If it’s daytime, you might get lucky and spot a bison plowing through the snow; at night, there’s the prospect of northern lights.
In moments like these, exploring the great white expanse of Elk Island National Park on a pair of snowshoes, winter’s profound essence hits you suddenly and unsuspectingly.
“I’ve had people rent snowshoes figuring they’ll only be out for an hour, and they return three hours later,” says Priscilla Haskin, owner/operator of Haskin Canoe. “It’s great to see them come back, red-cheeked, having a good time discovering something new.”
Haskin rented snowshoes on a trial basis at Elk Island last year, but this year is the first year they will be offering guided tours and special events throughout the season. Think of it as a paddle in the snow, offering the same beauty, solitude and peacefulness of the popular summer past time.
From there, however, snowshoeing is a total departure. “Sometimes it fogs in and you just see the ghost silhouettes of snowy trees,” says Haskin. “Woodpeckers might come out and if we’re lucky, maybe bison, elk, and from a distance, coyote or owl.”
Even on cold days, you can stay warm by moving, picking the right trails (“there can be a 10-degree difference between the shoreline and the trees,” says Haskin) and having good nourishment. On guided trips, ranging around two hours with a rest stop halfway, Haskin offers regionally sourced bison pemmican, local honey, and her own homemade-on-the-trail maple toffee. She also plans to host full moon tours and bonfire evenings.
For more information about snowshoeing in and around Edmonton, visit exploreedmonton.com/things-to-do/Snowshoeing.