Snowshoeing on the OHRT
During the summer, the Okanagan High Rim Trail offers hikers the serenity of a wilderness trail. In the winter, it comes alive with stories told through animal tracks amidst beautiful snow draped trees. The trail is a well-guarded secret and a snowshoer’s paradise. There are popular areas along the trail where the snowshoe path is kept groomed by other keen snowshoers. Those areas can be accessed from the Goudie Forest Service Road trail head and the Wrinkly Face Provincial Park area off Beaver Lake Forest Service Road.
Due to the elevation loss and gain along the trail, the trail is best suited to experienced snowshoers. Depending upon which area you choose to explore, there are steep climbs and tricky descents that challenge fitness levels and require careful navigation. Snowshoes with crampons and steel teeth lining the frame provide more stability and traction. Poles add extra stabilization and propulsion.
For the adventurous, the trail also offers an opportunity to go winter snow camping. While it is similar to its summer cousin, winter snow camping requires different gear and more planning. A sled or pulk takes the weight off your back and the extra space and weight capacity allows you to bring those extra warm clothes and blankets. A 3-season tent will suffice in our Okanagan weather but a winter tent provides extra options including controlled ventilation, insulation flaps, stronger tent poles and a more substantial floor. Your water source is all around you although it’s always a good idea to use a coffee filter to clean out any fir or pine needles or other detritus.
If you are interested in winter camping, make sure you spend some time learning about proper gear and tricks for staying warm. Or better yet, head out with a friend who has experience and can show you the ropes.
As in all cases, bring the “10 essentials” and leave a trip plan with friends or family so that others know where you are going. For more information about snowshoeing, outdoor safety and trip planning, please check out AdventureSmart at adventuresmart.ca.