If you fancy a break from skiing and snowboarding during your stay at Nita Lake Lodge, you might want to try something a bit more leisurely like winter hiking in Whistler. Short walks and long trails abound in the area.
Alexander Falls and Brandywine Falls are both close by (less than 20 minutes drive) and you only have to walk a short distance to be rewarded with some pretty spectacular views. Further away you could head to Joffre Lakes which is about an hour’s drive and offers longer hikes (in the region of 10km), mountain-top views and glaciers.
But before you strap on those snowshoes, check out these top tips to stay safe, warm and in good spirits!
Watch Your Calories (Take Snacks!)
It’s always important that you bring food with you when you go winter hiking in Whistler. However, you need to pay even closer attention to your caloric needs in the winter because the cold places your body under greater pressure.
Even if you’re just heading out for a short walk, it’s worth filling your pockets with some treats. Obviously, if you are going on a longer trail, you want to plan properly. Your body consumes twice as many calories a day when outdoors in the wintertime so it’s a pretty serious business.
Avoid taking fresh foods; not only do they contain water (making them more likely to freeze) but they’ll also be heavier. Instead think about high sugar, high-fat snacks. Oat-based options are good, as are chocolate bars. Protein bars are also a great option.
If you’re worried about your waistline, rest assured this is what the experts recommend for your own safety!
Dress in Layers
This should be somewhat obvious, but it’s important that you bring plenty of warm clothes and have a plan in case your clothes happen to get wet. Bring along a midweight base layer, fleece pants, and waterproofs. You will also need accessories like socks, gloves, hats, and sunglasses.
Not to be alarmist but frostbite and hypothermia are legitimate concerns when you start talking about winter hiking in Whistler. As unlikely as it is that anything will go wrong, make sure you have a plan in place to prevent it from happening. Choose the right clothing and carrying some spares is a good idea. Not sure what to pack? Check out this packing list for winter in Whistler.
Don’t forget the power of ventilation, too. You’ll get hot when on the move and cool down rapidly when you stop. If you have underarm zippers on your jacket, for example, you will be able to ventilate if you get sweaty without constantly adding and removing layers.
Take Some Shelter
It’s always worth having a survival tarp with you whenever you’re out winter hiking in Whistler. It’s a good hedge against anything going wrong. But you don’t need an emergency for an excuse to use it! Hiking doesn’t have to be all about being on the move. In fact, we quite often hike so we can enjoy being in places we wouldn’t otherwise get to.
Stopping, resting, soaking in the atmosphere is all part of the experience.
And that’s where rigging a tarp can make things just a bit more comfortable. It can protect you from precipitation. It can block the wind. You’d be amazed at how much heat it can stop escaping… Add a small camping heater and a stove into the mix and you can basically set up your own living room outdoors with a mountain range in place of your TV!
Start Early & Finish Early
Winter days are shorter than summer days. Winter trails are slower going than summer trails. Winter weather is harsher than summer weather.
Again, not wanting to put you off! But it’s important to be realistic about what you can achieve in a day when winter hiking in Whistler. Everything is just a little bit tougher so making the most of the day by starting as the sun is rising will give you the best chance of maximizing your enjoyment.
Even if you’re in tip-top condition, plan on covering 2-3km an hour over a snowy trail. You might go slower if it’s steep. You might go quicker if it’s a sodden trail.
And of course, the great thing about starting early and finishing early is that you can be propping up the bar before apres-ski kicks in!
Don’t Get Lost!
Last but not least, make sure you don’t get lost! Plan out your route ahead of time, and make sure someone knows where you are going. Now is not the time to be secretive.
The first time you go winter hiking in Whistler, try a short route that’s well-signed. Don’t plan on heading out for a long backcountry trip unless you’re confident in your outdoor winter skills.
If you are going on a route that’s less well marked (or even if you’re not) consider taking a locator beacon with you. Even skilled mountaineers can become disoriented in a whiteout and lose their sense of direction. A locator beacon can help people find you if something bad does happen.
Post- winter hiking in Whistler
Oh! And don’t forget that the Lodge has a fabulous spa for you to relax in afterward! You definitely have earned it!
Guest blog in collaboration with effortlessoutdoors.com.
Header image PC: Justa Jeskova