Snowshoe adventures at Cypress Mountain and Mount Seymour

Hiking in a snow covered forest. Sounds easy enough, right? It probably is if you’re either Canadian or well informed on the best methods. Until recent, Tanja and I were neither.

Five years ago, the two of us moved from Belgian to Vancouver. Weather-wise it hardly made a difference, as long as we stayed within the city limits. Belgium and Vancouver have mild, wet Winters with hardly any snow. And if the latter happens, hang on tight, because those few centimeters of frozen water mean snowpocalypse in both places. But I digress.

When Tanja and I had arrived in Vancouver, one of the very first items we bought were skis. In Belgium, skiing used to be a luxurious, once-a-year experience that involved driving to the Alps in Switzerland, Austria or France. And since it was such a rare event we’d rent our skis. In Vancouver on the other hand it’s a matter of driving up one of the mountains in your backyard. So as soon as we got here, we excitedly bought our own set of boots and skis.

Whenever skiing on the slopes, I’d see signs announcing snowshoeing, and remember thinking: “What’s so special about that?” It seemed so ordinary compared to the thrill of flying down the slopes. Little did I know. Call it the ‘old, Belgian Jelger’. 

In the Summers I got a taste of another local hobby. It took me a while to get my feet wet and a couple more years until it stuck, but eventually it got under my skin: hiking. I don’t know whether it was Canada or British Columbia’s stunning nature, but it worked.

These days, I love a good hike. And whenever Spring comes around, Tanja and I can’t wait to get back to our adventure hikes. Which are some of the best stress remedies available by the way! Unfortunately, as much as I love the hikes, they are a seasonal thing. You can’t really hike on top of a couple of feet of snow (without expensive snowshoes). Or can you…

That’s what Tanja and I thought a year ago. So we decided to give it a try. Courageously, we grabbed our hiking boots, and sped up Mount Seymour. We were convinced we didn’t need any snowshoes! You can probably guess that our good intentions were not enough to keep us afloat. For a good 2 hours we plowed through the snow, only to realize we were less than halfway down the (ungroomed) trail. We’d learned our lesson.

Another year went by. And we enjoyed a lot of Summer hikes, but then Winter came back. And because skiing isn’t the same as experiencing nature, it left me feeling locked up inside. Sure there’s parks in the Lower Mainland that are doable in Winter. And we tried a lot of them. Tanja even wrote a blogpost about them here.

However, two months ago, a few of our Belgian friends (most of them with Canadian partners) invited us along on a snowshoe hike. “Why not?” we thought and picked up some rentals at MEC. I didn’t have a clue on what to expect, but hey, at least it was worth a try.

It was December 24, and because of my (half) German background, Christmas Eve is more important to me than Christmas day. I’m always a sucker for Christmassy things, and this was definitely a winner. The Winter landscape on Mount Seymour and the snow-laden pine trees were wonderful. And that was before I’d put my snowshoes on!

As soon as our group shuffled along the snowshoe trail, I felt excited to be out in nature again. Of course, having good company helped too. Especially when one of our friends shared a thermos with hot coffee at the top of the mountain.

I am a convert. I was wrong, Canada, and I’m sorry. Snowshoeing is awesome. A couple of days after that hike, Tanja and I bought a great set of snowshoes. And a thermos.

Bring on the Winter hikes!

PS: We would love to do an engagement shoot during a snowshoe hike. Get in touch if you feel up for it!

Cypress Mountain: Black Mountain snowshoe trail

Mount Cypress Hollyburn snowshoe trail

Mount Seymour Dog Mountain snowshoe trail