What is there to love about trudging around a mountain forest waist-deep in snow? Everything, if you’ve got snowshoes on your feet. The winter has a way of keeping a lot of people indoors, safe and sound, free from the discomfort of wetness and cold.

Personally, the rain makes it hard for me to want to do anything outside, but the snow is different—wonderful, even. Who doesn’t look toward the mountains and wonder what it’s like to be up there in the snow surrounded by trees?

There is so much to see and feel out there during the winter, but it can be easy to crush our natural curiosity to explore a winter wonderland by coughing up the cash for an expensive lift ticket. Then you have the cost of a lesson, rentals, accommodation, and après-poutine—instead, why not consider an alternative winter activity that could change everything you think and feel about winter.

A half-day stomp around on snowshoes could be what you’re looking for. It may open your eyes to the natural beauty and contrast of forest in winter. During your walk, it is likely that you will sweat, your sunglasses will fog, you’ll take your toque off more than once, and you’ll find yourself laying in a childlike snow-angel somewhere along the trail. What’s even more interesting are the thoughts and feelings that will come naturally from being in such a calm and relaxing setting —opposite to what a majority of us live in day to day.

Outdoor Recreation has been sharing this experience with students all winter along trails at Forbidden Plateau and Mount Washington. It’s been amazing to watch the students’ fully embrace the winter elements and take in the sights and sounds. There have been many repeat students as well, which tells us that Outdoor Recreation is not only providing quality outdoor activities for students, but creating ideal opportunities for students to form their own connections with winter activity and nature.

Snowshoeing is simple and exhilarating, yet rhythmic and meditative. It’s just you, the snow, the forest, your breath (maybe your heart-beat), and your thoughts. Even when travelling with a loud, extremely stoked group of friends, you can find the time to make it your own.

Many people are surprised at how efficient snow travel is while wearing their snowshoes. You can go for days if you have the gear and the spirit, but here at VIU we go from 8 a.m.–3 p.m. with a cozy lunch break, round-trip transportation and excellent trip leaders to guide the way.

Mar. 10 is the last trip of the season, but the snow stays around long after. Imagine trudging around in your shorts and a T-shirt with snowshoes on in April.