The blizzard arrives just in time to coat the great outdoors with snow for the weekend. Our snowshoe outing will have the extra challenge of breaking trail. We are going where no man has gone before, or at least where no one has been since the freshly fallen snow has erased the trail. Our intent is to make a loop through the forest to return to our starting point.
Bright pink ribbons clearly mark the trailhead. Perfect! This should be easy. The unmarred snow conceals hazardous branches, holes, and rocks, and we must scrutinize every suspicious formation prior to stepping forward. The forest is resplendent; what is not swathed in snow is crystallized with ice. For the most part the trail weaves its way in an obvious way, but sometimes our attention wavers and we lose sight of the markers. We must then double back to retrace our steps or go off on a tangent to reach a different one.
At a set of waterfront cottages, we turn left towards the next marker and come upon an unploughed maintenance road.From here our direction is unclear but going to the right seems the sensible choice. A pink ribbon sighting directs me back into the forest, but doubt begins to surface when we are soon surrounded by a multitude of sap lines going every which way, to say nothing of the bright ribbons beckoning us from not one, but three different directions. Somehow, we have gone from searching for elusive ribbons to being overwhelmed by their sheer number. Colour-me confused!It seems implausible that the trail would have us high jumping or ducking under sap lines. It is more likely that we have wandered into a maple bush that just happens to have identical ribbons to those of the snowshoe trail.
We have a couple of choices at this point: retrace our steps to pinpoint where we went astray or aim for the cottages and follow the shore to locate the next section of trail. We choose the latter, the shorter of the options. We follow a fence line until we come to another snowy road.
I become convinced that our inadvertent escapade is now taking a turn for the better; although still not on the trail, we seem to be on the right track. Eureka! I have spotted a lone ribbon on a tree, and it looks promising. Joyfully, I inform the others of my discovery. Despite the absence of markers, the wider smoother area is a clear pathway as confirmed by the footbridge a short distance away. Now, we can relax a little, breathe in the crisp air, and enjoy our final leg.
Voices and whiffs of smoke alert us of our arrival before we emerge from the forest into a clearing, where we find other outdoor enthusiasts warming themselves by the firepit. Our trail-breaking abilities may be flawed, but in the end, we found our way and had a blast while doing it. We will be ready to tackle the next snowstorm aftermath with polished ribbon-tracking skills.
For more information about the Cornwall Outdoor Club, visit our website at www.cornwalloutdoorclub.ca or follow us on Facebook