Winter In Canada

It’s not a secret that I’m not overly fond of winter.

While I love all our seasons, I often think of winter as a bully who hogs too much of the Canadian calendar.


Right about the end of January I start to get a little restless even though many weeks of winter are still ahead of us. So for the past couple of years, I have been trying to adopt a more “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude.

In the spirit of trying to embrace winter, this week I participated in my first multi-day outing with the Seniors’ Club.

Four amazing ladies from the Seniors For Nature Outdoor Club

Five of us headed up to Arrowhead Provincial Park about 2 hours north of Toronto for some cross-country skiing, skating, and snowshoeing. It all sounded so ‘doable’ …. until the snow started.

…. and wouldn’t stop.

While all my instincts were screaming at me to stay home, I endured a 3 hour, white-knuckle drive to arrive at a winter wonderland.

The five of us stayed in a tiny single-room cabin that thankfully had heat and power – but no water.

We had an unheated outhouse at the end of our lane and a ‘comfort’ station some distance away. I am not an experienced camper in any season so the 3 am ‘call of nature’ into the freezing temperatures of a January night was a bit disconcerting.

Our little cabin in the woods. Those big globs are falling snowflakes that the camera has exaggerated. Any tips on how to take photos outdoors while it’s snowing would be greatly appreciated.

Ultimately I decided not to try cross-country skiing and spent my energy on the 1.6 km (1 mile) skating trail.

Yes – these 2 women are pushing a baby stroller while skating.

In the heavily falling snow, it was breathtakingly beautiful although the skating itself was a challenge as the snow accumulated.

This little guy skating with his dad smoked me on the trail.
Speaking of smoke, it finally stopped snowing, the snow was cleared, the Zamboni was brought out to ice the trail, and the fire pits were burning.

I might never become enamoured with winter, but maybe next time I’ll actually try the cross-country skiing.


97 comments

  1. I grew up on skis, but had little experience with cross-country skiing until I moved to the prairies in my twenties. Because there are no ski hills on the prairies, I invested in X-C equipment. However, I confess that I didn’t quite get the concept – I used to drive a long way to find the hilliest possible X-C trails (Qu’appelle Valley; Cypress Hills). I still love both downhill and Nordic skiing. In fact, last week when we had our little dump of Island snow, there was actually enough snow in my neighbourhood to go out cross-country skiing a couple of times. Joanne, youshould try it!!

    Jude

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  2. Sounds like a very interesting trip. I would have had to build some sort of contraption to melt the snow and provide water for myself. There is roughing it, but I would have engineered solution. Gotta have some warm water. Maybe heat up some stones, and then places stones in metal tub to heat up water.

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  3. Very beautiful, picturesque photos, Joanne! I am impressed with five women staying in a single room cabin and the outdoor outhouse. I used to live in Northern BC and the Yukon and by January, Cabin Fever is a real thing. I am done with Winter. You are inspirational, Joanne, when you continue to put one foot in front of the other and continue with your adventures!

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    • I was quite nervous about this arrangement, but in the spirit of adventure, it was actually a lot of fun. I’m confident that a few days of this would have been WAY too much! πŸ™‚

      I think the worst part of winter is still ahead of us – March. That’s when I start to get really squirrelly.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. See, now to me, that looks positively idyllic! A wonderful way to spend time! Ooh la la — right up to walking out of doors in the bitter cold and dark night to pee. In the summer, I’ll take the dog out before I pee, but in the winter, NO WAY, lol!
    (I love winter, but I must agree with you that your winters are too long. I don’t think I could handle it. I get a lil antsy in March, ready for the change.)

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  5. Aaaaa, Crazy Canucks! πŸ˜€ (Isn’t this how they called your skiers back in the day? Especially downhill? I admit that Ken Read was my crush.) Baby stroller + skating in the snow with minus who knows how much?? You are soooo badass! What’s a freezing bathroom break in the middle of the night for you! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ Seriously though, I’m glad you like winters a bit more now. I don’t see how after all this! Must be the smoke from barbecue! πŸ˜‰

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  6. winter wonderland for sure – but oh wow – the bathroom walk is just wrong. ha
    and I love the smoke photo how it has the blue and then it seems to go towards the center. Really unique shot – but now I feel like I want some hot cocoa
    πŸ˜‰

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  7. We used to love to cross country ski with the kids (because we were too poor to outfit the family and go downhill skiing…) We did eventually all become down hill skiers too, but our preferred winter activity now is to pack up the car and … head south!

