As I sit in Epsom Salt infused bath water soaking the soreness out of my hips, I am reflecting back on today’s snowshoe hike in the Julian Lake area. “Where’s Julian Lake?”, you ask. I hadn’t heard of Julian Lake either until I came across this snowshoe hike in the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association newsletter.
The trailhead is on Julian Lake Road, north-east of Burleigh Falls, Ontario, sandwiched between Julian Lake and Big Cedar Lake. Is Burleigh Falls not ringing a bell? It’s north-east of Peterborough. Drop these GPS coordinates (44.598928,-78.159196) into Google Maps to take a look.
Our trail today was a figure eight loop, about 6 km in length. Marked with blue and yellow trail tape by a cottager in the area who was once an avid hiker in his younger days, this unnamed trail is simply gorgeous. At times the trail was difficult to find, so we’d made our own trail. And that to me is the most exciting kind of hiking — not really knowing where you’re going.
This was my first snowshoe outing of the year and I’d forgotten how much more energy is required to lift my legs higher to clear the thick snow. The extra lifting began to irritate my hips towards the end of the hike. The pace was faster than I usually enjoy, as I like to take the trail a slower observe the things around me.
The snow covered forest was both serene and exciting as we trekked our way through it. The small valleys had a calm, blanketing sensation as we made our way through them. Towards the end of the hike, where many animal tracks crossed our trail, the possibility, as remote as it was with all the noise we made, of seeing wildlife had me looking left and right in hope.
My favorite experience of the hike was crossing a swamp. There is a serenity about swamps that in the summer can only be observed from the edge. In winter you can get out in the middle of it.
After stopping for a quick lunch on the side of the trail I found myself quite tired. This is one of the downsides of taking a break. A one to three minute pause while I grab a bite and wash it down with some water is more to my liking.
As with the ice storm we experienced recently, the deep snow, as beautiful as it is to look at and experience, can be treacherous. Catching your snowshoes on a buried branch or small log; slipping down hills; falling through the top portion of a small cavity when the snow gives way, can lead to injury. Our group had a couple of slips and falls but nothing to note. Move at a comfortable pace, have fun and you’ll be OK.
As we traveled the trail, descended hills, ascended hills and often avoiding walking into tree branches with our faces, I noticed that I was the only one in the group without trekking poles. I queried a few of my companions on the merits of trekking poles. Stability, exercising their arms and especially useful for getting up inclines were their major selling points. I’ve never seen the need for them. I like to keep my hands free to snap pictures; write notes or to quench my thirst, without stopping. But I think I will try them next time I’m out snowshoeing.
Take the poll below: Trekking poles or no trekking poles?
Once we returned to the trailhead, my GPS indicated that we had traveled 128 km in the few hours we were snowshoeing. I think the cold had a detrimental affect on it. I will have to look into why it’s not working properly. “How far did we go?”, I asked V. who had a functioning GPS. “Five kilometers”, he told me. “Are you kidding me!?” My body felt like it had burned off 15 km worth of hiking. Snowshoeing is hard work and a good workout.
But back at the tub: With my eyes closed; my hips are feeling better; I’m dreaming of my next outing.
See more photographs of today’s adventure.