The snow crunches beneath the dull metal teeth on my rented MSR snowshoes. Overhead, a black thread laced with yellow bulbs illuminates our way through the evergreens. On the surrounding trees, colourful lights weave around tree trunks and dangle in glowing orbs dotted with blue, purple and teal LED lights.
I’m snowshoeing at Cypress Mountain Hollyburn Nordic Area on a brisk Thursday evening in March. Except for the scrape of my snowshoes and calm chatter with my partner, the world is quiet. After a one-hour drive from our home in southeast Vancouver, where pink cherry blossoms are beginning to dot the neighbourhood trees, we arrive on the mountain with toques and long johns to fight the impending cold.
We’re lucky: by arriving at 5:30pm, we’ve managed to get the stunning light displays along the Lights to the Lodge trail all to ourselves just as the sun sets. This unique experience offers a joyful winter alternative for those who aren’t enticed by the faster sports of downhill skiing or snowboarding. I recently cross-country skied in this same area, and even that experience had me gliding faster on two sticks than I’d expected. Snowshoeing is an enjoyable, low-risk activity; if you can walk through a forest, you can likely snowshoe.
All around us, trees blush pink and green. The lights are an ingenious addition to the snowshoe trails, making them a spectacle all on their own. We maneuver up and down a few small hills, my snowshoes digging into the narrow, ice-crusted trail as we make our way to the historic Hollyburn Lodge.
Only accessible via cross-country skis or snowshoes, the Hollyburn Lodge recently underwent a major renovation. The cozy, welcoming ski lodge ambiance is complimented with mismatched plaid chairs, polished picnic tables and an incredible outdoor seating tent complete with roaring fire pits. Sip mulled wine or hot chocolate or quell your grumbling stomach with a bacon cheeseburger and poutine.
For this adventure, I'm testing out new base layers. Kari Traa creates outdoor clothing for women, made by women. The Floke Wool Pant and Long Sleeve serve as my long johns. The 60 per cent natural wool fibres feel slightly scratchy on my sensitive skin, but the remaining balance of modal fabric impresses me—it’s biodegradable and compostable. The strategic water-repellent and ankle zippers on the Tirill Tights are ideal for a snowy adventure. Thanks to these items created by Norwegian Olympian Kari Traa, I'm warm and comfortable (and not overheating) as we explore the lights on this -1 C night.
The Lights to the Lodge experience takes us around one hour. We snowshoe close to three kilometres and spend a delightful 20 minutes warming up inside the lodge. As we march through the vibrantly lit woods back to our car, I'm struck by how lucky we are to have such beautiful natural outdoor areas so close to home.
Note: Kari Traa provided the base layers and tights to be tested. This article is not sponsored.