Hiking is incredibly fun in Vancouver, but I have been really keen to try the winter version, snowshoeing. Today, I finally had my chance! Marc, Tegan and I took a mini detour on our way home from Whistler to try snowshoeing. I had googled quite a few possibilities and had found an easy-sounding, pretty place to explore called Brandywine Falls provincial park. This is only 15 minutes drive south from Whistler, so it’s an easy stop-off on the way home.
Before we moved here, I imagined snowshoeing was something people did only out of necessity. I thought snowshoes were huge wooden frames like tennis rackets. I also thought they would be clunky and difficult to use. However it turns out that snowshoes have moved on quite a lot from the tennis-racket-style! Nowadays they are lightweight and pretty easy to walk in. So, strapping them to your feet and wandering through pretty scenery is both REALLY fun, and not too difficult.
Tegan had three(!) pairs of snowshoes, so we could all walk together. I took a picture of mine, so if you’ve never tried them, you can see what to expect. You need to wear warm socks and waterproof walking boots. They you just strap your boots into the snowshoes. The back part springs up, and the yellow section stays on the snow and helps distribute your weight over a wider area.
The Brandywine Falls are a short walk (less than 500m) from the Sea to Sky Highway. In winter, the gate to the Brandywine Falls provincial park is closed, and there is a huge pile of snow built-up in front of the gate. BUT there is a space in front of the gate which is kept clear, so you can park just in front of the gate, and climb the snow-mound to enter the park.
The hike starts by crossing a river on a pretty bridge. It then follows a wide, easy-to-follow path through the forest. There were a few tracks from other people in snowshoes, but we only saw a few other people on the walk. It was really peaceful. You could probably just about manage this walk with hiking boots rather than snowshoes, but your feet would end up pretty chilly.
There was a lovely, deep layer of fluffy, powdery snow for us to crunch through. The shoes allow you to walk/float over the snow. You sink in a teeny bit, but not too much to make walking difficult. The path through Brandywine Falls provincial park is flat so it was the perfect place for a first snowshoeing expedition.
I loved seeing the rocky boulders covered in snow. It looks a little bit like there is group of Doctor Who’s weeping angels hiding under fluffy, white blankets. Okay…maybe that was just me.
At one point you have to cross a train line.
We didn’t see any sign of any trains while we were on the tracks, but Marc saw a train with a snow plough later once we were back on the Sea to Sky highway. I thought the train track looks lovely and calm in the snow.
The next amazing view was the Brandywine Falls themselves. The canyon around the falls amplifies the sound so the roar of the water sounded amazing after the quiet of the snow-filled forest. It was gorgeous!
I also really loved the cliff full of icicles next to the Brandywine Falls.
One side of the cliffs was filled with frost-covered plants, while the trees on our side were piled up with snow. It makes it looks like all my photos are in black and white.
I really like the way that the ice near the bottom of Brandywine Falls takes on a aquamarine blue colour. It is actually pretty subtle in real life, but my camera picked it up really well.
As always, I may have taken too many photos…
We kept going slightly further than the Brandywine Falls as there was a sign saying there’d be a good view of the canyon.
A short walk later, we were rewarded with beautiful views looking back towards Whistler. Isn’t this perfect!?
Here is my perfect panorama. Just click on any of these photos if you’d like to see more details.
Then, I stopped for one more panorama of the Brandywine Falls on our way back to the car.
I tried to take a photo with my snowshoes in the air, to show you all how they work. However, I don’t recommend this! I nearly lost my balance and fell over taking the photo below. But, at least you can see how the yellow part flaps to allow your heel to move easily.
So, that was my first snowshoeing adventure through the lovely (and easy-to-explore) Brandywine Falls provincial park. It really was the perfect place to give us a taste of snowshoeing in a safe, easy environment. Now I am really keen to go out and try some more showy walks!
Have you ever tried snowshoeing? Would you be up for it now I’ve told you how fun it is?