Friday • January 31, 2014
The intricate crystals glisten on the snow’s surface as we listen to Lee-Anne explain the different snowflake formations.
Looking through the forest, spotting tiny animal tracks, our knowledgeable and passionate guide for the day points out a mouse track with what appears to be Lynx footprints hot in pursuit. It is amazing what a keen eye and a wealth of knowledge allows you to see.
We are walking with ease in this snowy environment thanks to the snowshoes that are strapped to our feet. The rhythmic crunch of our steps is the only noise as we meander through the beautiful Mount Fernie Provincial Park forest.
Just minutes from Fernie, the 259 hectare park is an important wildlife corridor. Today we are lucky enough to have Wild Nature Tours take us on a snowshoeing adventure to explore what the park has on offer.
Spending time in the park over the warmer months I was initially expecting this trip to be less of a discovery experience and more a fun afternoon of exercise on snowshoes. How wrong I was!
Not because this wasn’t a great way to spend the afternoon walking in snowshoes but because of how different the park and its surrounds appear in winter!
It is a completely different experience to be here in winter, and to have the amazing knowledge of Lee-Anne; a perfectly still snow blanketed forest comes to life with a hive of activity that I would have never noticed.
“This moose track must be from a big bull! You can see from the size of its leg holes in the snow as it was grazing on the tree over there,” explains Lee-Anne.
I stick my walking pole down into the deep hole the moose has left behind and the handle quickly drops below the top of the snowpack. Leaving no trace of disturbance on the snow other than these huge holes and some broken branches. It is exciting to imagine the size of this moose as it trudges around the park looking for its next meal.
Winter provides a challenging environment for the animals that call this park home. Spotting an old tree trunk, we are told how this would be an important nature tree for many animals in the park. As Lee-Ann points out bear claw marks on the lower trunk a small Pine Marten pokes its head out from above to check on what the ruckus is all about. Interested to see the six of us starring back up at him, the Marten doesn’t seem too concerned with our presence and keeps a close eye on us as we walk away to leave him in peace.
As I have now discovered, snowshoeing is a great way for everyone to experience the winter environment on foot. Wild Nature Tours offer a perfect balance of a great snowshoeing experience with a really interesting and informative narrative. Not only was it a good experience and introduction to the world of snowshoeing, you are also giving back to this amazing area. Wild Nature Tours are a non-profit organization with volunteer guides, meaning all the money raised from these tours goes straight back into the preservation of the surrounding areas.
For a unique winter experience that can be shared by the whole family, these guided snowshoe tours cannot be missed!
Jack Viney – Tourism Fernie