie was telling us about her favourite viewpoints. On a clear sunny day you can see the North Shore Mountains, Mount Baker in Washington, and Vancouver Island. I’ll definitely be back this season to try it out.
How to treat yourself after a great day of playing in the snow? On our return to Wilson Creek (access point to Dakota Ridge), I stopped in at Strait Coffee for a delicious cup of ginger carrot soup with homemade bread and a big cup of hot chocolate. Yum! When I got home, I jumped in the Arcturus Retreat B&B hot tub to relax those well excercised muscles.