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    • hehehe – priorities change πŸ˜‰

      We cross country skied ‘before children’ but I’ve never downhill skied. I was thinking that I’d like to try someday but I’m starting to appreciate that perhaps that train has left the station πŸ˜‰

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    • Sometimes I wonder if it’s really bravery … or simply crazy πŸ˜‰
      I must say though that these ladies at the Seniors’ Outdoor Club I belong to really inspire me to keep moving. Their energy and enthusiasm is contagious.

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  8. Good for you for braving the blizzard and enjoying winter! We have a skating trail north of Ottawa (in Quebec) which I will try sometime this winter when the roads are better. What a storm we had this week! Your skating skills clearly have improved.

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    • I was actually a lot more confident on my skates this time around. I wondered if it was because this trail was wide, long and straight with gentle curves. I didn’t have to worry about other skaters hitting me or trying to maneuver around corners.

      We got another blanket of snow last night – what the weather forecasters are calling a ‘pre-snow’ in advance of a storm that is supposed to hit us later tomorrow and overnight into Tuesday. I’m hoping the organizer of our Seniors’ outing on Tuesday will cancel. I don’t relish the thought of another commute in a winter storm πŸ˜•

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, Joanne, that looked beautiful up there! I’d say it was definitely worth the drive. The cabin is luxury camping compared to camping on Kili!

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  10. All I can say is “Wow” You Canadian Seniors really go full out don’t you! I’d have been terrified driving in that kind of weather, never mind semi camping once I got there. I must admit I do like it when you have proper snow like that – not the grey slushy stuff that we get here – and getting out in it can be rather nice and refreshing, getting frozen fingers and red cheeks and then warming up afterwards. However, having no indoor loo would be a big no no for me. I have trekked outdoors in the night in an African desert, avoiding scorpions and sand spiders, but the thought of opening that door…. definitely not!!

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    • These women I was ‘camping’ with make me look like a powder puff. They really kick-ass. It is said that we become like the company we keep. I could be so lucky to develop their resilience and enthusiasm for life!

      I know what you mean about the grey slushy mess. I hate that version of snow too. But when it’s cold and the snow crunches under your feet, it’s rather nice.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s not the ice-hotel but hey, this place still looks awesome! The only unpleasant part is the late-night trudge through the cold for the inevitable-at-our-age bathroom break. That skating trail looks like a lot of fun too. There are a few places like that not too far from us that we keep meaning to check out.

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    • This is not something I would normally sign up for. I admit I looked longingly at the motels I passed a few kilometres away from the park. However, now that I’ve done it, I’m rather proud of myself πŸ™‚

      For today at least, I’ve modified my definition of luxury πŸ˜‰ Indoor plumbing is at the top of that list!!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. It looks like a great place to enjoy some winter activity. I’m impressed that you chose skating. Wasn’t it just a bit ago that you were scared of doing that? The pictures are lovely. The inside shot of the cabin looks pretty sweet.

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    • The reason why I was interested in this trip was because of the skating trail. I had read about it and it sounded so cool. I’m actually glad I had a chance to go. I wondered if I was going to be to skate the entire loop and in fact I managed 2 loops.
      I discovered that the length of the trail combined with gradual curves made it much easier for a newbie skater like me. I wasn’t so worried about trying to maneuver the corners.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I like enjoying the views of snow…from afar. A “join ’em” attitude is a great one to take. I need to get better at embracing that one. I wouldn’t enjoy trips to the outhouse in the middle of the freezing nice, but it does look like a fun getaway. πŸ™‚

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    • There was a time in my life I would have said ‘hell, no’ … ask my sons. They’ll vouch for me πŸ˜‰

      But blogging has really affected my attitude towards life. That might sound a little dramatic, but it’s true. Now everything is a potential story … even trips to the outhouse during a freezing January night πŸ™‚

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  14. It looks so magical and beautiful!

