As someone born and raised in Northern Ontario aka the epitome of the “winterest winter’s” most would assume I have put on snowshoes a time or two. NOPE.
I am the person who tries something for the first time and sprains an ankle, falls down the hill, or ends up stuck/lost. However, as I have gotten older I value new experiences more and more and figure any struggle or embarrassment is totally worth it. I absolutely love being active, especially outdoors so I recently went on a beautiful but comical snowshoe for the very first time in the gorgeous Superior Country. I can now happily report I lived to tell the tale and genuinely look forward to continuing to snowshoe with friends and family in the future.
So there I was in the beautiful snowy Greenstone, it was a mild winter day, and my family members advised that their snowshoes were in the closet (also assuming I had done it before) and left me in their wonderful Northern paradise for the weekend. They live on Wildgoose Lake and have a picturesque lakefront property. Unfortunately due to their remote northern location, their yard between the house and the lake looked like the journey Buddy the Elf takes from the North Pole to NYC. The amount of snow I was about to climb did not matter as I was excited and determined to try this winter activity. Plus I needed to improve my resume as a Northerner.
I wanted to be warm but move quickly so I chose a lighter pair of snow pants, waterproof winter boots, a warm thermal long-sleeve, an average winter jacket, mitts, a hat, and a thin neck warmer. On a sunny winter day when temperatures aren’t as cold or you are nearing spring, you could easily wear snow pants with a bib and a warm hoodie.
If you are looking for a great set of light, easy to use but affordable snowshoes, I highly recommend TNIAPO which you can purchase on Amazon. These are the pair I used while attempting to shuffle my way around the lake for the first time. I love the accessories that come with it, the poles were beneficial and have different attachments depending on your terrain and the bag is lightweight and allows you to put everything back with ease.
Most communities have winter trails, especially for snowshoeing, I would never recommend going out on an unmarked trail or on a lake you are unfamiliar with but the best part is all you need is SNOW (However I do highly recommend a location with a pretty view but totally up to you)
Superior Country has a variety of great areas to snowshoe such as Minnow Loop, Don Park Loop (Atikokan), Nordic Trail, Loch Lomand Snow Shoe Trails, Mills Block Forest (Thunder Bay), portions of the Nipigon River Recreational Trail, Deer Lake Mountain Trail, Kama Cliffs Trail (Nipigon), Nakina Snowshoe Trail (Nakina/Greenstone), portions of the Casques Isles Trail (Rossport/Schreiber, Terrace Bay), Peninsula Golf Course, Pukaskwa National Park Trails (Marathon/Heron Bay), and Northern Trails Ski Club trails (Manitouwadge) just to name a few.
OKAY. So back to my story, I now had the snowshoes in one hand, and the poles in the other, and made my way outside. I was content with the fact no one else lives out on the lake year-round as I struggled through their yard without an audience.
Just think of it as a winter obstacle course between hopping a fence, and getting over their gate that leads down to the lake because everything was frozen shut. Once I arrived at the gate I had the bright idea of putting on the snowshoes first, climbing on top of it, and thought I will just simply hop over the wooden stairs below me and land safely in the snow. This is a prime example of how I know I am clearly **maturing** as an adult because I paused with a glimpse of myself with another sprained ankle and then proceeded to take them off, and threw them over the gate. I then climbed over the gate (imagine something graceful please) and once I was safely over I sat in the snow now finally on the lake and put them back on.
The snow was falling like the opening scene from your favorite Christmas classic, the temperature was perfectly mild but crisp, it was silent but peaceful in a calming way and the view was picture-perfect.
**Casey now enters the scene stumbling like a toddler learning to walk thinking she looks like the most experienced snowshoer along the Northshore**
All jokes aside the activity itself is not difficult for beginners and is a great way to be active outside during the winter season. It allows you to explore areas with large amounts of snow or deep snow with more ease than walking. If I would have spoken to my family beforehand there was a much easier trail down to the lake than what I chose and once I got there it was great. Did I fall a few more times than I would like to admit… yes but that is on brand for me. Most people will find it easy and an incredible winter workout.
I did have the thought “ it’s almost 4 pm, there is no cell service, I am on the lake alone, and no one else lives here during the winter.” So my family arrived back home to circles and circles of snowshoe prints directly in front of their house. Overall it was such a great experience I went back out to do it again the next weekend but with their company where they showed me a much better trail to get to the waterfront. It was a warm sunny winter day and we made it almost fully across the lake and back before the sunset.
My motto for any activity including snowshoeing can always be applied to life overall, just remember to enjoy it and laugh at yourself along the way.