Don’t let winter deter your adventure

You might think otherwise, but an outdoor lifestyle need not be compromised in the cold dark days in February.

Mount Arrowsmith as viewed from the Ducks Unlimited property in the Somass Estuary on Christmas Day.

Mount Arrowsmith as viewed from the Ducks Unlimited property in the Somass Estuary on Christmas Day.

You might think otherwise, but an outdoor lifestyle need not be compromised in the cold dark days in February. In thinking about what to write about next month, I was daunted by the how much I live in twilight and the rain. Hibernating a little I guess. But you know, it is not always like that. For instance Christmas Day was a beauty!

So really, if you are properly dressed, and have the right equipment you can have a fine time.

Maybe it’s because there was once a ski hill there, but on this part of Vancouver Island, the most popular location for winter sports are Mounts Arrowsmith and Cokely and up the Cameron Valley.  People cross-country ski, snowshoe and toboggan on the unplowed roads.

Others might choose to do their thing on skis by climbing Cokely and going down the ski-hill runs. I’ve heard of people using their sleds (snowmobiles) to get to the top.

The more adventurous might be into summitting Arrowsmith by one of several routes used in the summer. If you’re thinking about this, check out the avalanche danger before you go and be prepared for them. And the really adventurous can play in the Ice Box, with crampons, ice axes and ropes.

Now you don’t have to get all daring and everything to enjoy being out in the winter. It may not be your thing. Your idea of outdoor winter gear might be an umbrella. For you there are lowland places where the snow isn’t as deep. You can try walking the Log Train Trails, Kitsuksis Dike, or, further afield, along the paths along both Faber and Lakeshore Roads; and there are all those paths behind South Port too.

And for those somewhere in the middle there are possibilities like skating on Loon Lake during a cold snap (make sure the ice is really solid first), or doing a section of the Inlet Trail; or maybe a hike a little higher to the lookout on the Monteil Trail in the Community Forest.

Kayaking on a smooth inland fjord, or on Sproat Lake is another alternative. In contrast to the summer months, the inlet, and the valley more generally, is generally pretty calm compared to the outside coast.

Some might like the social side of the outdoors. The Alberni Valley Outdoor Club is still active in the winter. They have a Facebook page where they have posted their winter schedule. Veteran leader Rudy Brugger is to lead the next trip next Saturday up Mt. Cokely via the Rosseau Chute, either on back-country skis or snowshoes.

Club leaders like to check you out a little to make sure you are fit and capable enough, and be prepared to sign a waiver… or even join!

So as the days begin to lengthen, shake off those drowsy winter doldrums and take a snow day. You’ll feel  invigorated.

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