    They worst part about camping is the middle of the night potty wake up. Having to dress and put on shoes and go out in the dark and sometimes cold to go is the pits so I understand how you felt about that, but it sounds like loads of fun despite no indoor plumbing.

    I love you snow blobs in the photo.

    He-Man and I are planning to take cross country skiing lessons once we’ve moved since we’ll be closer to the snow. I would like to do more snowshoeing too.

    If you can’t beat it might as well have some fun right.

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    • I think if I was closer to places to ski, I would take it more seriously. I’m just not a fan of getting involved in a sport that involves lots of driving in winter conditions.
      When I did cross-country years ago before children, I enjoyed it. Dressing properly is 80% of the battle πŸ™‚

      I’m glad that people are finding the snow globs interesting. I thought they were annoying and in some photos, they look like alien life forms 😏

      Liked by 1 person

      • Friends I have been traveling and doing photography with for years and I went on a Winter trip to Yosemite one year and it was snowing on day two. We stopped by the chapel to photograph it and one of my friends just hated his images because of the snow globs, but I’ve always loved all our images from that stop. Many months later he confessed that the snow globs had grown on him and he posted his image …finally! I hope they grow on you too. It was a moment in time that won’t be again except in the that image. xx

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  15. That actually looks kind of fun, Joanne. Maybe not white-knuckled driving and the midnight trip to the outhouse, but otherwise… I’m so glad you’re giving winter a gung-ho try. Nothing like good food, good company, and lots of snowflakes!

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  16. Two words: chamber pot. LOL!
    All kidding aside, I used to love x-country skiing and would like to do it again someday. I think you would enjoy it, Joanne! Your winter getaway, despite the snow storm and lack of running water, looks like it was fun and beautiful.

    Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was beautiful, Deb. If you’re going to go away for a few days of winter fun, these were the ideal conditions.
      I used to ski BC (before children), but that was a very long time ago. I am regretting a little bit that I didn’t make more of an effort to try.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Preamble: I hate winter, I hate to be cold, and I am terrified to drive in snowstorms (even after doing it for decades). BUT: I love ice skating, and that skating path looked like the coolest pace to skate I’ve ever seen! I would handle all of my dislikes just to see and skate on that path. Also, the cabin appeals to me in its solitude and simplicity. Finally, I like the snow blobs in your photo!

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    • Thanks 😁
      The skating trail was the prime reason why I wanted to go on this trip. It sounded like the coolest thing ever and with the snow, it was magical. My only regret is that I’m not a much better skater. I think I would have enjoyed it that much more.
      I think I’m going to have to convince my husband to take a trip up with me one day to skate. He likes skating, he’s good at it, and I think he’d really enjoy this too.
      … however I don’t think I’ll suggest a cabin in the woods πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Good for you for trying to embrace winter. I’m with you in disliking it. I’m not sure I could have made a 3 hour drive either. Sounds scary but I must say, it all made for the most beautiful photos. I love the β€œglobs” of snow so I hope you don’t learn to fix them. Looks like it was an amazing experience

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  19. I know that the snow can create white knuckle driving conditions but there is nothing more beautiful than the scene mother nature creates when the snow settles onto the trees & the landscape. Dressed properly & with the right equipment, it is exhilarating to get out & enjoy the fresh air in winter. I love that you fully embraced this experience, including staying in a cabin with an outhouse in the cold! Makes one do their business rather quickly!

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    • hahaha! Let’s just say there’s no loitering! … not to mention putting it off and putting it off for a long as possible 🀣
      These ladies are made of tough stuff. I felt like a powder puff in comparison! They say we become like the company we keep. I hope that’s true! It would be a huge compliment to become more like these women!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Oh Joanne! The cold seat at 3 am!!! LOL! We love the outdoors, and the snow is beautiful, but not for us anymore. I lived in NE all my life and have had my share of storms, shovels, and freezes. I have to say I do NOT miss it. I applaud your brave, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” attitude!

