Petawawa Terrace (Non-opperating park) may be one of the smaller provincial parks in Ontario but it is vibrant and alive during every season. The lower Terrace is a 6 km hike through beaver habitats and the former fish hatchery. The 3.6 km of hiking trails in the upper Terrace twists through a red pine plantation. The upper Terrace is easy to navigate and I knew it would be the perfect place to learn how to snowshoe. My partner Rob and I have never been snowshoeing before and we enlisted the help of my future brother in-law and experienced snowshoer Travis to show us the ropes.
For my first time snowshoeing I wanted to test different equipment to see what was easier and better suited for me. Travis brought his newer set of snowshoes- these shoes were modern and light weight. I also had a borrowed pair of classic snow shoes made out of wood and hide. I decided to skip the poles and try to get my bearings with the shoes alone.
Travis warned me about breaking ground and how the one leading the pack was the most likely to fall down. It was hard to see branches and dead heads under the snow and at Petawawa Terrace there are a lot of dead heads. Two years ago a strong wind storm knocked down a large amount of the red pines that are protected in the park. As a result sawed-off tree stumps litter the woods making bushwhacking in snowshoes like an obstacle course. I tried to be the one breaking ground for most of our snowy trek- just for fun.
I started out with the classic snowshoes. For the most part they were easy to use but I did have a few issues. Issue one: reversing in the classic shoes was nearly impossible for me. However Rob was able to walk backward easily in his wooden snowshoes. I also found that since they weren’t sized perfectly to my tiny feet that two things were happening: the leather straps weren’t holding and my boot kept falling through the hole in the snowshoes. This made running in these snowshoes difficult.
The modern snowshoes were a little bit easier to walk in. My stance didn’t have to be as wide and I was able to walk backwards swiftly. I expected them to feel a lot lighter than the wooden snowshoes but they felt the same. It was easy to run in the modern shoes. My one issue with these shoes is that it is harder to walk in deep snow using the modern shoes than it is when using the classics. I did half of the 3.6 km hike in the classics and the other half in the new snowshoes.
The Winter walk
We wandered far from the trail and walked between the rows of tall red pines leaving our tracks for others to follow after us. I pushed myself to try different things- like going up and down hills, walking over stumps and branches and running through the bush. Although I did stumble forward once or twice none of us fell down. Snowshoeing was a lot easier than I thought it would be.
It was a beautiful day to fall in love with snowshoeing and I can’t wait to buy a pair of my own. Although I will be purchasing a pair of modern snowshoes to use the classic snowshoes made me feel very in touch with my Canadian self. The craftsmanship is beautiful and they are truly like a piece of art. I just may have to get two pair- one old and one new- because the classics have left snowy footprints on my heart.
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