Last week I had the pleasure of going for a snowshoe tour of Cypress Bowl with the folks from Healthy Family Media. The snowshoe trip proved to be fun and delicious but perhaps most importantly, very educational.
I have been a bit of an “outdoorsman” most of my life. I have lived, worked, and played in BC’s wilderness areas for most of my life. I feel very much at home in the wilderness, and perhaps that is why when I go out to “play” I often forget to follow basic safety “rules”.
With that in mind, my snowshoe trip around Cypress Bowl proved to be a timely reminder of how to be prepared in case you do make a mistake.
Once our group of snowshoe trekkers had geared up and we were all ready to head out, our guide for the tour swung his backpack off his back and asked us what we thought was in it.
After all of our comical answers we’re done, he told us that he never goes out to the backcountry without “the ten essentials”.
The ten essential items are:
- A light – a headlamp is really useful because it leaves your hands free,
- A noise maker – a simple whistle. Three blasts on the whistle indicate you need help
- A fire starter – matches or even better, a lighter. Keep them in a ziplock bag with a couple tea candles. Not to set a romantic mood, but to keep you that little bit warm in case you need to spend the night on the mountain.
- A little extra for warm clothes just in case you get cold and wet; bring along an extra hat, gloves, and water/wind proof coat. Just in case!
And, always carry a pocket knife. Or two.
- If you do have to spend the night outside, a shelter is essential. Something as simple as a garbage bag or a small tarp can be the difference between life and death.
- Always carry a water bottle and some food – even high protein energy bars can help.
- A simple first aid kit.
- And navigation tools – a compass AND a map of the area you are going into. You should know how to use the compass and map!
- And finally, a communication device – a mobile phone (with a ziploc bag to keep it dry).
This may seem like a lot of gear to carry but it was remarkable how compact our guide’s backpack was. And, if you do get into difficulty, you’ll be thankful you have that pack of essential gear with you.
Knowing that our guide was fully geared up, even if we weren’t, we headed out for a moonlit walk in the woods with the Hollyburn Ski Lodge and a cheese fondue as our destination.
After a fun walk along the trails of Cypress Bowl – with one little slide on our bottoms down a little hill, we ended up at the Hollyburn Ski Camp – a picture perfect setting of winter bliss.
And here’s where I rediscovered something awesome – fondue.
Cheese and chocolate fondue!
I love chocolate and liquid chocolate to dunk sweets in? Yes please.
But ooey-gooey melted to perfection cheese? I have to admit, the cheese was unbelievably delicious.
Perhaps the best part of the cheese fondue came as a bit of a surprise to me.
As we were eating the cheese fondue I wondered who was going to have to try and get the melted cheese off the bottom of the pot.
And then we were taught about la religieuse – that cracker-like later of cheese nearly burned onto the bottom of the caquelon – the pot in which the cheese is melted.
That “burned on layer” came off the bottom and was a sort of crispy, cheese cracker. Amazing.
Once the fondue feasting was over. We put our snowshoes back on and headed to the trail back to our starting point.
And then we put our snowshoes away, jumped in our cars, and headed down the mountain and back to our homes. An awesome evening. Awesome hiking, awesome cheese. Awesome chocolate. Awesome.