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    • I really do like my creature comforts. Being able to stumble half-asleep into a heated bathroom is pretty well at the top of the list.
      A very close second is a good cup of hot coffee in the morning!

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  21. I think I could endure all but the outhouse. I used to cross country ski in my youth, it was really great exercise. Cheers to you for your bravery. I’m not fond of winter either, but you might as well embrace it, because it will be there whether you want it or not.

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    • Isn’t that the truth!! … complaining about winter doesn’t seem to resolve anything 😏
      The whole outhouse thing rather unnerved me, but it’s quite remarkable how resilient and adaptable we can be.

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  22. Its all fun and games until you have to sit on a cold outhouse seat πŸ˜€ Who the hell are you ? πŸ˜€ Seriously it looks like a beautiful time though.

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    • I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it’s been since I got home. I can use heated facilities without having to don snow-boots, a heavy coat, and trudge through snow to get there!!

      btw – my husband and sons have been asking the same question. This person I’m becoming as I age is full of surprises πŸ˜‰

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  23. Joanne, you really amaze me. I am whining because there is frost on the ground and I have to drive to work in this stuff. And scrape my windshield–in sunny Florida! Can you see me in a snowed-in cabin with an outhouse? Bahahaha! Yeah. No.

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  24. I think you’d really like cross country skiing. When I was teaching I went with the kids every year and I loved it and last year I took a bus with a group that goes all winter. My friend was a member and I went as her guest. I had a lot of fun.

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  25. Beautiful photos + interesting story that make me realize that I’d never, ever, ever, ever do what you did. I consider a hotel without room service to be roughing it, so a cabin without running water sounds barbaric to me. I’m glad you survived your ordeal and made it home safely. Oy vey!

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      • hahahaha!!
        In spite of all my anxieties about this winter ‘camp’, the worst – by far – was not having a good cup of hot coffee in the morning. We had serious issues trying to make coffee. In the future, I’m always going to pack my French press just in case!

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  26. What a grand adventure Joanne. I’m not sure I would be too keen on the middle of night walk in the woods in winter but bravo to you. We just tried. Ross country skiing last week and it was fabulous. Well other than I seemed to have difficulty walking the next day. πŸ™‚

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  27. Believe it or not, I feel envious. It’s been many years since I’ve been in snow like that. And I like the big globs of snowflakes in your photo, so my tip is to keep doing what you’re doing. Looks beautiful.

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  28. You really are an inspiration! I love how you Just Do It! I didn’t know that “skating trails” existed before you’ve mentioned them in a few posts and they really look like fun. Maybe this is a stupid question (from someone who lives in a city where it doesn’t snow) but what’s the difference between an Outhouse and a Comfort Station?

    Liked by 1 person

    • hahaha – not being a camper, I’ve learned something new! Comfort stations are heated, have running water, toilets, and showers. It was a bit of a walk away but a welcome addition πŸ™‚

      This is the closest I’m ever going to get to real winter camping. Having a warm little cabin to sleep in was the best … plus drying out our very wet clothes.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Good for you to join the winter with the snow bunnies. How can you not enjoy this beautiful scenery is beyond me. I don’t blame you about the outhouse, maybe next time, bring a chamber potty or go rustic, a bucket inside the cabin.

    Gosh, those flakes are humongous. I wish we have snow in Vancouver.

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  30. Well done, Joanne! Love it that you pushed yourself outside your comfort zone – waaaay outside by the looks of it. It looks amazing. I know it’s different when you have to live with it every winter but boy, if I knew how to jump into a photo (Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins style), I’d do it in a heartbeat.

    Oh, and let me give you my extensive tips on taking photographs when it’s snowing:

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    • HAHAHAHA!!! Thank you for your extensive list of photography tips 🀣

      I know what you mean about wishing you could pop into a photo for a while. That will be me looking at photos of tropical destinations in another month of winter!

      Liked by 1 person

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